Monday, January 2, 2012

Rex Stewart in Berlin




Rex was famous for playing trumpet or cornet with valves halfway down and making a very bizarre and funny sound out of the instrument. He could talk with his instrument, well-documented a year before his death in Conversation Piece (Baden, 1966 - here on Spotify). But maybe sometimes he was playing with valves just halfway down, but his heart was always fully up and open.

Barry Ulanov calls Rex Stewart (1907-1967) a "humorist" that could play with the "vigor" and "sweetness", and a "conversationalists" in the real sense of the word. These two qualities links him immediately to two of my all time favorites of that instrument, Louis Armstrong and Cootie Williams. No doubt that Rex took many lessons from the former, and had some influences on the latter. Here I have something special for you to hear: six sides he recorded in post-war Berlin during a visit to the ruined city. 

Rex reminisces that particular trip in his memoir, Boy Meets Horn, with his usual humor and sweetness:

"By June of 1948 we had finished our booking of the French Hot Clubs. Meanwhile the Special Services of the American Army had invited me to do a two-month tour in Germany leading a mixed outfit of fellows, not my own group. The musicians were to be selected for me in England "of dark people" from Ceylon and Trinidad. I sent the fellows in my group back home as there was nothing else happening to keep them overseas. The German tour was arranged by the Hot Club of Berlin, who had the notion that some of their local jazzmen would sit in with us for a jam session or two. Now these fellows hadn't played any jazz in years and were, I was informed, "somewhat rusty." Needless to say, I didn't hold high hopes for this venture. But I wasn't going to turn down the American Special Services, even though it didn't sound as if this was going to be an especially agreeable tour.

My worst anxieties became more certain when I was told that my first concert was at 2 a.m. in the practically deserted Delphi Palast located on a ruined Berlin street, and would be lit only by two carbide lamps. The invitation to the event read, "In view of the power cuts, each guest is requested to bring a candle." To my surprise, the lack of lighting turned out to be an  asset. It was a stunning sight to look out into the pinpoints of fluttering candle light. Furthermore, the big crowd of jazz buffs, both German civilians and American soldiers, greeted us with tumultuous applause. Because I had expected so little, this concert is one I will never forget - an outstanding page in my book of memories.

A few days later I recorded with some of the German jazz musicians. We did Blue Lou, Muskrat Ramble and a couple of my original tunes. I've often wondered if any of these records still exist. From Berlin we went on to play concerts in Munich, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt and Cologne. All did not go as smoothly as one could wish. One of the two cardinal rules in the business is to keep the music going whenever there is any disturbance.
I was taught this when I started playing, but I found out personally that this rule, like all others, was sometimes better broken. While playing for US troops in Germany, a few American GIs included me and my band in a fracas. The music stopped. I returned to Paris to relax a bit before returning home myself."
Six sides cut during his visit to Berlin are presented with a relatively good sound quality in this Blue Song LP, called Jazz in Deutschland. Besides these six tunes, some historically significant German jazz by some of Rex Stewart's sideman is included in the album, most notably trombonist Walter Dobschinski. You'll hear them from two track before the end of the side A and the whole side B of the LP.

Enjoy the recordings!


Jazz in Deutschland
Blue Song, LP 94327-416
All tracks recorded in Berlin, Germany

SIDE A

Rex Stewart's "Hot Club Berlin" Session
Rex Stewart (cornet)/Hans Berryto, Macky Kasper (t)/Carlton Riley, Walter Dobschinski (tb)/Joe Appleton (cl, ts)/Louis Stephenson (as)/Conrad Martinez (p)/Heinz Cramer (g)/"Teddy" Lenz (b)/Clinton Maxwell (d)
July 15, 1948

Blue Lou (Edgar Sampson)
Muskrat Ramble (“Kid” Ory)
Air Lift Stomp or Amiga Stomp (Rex Stewart)

Rex Stewart's "Hot Club Berlin" Session
Rex Stewart (cornet)/Hans Berryto, Macky Kasper (t)/Carlton Riley, Walter Dobschinski (tb)/Joe Appleton (cl, ts)/Louis Stephenson (as)/Fritz Schulz-Reichel (p)/Heinz Cramer (g)/"Teddy" Lenz (b)/Clinton Maxwell (d)
July 15, 1948

Bei Dir War Es Immer So Schön (Mackeben)

