A musical trip to the US part 1: NYC

Posted in jazz, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2017 by crownpropeller

Update: Most pictures can now be enlarged.

gDSC_8611Elevator Button leading to
Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola

I did not post anything here for such a long time that some people might have started to think that this blog is dead. The truth is that in the first few months of this year I spent my spare time being nervous about the fact that I would be flying to the US with my friend Hubi for the first time in my life from May 1 to May 10th. To see New York – to see if it is really real – and of course to finally go to Chicago to see all the locations I always wanted to see: Places where the music dwelled in the 1940s and 1950s. As you might know – connected to my love for Sun Ra – I am especially fascinated by the jazz, r’n’b, blues, and doo wop that was played in this town during that time period.

Since this blog is about music and not about sightseeing, I am presenting you here only the music related parts of our journey.

After checking in at our hotel close to the Empire State Building we went straight to Fred Cohen’s Jazz Record Center on the eighth floor of 236 West 26th Street.

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(Click to enlarge)
Hubi at the  Jazz Record Center (with Vi Redd’s «Lady Soul»
in the foreground, he bought that one).

The JRC is well sorted with prices not too cheap but not too high. And you can spend hours there checking the records and after that the really huge wall with Jazz books, some of them very rare.  Or check the stuff hanging on the walls or above the record shelves – like, watch out Sun Ra fans – this rare Saturn advertisement flyer from the early 1970s:

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El Saturn Research leaflet at the Jazz Record Center.

Most of our second day in NYC was spent walking through Manhattan. We decided to visit Academy Records at 12 West 18th St. As a jazz fan I’d say it is worth a visit if you are in the vicinity anyway. You may well find one rare thing or another there. They also have another shop not too far away – but time was never enough to go there.

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Tuesday evening was reserved for a little club hopping. Time to get dressed up for the gig at the Village Vanguard.

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(Click to enlarge) Red marquee, red shoes, going to the Vanguard in style

So who is playing tonight?

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I had seen David Murray quite a few times before and always loved it. And with his «Class Struggle» at the Vanguard he played a mix of free bop with neoclassical elements with some beautiful ballads thrown in. A repertoire which is quite typcal for Murray. But I have to say that my friend, the late swiss jazz researcher Otto Flückiger, was right when he said that it’s different if you hear that type of jazz in an environment that is its natural home. But this impression may also be owned to the fact, that I was finally being there in the midst of it all!

Photographs are not alllowed during gigs at the Village Vanguard, so here is just one small impression from the club:

gDSC_8597A horn and Charlie Haden at the Village Vanguard.

After a set at the Vanguard we took the Subway to the Lincoln Centre at Columbus Circle to see the Grassella Oliphant Quintet at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.

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Jazz at Lincoln Center – of which Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola is a part.

gDSC_8621(Click to enlarge) Grassella Oliphant (dr) and Freddie Hendrix (trumpet)
at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, NYC, May 2, 2017

Drummer Grassella Oliphant, who is 87 now, had two soul jazz LPs on Atlantic in the mid-sixties featuring people like Grant Green, Bobby Hutcherson, Harold Ousley and Clark Terry.  It’s kind of ironic that Oliphant was playing the late night show at Dizzy’s, because this spot is reserved for “upcoming promising bands”.

Oliphant’s group featured trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, Bruce Williams on alto sax, bassist Tom DiCarlo and an unidentified pianist (replacing the scheduled Norman Simmons). It was a beautiful concert in an absolutely wonderful location. Dizzy’s stage is in front of large windows letting you see the lights of the buildings on West 59th Street from the sixth floor behind the musians. I felt like I was in a movie – ok, I did all the time while I was in NYC!

Sitting on a bench outside the building waiting for Dizzy’s doors to open I had felt terribly sick from not having enough sleep in the last 48 hours but that was over as soon as the music finally started.

The Grassella Oliphant Quintet played the kind of modern jazz you would hear in NYC in say 1959. Amongst the tunes they played was Duke Pearson’s «Jeannine» as well as a ballad medley consisting of «You Don’t Know What Love Is» and «What’s New», which I managed to record. I made a video clip of this medley featuring photos I took that evening. The clip ends where I thought that the medley had ended. But when the applause died down, the – unfortunately unidentified – pianist took his turn.

gDSC_8619(Click to enlarge) Tom DiCarlo, Bruce Williams and Freddie Hendrix
at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, NYC, May 2, 2017

I had managed to buy one of Mr. Oliphant’s Atlantic albums the day before at the Jazz Record Center. Mr. Oliphant was rather surprised when I asked him to sign it for me: “Man, you know how old that record is?”

