Friday, July 30, 2010

Bunky's Body & Soul

Eddie Haywood In Dark Corner

Eddie Haywood in a shot from Henry Hathaway's classic film noir, The Dark Corner (1946), starring Lucille Ball. He and his orchestra, which are not showed in the nightclub sequence, play Heywood's blues. At the time of making the film, The Eddie Heywood Sextet was very popular, playing melodic and tightly arranged versions of swing standards. His version of Begin the Beguine became a hit, and three years of strong success followed. During 1947-50, Heywood was stricken with a partial paralysis of his hands and could not play at all. He made a gradual comeback in the 1950s, mostly performing commercial music in addition to composing the standard "Canadian Sunset." Despite a second attack of paralysis in the late '60s, Eddie Heywood continued performing into the 1980s.
Also in another scene from this film, The Mooche is playing in the radio, when William Bendix is trying to find a hideout in Mark Stevens's apartment.

And finally A Bucket Of Blood (1959), Roger Corman's ultra-low-budget, and mini-masterpiece, about creating masterpieces, with a Fred Katz score and an appearance of Paul Horn in the opening sequence. He's playing a beatnik saxophonist in a typical west coast junky-intellectual joint. Music is bad, but what is good about this film is the way Corman shows us that anything bad could be so good in telling us a part - a big part - of the truth.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Classics 668: Jelly Roll Morton 1939-40

Classics 668
Jelly Roll Morton 1939-1940
Release Date
: 1996
Rating: B

Other notable musicians in this CD: Henry "Red" Allen, Albert Nicholas, Zutty Singleton
Label(s): General, Commodore
Number of sessions: 6
Unissued materials: none
Track Highlights: The Crave, Big Lip Blues.
Other issue or reissues: Last Sessions: Complete General Recordings (Commodore CMD 14032)

About the period:
Jelly Roll's health was poor. His pockets empty. His belly loaded with whiskey. He was dyin'.
"Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,
If the women don't get you, the whiskey must!"

The Album:
Jelly Roll's last recordings for General label. "I have a subject of mutual benefit to discuss with you," wrote Jelly to Charles Smith. General Records had asked Jelly for an album of the old New Orleans favorites. "Jelly was extremely ill," writes Mr. Smith, "and we used as many as four waxes on certain sides." The stand-out side, of course, was Mamies Blues, which, everyone agreed, was not "commercial." Nevertheless it has kept the album in print ever since, and has been called the most beautiful of all jazz piano records. When General went on to make some "commercials" with a swing band composed of Henry Allen trumpet, Joe Britten trombone, Albert Nicholas clarinet, Eddie Williams alto sax, Welman Braud bass, Zutie Singleton drams, and Jelly Roll piano, the records died fast.

The set starts with The Crave, one of those melancholic moments of Jelly Roll, a great combination of poetry and piano. Then comes The Naked Dance , a stride/ragtime kind of fast tempo solo on keyboards, executed perfectly by Morton.There is Buddy Bolden's Blues, an homage to trumpet master of New Orleans and we can add it to the small catalog of jazz tributes to Bolden like Hey, Buddy Bolden in Ellington's The Drum is a Woman LP, and also a reinterpretation of Ellington piece by Nina Simone. Again, Jelly Roll's Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say and Sidney Buddy Bolden Stomp and Buddy Bolden Story.

After you listened to superb trumpet solo of "Red" Allen on Big Lip Blues, then dig Mamie's Blues. "This is the first blues I ever heard in my life," that's Jelly's own introduction to the tune.

As Spring of 1941 came to Los Angeles, Jerry Roll's death came along and closed and locked the keyboard. He was in the middle of planning his next recording session of New Orleans music, but that was the end.

--Ehsan Khoshbakht

Listen to The Crave, 1939:


Jelly Roll Morton
New York. December 14, 1939

R-2562 The Crave
R-2563 The Naked Dance
R-2564 Mister Joe
R-2565 King Porter Stomp
R-2566 Winin' Boy Blues

Jelly Roll Morton
New York. December 16, 1939

R-2570 Buddy Bolden's Blues
R-2571 The Naked Dance
R-2572 Don't You Leave Me Here
R-2573 Mamie's Blues

Jelly Roll Morton
New York. December 18, 1939

R-2579 Michigan Water Blues

Jelly-Roll Morton's Seven
Jelly-Roll Morton (p,voc)/Henry "Red" Allen(t)/Joe Britton(tb)/Albert Nicholas(cl)/Eddie Williams(altosax)/Wellman Braud(b)/Zuny Singleton(d).
New York, January 4, 1940

R-2582 Sweet Substitute
R-2583 Panama
R-2584 Good Old New York
R-2585 Big Lip Blues

Jelly-Roll Morton Six
Jelly-Roll Morton (p,voc)/Henry "Red" Allen(t)/Albert Nicholas(cl)/Eddie Williams(altosax)/Wellman Braud(b)/Zuny Singleton(d).
New York, January 23, 1940

R-2621 Why?
R-2622 Get me Bucket
R-2623 If I Knew
R-2624 Shake It

The Morton Seven
Jelly-Roll Morton (p,voc)/Henry "Red" Allen(t)/Claude Jones(tb)/Albert Nicholas(cl)/Eddie Williams(altosax)/Wellman Braud(b)/Zuny Singleton(d).
New York, January 30, 1940

R-2632 Dirty, Dirty, Dirty
R-2633 Swinging The Elks
R-2634 Mama's Cot A Baby
R-2635 My Home is in a Southern Town

Total Time: 62 mins. (approximately)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