Rex Stewart's "Hot Club Berlin" Session
Rex Stewart (cornet)/Hans Berryto, Macky Kasper (t)/Carlton Riley, Walter Dobschinski (tb)/Joe Appleton (cl, ts)/Louis Stephenson (as)/Helmuth Wernicke (p)/Heinz Cramer (g)/"Teddy" Lenz (b)/Clinton Maxwell (d)
July 15, 1948

Linden Blues (Rex Stewart)

Rex Stewart's "Hot Club Berlin" Session
Rex Stewart (cornet)/Carlton Riley (tb)/Joe Appleton (cl, ts)/Louis Stephenson (as)/Helmuth Wernicke (p)/"Teddy" Lenz (b)/Clinton Maxwell (d)
July 15, 1948

Old Woman Blues (Rex Stewart)

Heinz Becker Quintet
Heinz Becker (Accordion)/Heinz Kamberg(cl)/Fritz Wöllfer (g)/Franz Zwickel (vio)/Rudi Schelnez (b)  Ilja Glusgal (d, voc only first track)
1949

I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (Jimmy Mchugh-Dorothy Fields)
Sweet Sue (Harris Young)



SIDE B
 
Walter Dobschinski Und Die Swing Band Des Berliner Rundfunks
Jean Orban (t)/Walter Dobschinski (tb)  Baldo Maestri(cl, as)/Delev Lais(ts)/Erwin Lehn (p)/Franz Fjal-Lipinski (g)/Piero Roncoroni (b)/Herbert Kysielka (d)
February-May 1947

Boogie Woogie (Dob’s Boogie) (Walter Dobschinski)
In The Mood (Garland)
Scwartzer Panther (Consiglio)

Walter Dobschinski Und Die Swing Band Des Berliner Rundfunks
Macky Kasper (t)/Walter Dobschinski (tb)/Baldo Maestri (cl, ts)/Omar Lamparter (as)/Detlev Lais (ts)/Fritz-Schultz-Reichel(p)/ Franz Fijal-Lipinski (g)/Piero Roncoroni (b)/Iljia Glusgal (d)

Allo, Mr. Be-Bop (Macky Kasper) 

Walter Alter Dobschinski Und Die Tanzkapelle Des Berliner Rundfunks
Macky Kasper (t)/Walter Dobschinski (tb)/Baldo Maestri (cl, ts)/Omar Lamparter (as)/Detlev Lais, Harry Winkler (ts)/Fritz-Schultz-Reichel(p)/ Franz Fijal-Lipinski (g)/Piero Roncoroni (b)/Iljia Glusgal (d)/Rita Paul (voc)
August-September 1948

Choo Choo Boogie (Horton-Darling-Gabler)
Berlin Express (Walter Dobschinski)

Walter Alter Dobschinski Und Die Tanzkapelle Des Berliner Rundfunks
Otto Fröhlich, Macky Kasper (t)/Walter Dobschinski (tb)/Herbert Müller (cl, as)/Omar Lamparter (as)/Detlev Lais, Harry Winckler (ts)/Fred Schröter (p)/Franz Fijallipinski (g) Teddy Lenz (b)/Günther Becker (d)
October 1948

St. Louis Blues (William Christopher Handy)

Walter Dobschinski
Walter Alter Dobschinski Und Die Tanzkapelle Des Berliner Rundfunks
Otto Fröhlich, Macky Kasper, Erich Plate (t)/Walter Dobschinski, Erich Boehm, Heinz Stoeckel (tb)/Herbert Müller (cl, as)/Omar Lamparter (as)/Detlev Lais, Harry Winckler (ts)/Fred Schröter (p)/Franz Fijallipinski (g) Teddy Lenz (b)/Günther Becker (d)
October 1948

One O’clock Jump (William Basie)




If you're still on this page and haven't left, I have something else to share. A short video of Rex, from his second return to Europe, this time in Switzerland, 1966. His comrades here are Henri Chaix's orchestra who was a popular Swiss band leader. Mr Chaix himself on piano; Andre Faist playing trombone; Roger Zufferey on alto sax; Alain DuBois, guitar; Romano Cavicchiolo, drums. Couldn't identify bassist, tenor saxophonist and the second trumpet.

16 comments:

  1. Ehsan, your blog is a delight. Thank you for the feature on Rex Stewart, one of the most interesting personalities I met on my long jazz journey. The clip from Switzerland was icing on the cake.