The LP, in question, “The Grass Is Greener”,  is a great soul jazz outing, recorded in spring 1965. Hear for example “The Yodel” composed by Big John Patton and Grant Green. The band on this track consists of Clark Terry, Harold Ousley, Big John Patton, Grant Green, Major Holley and of course Grassella Oliphant.

Thanks to youtube user groove addict.

Next day we kept walking around in Manhattan, stumbling on this record store that we had not read anything about while planing our trip:

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Second Hand Rose Music has a really decent jazz section so it’s definitely worth a visit, The adress is 48 E 12th Street.

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(Click to enlarge) Hubi checking out the jazz section at Second Hand Rose Music.

And in the evening: SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO! Amateur Night was on the programm this day which was actually James Brown’s birthday!

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(Click to enlarge) James Brown fanatic Hubi in front of the Apollo Theater
(No smoking under the marquee, please!)

gDSC_8729Billie Holiday’s name plate in the pavement in front of the Apollo.

And here are 49 not to lovingly edited minutes from the evening’s proceedings – starting with the really young artists and showing most of the elders– my favourite is the lady who made second place but the lady who made first was great as well. The presenter calls himself “Comedian Capone” by the way. Spoiler: Nobody’s performance was stopped by the famous Executioner on this night.

On Thursday our walk through Chinatown and Little Italy lead us to this litte record store:

IMG_0784 House of records(Click to enlarge) Hubi and me in front of The House Of Oldies.

First question to the store’s owner: “Do you have a jazz section?” Answer: “No!”.

gDSC_8861(Click to enlarge) Inside the House Of Oldies.

gDSC_8862(Click to enlarge) The 45 section at The House Of Oldies.
You got some time?

Just after this negative answer I turned around and saw all this rare doo wop and soul on the wall: paradise! (No, neither of us bought the 500$ “Your Favorite Singing Groups” Album!)

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Of course I should have noticed right away that the owner – a gentle salesman around 75 years old – obviously is a soul warrior!

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(Click to enlarge) The owner.

We left a quite a lot of money there and had to decline his offer to show us the 78s in the basement – how would we be carrying them anyway?

On or way back to the Hotel to relax a little bit before the evening’s concert we saw this Beat Boxer named KAZ in some subway station. Marvel how not even his billboard going down can keep him from carrying on!

Go on, KAZ!

I had great expections for the Ron Carter 80th birthday event at the Blue Note. Carter was celebrated all week, playing in different combniations each day. The band we witnessed featured Carter with Houston Person (ts), Kenny Barron (p), Russell Malone (g) and drummer Payton Crossley. It was a nice concert I guess, but I also guess that the Blue Note has seen the last of me. It was cramped inside and we got seats as far away from the stage as possible. Since we are no more in the age where you love to stand at a bar for an hour we had decided to book a table – in which case one has to eat something. So you are sitting there waiting for your food while the band is playing very quiet and lyrical accompanied by clinging glasses and rattling knives. When your food finally arrives after half of the set you payed for is over, you do not dare to eat it, knowing you will make disturbing sounds as well or push your neighbor off his chair by lifting your fork.

Fortunately our neighbors were nice people and the lady besides me even stood up for a second so I could at least make a bad pic of the band I would have loved to enjoy.

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Houston Person at the Blue Note, NYC, May 4th 2017.

We were in a little !?#!#“&¿!!! mood after the Blue Note – but this wasn’t the musical end of the evening since on our way back to the hotel we met Soul Warrior No. 2:

Unidentified soul singer in NYC subway station.

And apart from the terrible Mariachi band (no picture here, sorry) at La Guardia airport – where our plane to Chicago was delayed for five hours – that was it for the NYC part of our musical journey.

In part 2 (be patient): Chicago!

Disclaimer: I never understood English/US comma rules – and I probably never will.
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A great session: Tom Archia

Posted in 78 rpm, clips, jazz, R'n'B, Tom Archia with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2016 by crownpropeller

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Tom Archia (1919–1977)

It was around 20 years ago when my friend the late Otto Flückiger taught me that there were much more interesting things from the Chicago jazz scene of the 1940s and 1950s than the Sun Ra related stuff from that time and placethat I was so much interested in. On one day in the mid-nineties he played me several 78rpm records featuring a tenor saxophonist called Tom Archia to introduce me to the chicago way of playing the tenor sax: relaxed and way behind the beat. Of course the best known exponent of this style has to be Gene Ammons. I already knew and loved a bit the early Gene Ammons stuff. But Tom Archia thrilled me right away. What got me is that he was cool and relaxed and immensely sassy at the same time.