William Gottlieb's Jazz Photos, Part 6: Ray McKinley

Ray McKinley (1910–95) got his start working with local bands in the Dallas–Fort Worth area, before joining Smith Ballew in 1929, when he met Glenn Miller. The two formed a friendship which lasted from 1929 until Miller's death in 1944. McKinley and Miller joined the Dorsey Brothers in 1934. Miller left for Ray Noble in December 1934, while McKinley remained. The Dorsey Brothers band became Jimmy's after Tommy left and formed his own band in 1935.McKinley remained with Jimmy until 1939, when he joined Will Bradley, becoming co-leader. McKinley and Bradley split in 1942 and McKinley formed his own band, which recorded for Capitol Records. The McKinley band was short-lived. When McKinley broke up the band, he joined Glenn Miller's Army Air Force band, which he co-led with arranger Jerry Gray after Miller's disappearance in December 1944. Upon being discharged at the end of the following year, McKinley formed an excellent, remarkably modern big band that featured a book of original material by legendary arranger Eddie Sauter. But with the business in decline, by 1950 that band was history and McKinley began evolving into a part-time leader and sometime radio and TV personality. In 1956, capitalizing on the popularity of the Glenn Miller Story movie with James Stewart, McKinley was chosen to be the leader of the revived Glenn Miller band, which he led until 1966. He co-hosted (with former Air Force band vocalist Johnny Desmond) a 13-week CBS-TV summer series with the band on CBS-TV in 1961. (from Wikipedia)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Till The Butcher Cut Him Down

Today's one of those long, melancholic days. I'm listening to Jelly Roll Morton's last recordings and going through Alan Lomax'es notes, while the poet/pianist is singing:

"He rambled.
He rambled,
He rambled till the butcher cut him down, .. ."

AUGUST 1, 1941

Los Angeles A solemn, high requiem mass, performed at St. Patrick's Church with the full dignity of the Roman Catholic ritual, followed by burial at Calvary Cemetery was the world's parting gesture to Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton, who died here at Los Angeles hospital July 10 of heart trouble and asthma.

One white man was among the approximately one hundred and fifty people who attended the church service and accompanied the funeral procession to the cemetery - Dave Stuart of the Jazz Man Record Shop.


Notably absent from the funeral of the man who did so much to bring jazz out of the honkey tonks and dives of New Orleans were two o the most successful black bandleaders of the days Duke Ellington and Jimmie Lunceford. Ellington is appearing at the Mayan Theatre here in a stage revue and Lunceford is at the Casa Manana.

Among those present were the members of what was probably the first black jazz band to make phonograph recordings - pioneers of jazz saying goodbye to one of their valiant gang musicians who played from the heart because they never learned any other way to play.

Reb Spikes, Jelly's old song-writing partner, didn't have a car and almost didn't get to the cemetery. Dave Stuart saw that Reb was about to get left behind and took him out in his car,"Sure appreciated that," said Reb. "Wanted to go as far as I could with Jelly."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Benny Carter: Doozy!

ARP here:

Speaking of Benny Carter, Norman Granz mentioned once that his all-time friend Frog [Ben Webster] gave the nickname to the king. As far as musicianship and composing and arranging is concerned, the king is a real monarch. As far as humanity is concerned I suffice to remind the words of Jimmy Rowles another lifetime pal of Benny: “he is the gentleman par excellence. A perfect friend. A man of all seasons and for all seasons.” I have never heard or read of so much modesty and humbleness by a musician of his caliber. In 1987 in an interview with the artistic director of the “American jazz orchestra”, Gary Giddins, he gave a typical answer to a question that was concerned with his influence in the field of the development of the alto sax:

Q: You are not conscious of a Benny Carter style?
A: No. I am not. I’ve always felt that was one reason for the failure of my orchestra... I don’t know... if I have made a contribution I would be very happy to know that. No, I don’t know and I’m not being modest, I really don’t know. Contribution to what- to my livelihood?

Q: Were you aware of the fact that you and Hodges seemed to be emerging as the major voices in jazz alto at the same time?
A: no, I didn’t think about it.

Q: Does that evaluation, which is standard jazz history, seem accurate to you in retrospect?
A: well, I don’t know. You see, there were many saxophone players that I heard in those days that I never hear about now, and nobody else hears about, and you wouldn’t know their names if they were mentioned, because they didn’t record and they were not heard by enough people.

So this is the way masters like him respond. When you come to think of it this is the same musician who’s been active as far back as 1929 and with the most fabulous orchestras of all times and has helped to bring along name musicians like Miles, Max Roach, Bud Powell, Monk and God knows how many other respectful cats of the same caliber. A man being respected by masters like Duke, Henderson, Redman, Basie, Hamp, and many alike. Julian Adderley who himself was very much influenced by carter’s style did observe: “Benny Carter could, and can, play as many notes as anyone, but he makes it look so easy.” Charlie Parker said the same thing to that effect. I can’t recall where I read or heard it, but it must have been a recorded documentary that I had on tape.

I still remember the day that I acquired a sole record of master from a friend in Iran. It was an impulse label. I guess it was the album by the title Further Definitions, of the year 1961. There was one of his masterpieces by the name of Doozy that I liked most. It became my national anthem for a long time, till tune Easy Money of the same penmanship, took its place.
Now that I’m writing these notes , it’s the time for a number like “ I still love him so” from the blessed year of 1955, a year little jazz [Roy Eldridge] and The King got together to record for Norman Granz [it is The King, 1976]. What a marvelous piano, vibes, and guitar performance by masters Flanagan, Jackson, and Pass. It’s a delight to listen to soft and easy going rhythm of these gents. Jake‘s is the most sensitive drumming in this session and so is the superb Williams’ bass. It is all reaffirmation of Cannonball’s remark: Benny makes everything so easy.