    I am currently looking for a taped interview with Rex that I did over 50 years ago—it will be on my blog as soon as I find it and make a transfer.

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  2. Rex Stewart also made a short appearance in Jacques Becker's film "Rendez-Vous de Juillet". He can be seen beginning around the 8 minute mark in this nice compilation:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmNhYMLfVv0
    The band is late clarinetist Claude Luter's.

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  3. @Chris: dear Chris, impatiently looking forward to that interview. I love Rex and that is a great thing to know that you have interviewd him.

    @Ubu: Thanks for Becker clip. You know, I write on cinema too. And interestingly I wrote the Becker entry for the only film encyclopedia in Farsi. Fortunately managed to acquire a good quality copy of Rendez-Vous de Juillet, as well.

    I just read the saddening note you've written for closure of your blog. Ugly world! Hope you be back.

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  4. Yeah, yeah, YEAH !!!

    Got some of the tracks on the below LP. The sound is quite awful (wrong pitch too), but it's very interesting stuff. -- One should always keep in mind the circumstances under which these recordings were made, namely in a still totally destroyed city:

    http://www.search4jazz.com/2011/02/rex-stewart-memorial-album-blp-001.html

    Rex Stewart, who was Mr. Pedaltone long before the free jazz types tried that out; what a great player. I love his contributions to the "The Sound Of Jazz" documentary. There he played really fantastic.

    The Duke's "Trumpet In Spades", "Boy Meets Horn" ... two outstanding features for/ portraits of a great artist.

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  5. I'd guess the tenor man is Michel Pilet, with Jo Gagliardi on trumpet. Perhaps the guitarist (he doubled bass) is DuBois, with Georges Furrer on bass. These were regulars with Chaix at that time I believe...

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  6. The trombone player is André Faist and the guitar player is Du Bois. I played with Faist, Pillet, Zufferey & Gagliardi a lot some years ago.
    Michel Weber

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Guys,

    The album that brewlitesjazztales is mine - http://www.search4jazz.com/2011/02/rex-stewart-memorial-album-blp-001.html - and I have been trying to research it without any luck. The only online mentions seem to just refer to it being released on Prestige, but I have that album too and they are not the same tracks at all.

    Does anyone have any more info ? It would help me sleep at night to know more ;-0

    I've tried the BP's record label, but they have changed and don't seem to be interested in the old recordings ... even BLP001 !

    Any help gratefully received ... Cheers Col :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Colin! what do you want to know? As far as I see you have all the info on your site (line up + date). Can you tell specifically what sort of data, related to that album, you are looking for?

      Delete
    2. Hi Ehsan, Thanks for getting back so quickly.

      Really I was just interested in the rarity of the album. I can only see one other mention of B.L.P 001 online, with everyone else saying that it was re-released on Prestige (which as said is wrong). The album is a beauty with crisp un-laminated orange card cover, the same as my "Boy meets horn".

      It's not about value, just any theories why this album hasn't been listed on the trading sites (Gemm etc). I'd be very interested in any ideas etc.

      Thanks again.

      Col :-)

      Delete
  8. How come everyone tells that Rex Stewart died in 1967 when I have in hands a CD where he is playing with the Swiss Henri Chaix Orchestra, in Baden (Switzerland) (June 12th., 1966) and at Montreux Jazz Festival (June 16th., 1971) ?
    There must be an error on Wikipedia and everyone use this as the Good Book !!!
    Jacques Schmitt (jacquess@bluewin.ch)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, obviously the year 1966 is before 1967, so that shouldn't impose a problem.

      The 1971 date probably belongs to that abundant group of releases giving wrong discographical info which is whether resulted from poor knowledge or a vicious intention to deceive the buyer.

      For the date of his death, beyond Wiki, check Cook's jazz encyclopedia, or Gitler's.

      Delete
  9. Hi, does anyone know what happend to Alain du Bois? Read somewere that he passed away in -97 after recording Just Friends. Anyone of you know why?
    Is there more videos with him ?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi, does anyone know what happend to Alain du Bois? Read somewere that he passed away in -97 after recording Just Friends. Anyone of you know why?
    Is there more videos with him ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The French Wikipedia doesn't mention anything, so I assume he is still with us. Don't know about other videos/recordings.

      Delete