Around that time I exchanged Sun Ra related tapes with Ra researcher Robert L. Campbell and used some Tom Archia stuff Otto had taped for me as filler. And Robert was blown away just the same. So we had to know more about this man. Google did not bring up much about him in the mid-90s and so we started with dusting off old (non indexed mostly) discographies and collector’s lists. All the while we were stumbling over other artists from that place and period that we wanted to know more about. And that was the foundation of the Red Saunders Research Foundation. And one of the RSRF’s first projects was a page, dedicated to Tom Archia.

Most of Tom Archia’s playing on records is in an r’n’b context which is a pity as this format restricts him timewise. But in October 1947 at the Universal Recording studio in Chicago it was just him and a rhythm section (with Archia himself singing on one track). Tom is accompanied by Bill Searcy (p), Leo Blevins (eg), Lowell Pointer (b) and Robert “Hindu” Henderson (d). The four resulting tracks landed on three different 78rpm records.

The result is not only a fine session, it is a GREAT SESSION! Hey people, this DESERVES TO BE UNIVERSALLY HEARD!

To help this noble cause, I have put up clips playing the four tracks on youtube. If you listen to all four of them, you may notice that his set of licks is limited. But if you love these licks as much as i do, they’ll never get on your nerves.

The first track of the session was the jumping “Jam For Sam”. If you want to hear one of Archia’s favourite licks , check at 01:24-01:26. Also here as on the other three tracks listen to Leo Blevins’ guitar and the accents he sets.

The second track recorded that day was the boppish “Macomba Jump”. Here one of Archia’s favourite licks appears at 01:34–01:40.

Downfall Blues:

The next track, “Downfall Blues”, was rereleased on a Chess Vintage Series LP in the early seventies (titled “Whiskey” on that occasion). But here you get it in original 78rpm sound to feed your nostalgic needs. The singer is Archia himself and the track unfortunately has some autobiographical notions. Starting with his most favourite lick, his playing is at its most laconic  throughout here:

The final tune the band recorded that day is “Slumber”(also rereleased as “Minor Blues” on that Chess Vintage Series LP). Relax, lay back and enjoy this one – and if you wake up, tell me what you think.

Now would someone else please wake up and rerelease all of Tom Archia’s recordings for Aristocrat/Chess? In pristine quality? From the original master disks? Please? Universal? Charly? Some japanese company? Preferably on vinyl?

Until then, enjoy!

R.I.P. Mose Allison

Posted in jazz, Mose Allison with tags , , , , on November 20, 2016 by crownpropeller

moseMose Allison (1927–2016)

The news of singer/pianist Mose Allison’s passing on November 15 made me quite sad as I had the feeling to have lost a friend I never knew.

From 18 to 26 I was one of those truly dislikeable Frank Zappa fans who run around all day pestering people who he thinks are just too ignorant and dumb to understand what a genius Zappa is.

Nowadays Zappa leaves me cold (except his first couple of LPs with the Mothers Of Invention and his orchestral music).

But I have to thank Zappa for several things:

a) teaching me there is more to music than 4/4.

b) making me love Doo Wop

c) making me love Edgar Varèse

d) making me listen to Mose Allison.

At some time in the late 1980s there was an article in the german magazine “Tempo” (which was published from 1986 to 1996) titled “50 rock stars talk about their favourite artists” or something to that effect. Frank Zappa was quoted with “I always listen to Mose Allison on my Walkman.” So the next day, I went to town and bought this record:

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And I absolutely fell in love with the man, his music and his lyrics right away. Mose was witty, wise and cool and straightfaced sarcastic and laconic and sometimes very funny and on top of that a very fine pianist.

On a Prestige 2LP compilation of Mose Allison’s early works, Pete Townsend of The Who is quoted:

“When I heard that [Allison’s LP “Back Country Suite”] I swore he was as black as Cow Cow Davenport (Was Cow Cow Davenport black?)”

Two things about that statement. First: Cow Cow Davenport was black. Second: I think Mose Allison’s secret was that he sounded very white if one can say so, but he sounded cool and hip nonetheless. His way of playing and singing the blues is sophisticated and down home at the same time – a hard task.

Strangely enough all of my jazz friends never shared my enthusiasm for Mose Allison, “Yeah, nice, but not my style”, was all I could ever get out of them. So after a while I stopped with my new hobby: running around all day pestering people who I think are just too ignorant and dumb to understand what a genius Mose Allison is!

So after that it was just a thing between me and Mose, the cool poet. And Mose the prophet: Here is what he had to say – in 1968 – about the state of things in 2016: “Jus Like Livin'” – the first piece of Mose’s that I’ve ever heard – was recorded in Los Angeles on July 9, 1968 with Red Mitchell on bass and Bill Goodwin on drums.

Enjoy!

Two Nights at The Crown Propeller Lounge

Posted in 78 rpm, Chicago Tenor Sax, documents, jazz, King Kolax, Photographs, R'n'B, Sax Mallard with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2016 by crownpropeller

cp 4Mildred “Mitzi” Schlossberg and Oett “Sax” Mallard
at the Crown Propeller Lounge in Chicago, exact date unknown.
Courtesy of the Schlossberg family

Already more than a half a year ago I was informed that Mildred “Mitzi” Schlossberg, co-owner of Chicago’s Crown Propeller Lounge (after which this blog here is named) passed at the proud age of 100. What an interesting life she must have had! I wanted to put up something here at that time, but I have been extremely busy otherwise during the last months.

But all the while I have been on the lookout for souvenirs from the Crown Propeller Lounge and I managed to acquire two very nice items.

The first is a photograph showing Mitzi Schlossberg’s husband Norman Schlossberg with a woman and three men. It comes from Mitzi Schlossberg’s estate, and I found it on ebay. The three men are holding trophies in their hand, but unfortunately the writing on the cups is out of focus.

schlossbergtrophyCrown Propeller owner Norman Schlossberg (2nd from
left) with unidentified others on October 15, 1953.
From the Crown Propeller Collection

The backside of the photograph is stamped Oct. 15, 1953. (Photographer was H.S. Rhoden, 7037 Indiana Ave – if you care). October 15, 1953 was a thursday and I found an ad in the “Chicago Defender” for that day.

UntitledFrom Chicago Defender, Defender, Oct. 10  1953.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

But unfortunately the ad does not give out a hint what the trophies were for. There is a small possibility that the photo was taken during the night between the 14th and the 15th and come from Wednesday night’s regular talent contest at the Lounge – but the prices for winning the “Talent Nite” are given as $25 (1st) and $10 (2nd). Would they be handing out trophies as well?

Anyway here’s some music you might have heard played at the Crown Propeller Lounge on the night the photo above was taken:

In a recording from October 14, 1949 (for Decca), it is trumpeter Tiny Davis’ All Girl Band with Tiny herself (tp,vcl), Birdie Davis (as), Helen Cole (p) and unknown ts, p and b playing “Race Horse”, a nice Boogie Shuffle.

And here is guitarist Rudy Greene playing “Meet Me Baby”, recorded with King Kolax’ band for Chance Records in 1953.

The other nice item I could lay my hands on is one of the typical souvenir pictures made by house photographers in different clubs in Chicago. I imagine they were quickly developed in some small dark room in the club and then sold to the photographed customers. Here we have a couple of people at a table – apparently not all of them enjoying the proceedings.

scan-cp-picA Night At The Crown Propeller Lounge, probably
September 1951. from the Crown Propeller Collection

scan-sleeveFrom the Crown Propeller Collection

A pointer to the date this photo was taken is the Crown Propeller sleeve in which it came (above). Sax Mallard as well as violinist Leon Abbey were part of the Crown Propeller’s program together only in September 1951.

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From Chicago Defender, September 1, 1951.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

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From Chicago Defender, September 29, 1951.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

It is strange though, that they printed an extra sleeve just for these few weeks.

How about some music to this photograph? I can not offer you anything by Leon Abbey or by the Ding Bell Trio, but here is a video that lets you listen to Sax Mallard’s “Teen Town Strut!”, recorded for Checker on May 12, 1952. With Sax Mallard (ts); unidentified (tp); unidentified (ts, bars); William “Lefty” Bates (eg); probably Jimmy Bowman (p); probably LeRoy Jackson (b); probably Sleepy Nelson (d).

Enjoy!

The Mario Schneeberger Discography

Posted in Benny Bailey, Mario Schneeberger with tags , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2016 by crownpropeller

mario_ds81_bailey KopieMario Schneeberger and Benny Bailey, 1976.
Photo: Foto Hug

Swiss alto saxophonist and dear fellow jazz researcher Mario Schneeberger has send me a pdf containing a discography of his own recordings. This discography is basically extracted from Arild Widerøe’s Swiss Jazz Disko, but Mario has added a few things. You can find the discography here.

Mario, though he could never live from making music alone, is surely Switzerland’s finest bop altoist and has been that for more than fifty years now. Besides leading his own quintet for about twenty years and being part of several swiss band projects  he also often had the chance to jam with luminaries from the US scene like Benny Bailey, Bross Townsend, Richard Williams, Milt Buckner … All of these and more mentioned in the discography.

And here is some music to go along wit the dry data:

First here’s the Mario Schneeberger Quintett featuring Benny Bailey playing Horace Silver’s “Strollin'” live at the Schützenhaus in Glarus on November 27, 1976. Besides Schneeberger and trumpeter Bailey the band consists of Tutilo Odermatt at the piano, bassist Peter Frei and drummer Kurt Schaufelberger. Bailey has the first solo, Mario comes after that.

“Strollin'” comes from Mario’s rare self produced LP DS 81, “Chasin The Bird”, which was released in 1981 – thus it’s number.

mario_ds81From the Crown Propeller collection

As a second example of Mario Schneeberger’s art, here is a wonderful rendition of “Body and Soul” in a trio recording with Mario Schneeberger on alto sax, pianist Joachim Stein and bassist Charles Sammons.  This was recorded at the Restaurant Nerly in Erfurt Germany on June 20, 2008.

This beautiful track was released in 2015 on “Cheer Ears” as DS 15, a “Very Limited Edition” 2CD set, that Mario burned on CD-Rs to give away to his relatives and friends.

In Erfurt, where Mario can often be seen these days, he is regularly invited as guest soloist by the Nerly Bigband which since its formation is the resident band of the club. In 2015 the Nerly Bigband released “That’s Earl, Brother”, a CD that features Mario in front of the band on all tracks. Unfortunately you can only get this CD at different places in Erfurt, you might want to try the band’s homepage though.  What you are looking for looks like this:

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And it’s definitely worth looking out for!

Enjoy!

R.I.P., Bobby Hutcherson

Posted in Bobby Hutcherson, clips, Dizzy Gillespie, jazz with tags , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2016 by crownpropeller

This morning I received the sad news of vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson’s passing on monday at the age of 75. Here is an obituary from the New York Times.

I never had the chance to see any of the great vibraphone players of the 20th century (Hampton, Jackson, Hutcherson, Dickerson) play live. But for youtube’s sake, we have the chance to see them all in action (not that it’s a comparable experience).

In 1989 Bobby Hutcherson was runnnig the european festival circuit with the band that was either announced as “The Phil Woods / Dizzy Gillespie All Stars” or as “The Dizzy Gillespie / Phil Woods  All Stars”, depending on whatever. It seems this band played every major and minor european festival that year, and fortunately most of the times some TV station was broadcasting at least parts of the proceedings.

In the VHS collection of my friend, the late swiss jazz researcher Otto Flückiger, I found a nearly 13 minute clip of the All Stars playing Gillespie’s composition “Tour De Force” at the Jazz Festival in Wiesen, Austria on Saturday, July 8, 1989 – which has never been on youtube before.

So here’s my tribute to the late great Bobby Hutcherson. The band consists of Dizzy Gillespie (tp), Phil Woods (as), Bobby Hutcherson (vib), Steve Turre (tb), Cedar Walton (p), Rufus Reid (b) and Mickey Roker (dr). And Hutcherson has a nice solo in there.

 

Enjoy!

… and please excuse the TV noise in the background, I could not do anything against this.

Milt Buckner: KAKE acetate (195?)

Posted in 33 rpm, acetates, Milt Buckner with tags , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2016 by crownpropeller

Milt Buckner in the mid-sixties. Photographer, date and location unidentified.
From the Otto Flückiger collection.

Already a while ago I had uploaded “Milt’s Boogie” as well as “Flying Home” from the mysterious Milt Buckner acetate from Wichita KS Station KAKE. This 12” / 33rpm acetate is one of a series of five KAKE acetates. The other four contain a concert by Lionel Hampton’s Orchestra at the Forum in Wichita, dated 1953. The fifth  has five solo piano tracks by Buckner (four on one side, one on the other) and ends with two tracks from the Hampton concert again.

It’s unclear when these were recorded. I can not find a Wichita date in Milt Buckner’s agendas and he was not a member of the Lionel Hampton Orchestra in 1953. I relistened to this music again today in the hope of coming somewhat closer to solving this riddle, but to no avail.

Anyway I thought Milt’s playing on tis acetate is interesting enough that it would justify to present it here in full. I know a good cleaning would probably help to get a better sound. But I will not try anything that might do any damage to the acetate, so you have to live with what there is.

So here is Milt playing “Old Man River”, “Hamp’s Boogie”, “How High the Moon”, “Laura” and then “Flying Home”.

 

Enjoy!