Archive for 1948

Rex Stewart in Europe (1947/1948)

Posted in documents, jazz, Rex Stewart with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2014 by crownpropeller


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Rex Stewart. Photo: Gottlieb

In Otto Flückiger’s collection I found some nice souvenirs from Rex Stewart’s late 1947 / early 1948 european concerts. The most beautiful item is a program from the Tabaris-Bar in Lausanne (in the french speaking part of Switzerland), probably from November 1947 or from spring 1948. It has been autographed by nearly everybody in the band: Rex, trombonist Sandy Williams, tenor sax man Vernon Story whose only claim to fame is his short stint with Stewart, pianist Don Gais and drummer Ted Curry. Missing is only the bassist (if indeed there was one).

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Back of autographed program for the Rex Stewart appearance at the Tabaris-Bar in Lausanne, late 1947 or early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

As you can see from the program’s inside, Rex Stewart “et son orchestre de couleur américain” were not the evening’s only attraction:

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(Click to enlarge)

In fact the Tabaris’ management obviously thought more about Borrah Minevitch, as his picture is featured on the program’s front (Rex’s is on the back).

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The second item I found in relation to Rex Stewart’s european sojourn is another program – this time it’s (almost) only about Rex.

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(Click to enlarge) Program for a Rex Stewart appearance in Switzerland, late 1947 or early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

“Almost” because there are also piano solos by Bernard Pfeiffer mentioned. The program was printed in Lausanne, so it might well be also from the Tabaris-Bar (maybe after Minevitch went out or before he came in?).

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(Click to enlarge) Program for a Rex Stewart appearance in Switzerland, late 1947 or early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

What you can not really see on this scan is that the original owner of the program marked the pieces played that night and also added pieces that were played but not announced in the printed program. So the band played (in an unknown order of course) Georgia on My Mind, The Jeep Is Jumpin’, Boy Meets Horn, The Man I Love, The Mooche, Just Squeeze Me, Jazz Me Blues, Stompin’ At The Savoy, Body And Soul, Storyville, Honeysuckle Rose and – probably as closer – Goofin’ Off.

Of course you would like to know what that sounded like. There are no recordings from Lausanne although there are three dates from Basel (November 1947 as well as April 30 and May 5, 1948) in the standard discographies. I do not have these in my collection, instead I am offering you four tracks as recorded by Rex’s group in Paris in December 1947. First here is “The Man I Love” as recorded live at the Salle Pleyel on December 5:

And here’s the band three days later on a studio in Paris playing “Just Squeeze Me”:

From the same date comes Roy’s old feature number with Duke, “Boy Meets Horn”:

And finally here is Rex going with the times by offering “Be-bop Boogie”, which also offers a rare glimpse of tenor man Vernon Story:

Finally here is (part of) an enthusiastic though paternalistic review of one of Rex’s appearances probably from a swiss newspaper:

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(Click to enlarge) Undated review of a Rex Stewart appearance, probably Switzerland, early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

Whereas Rex had used John Harris on clarinet and alto in Paris, this review mentions alto saxophonist George Kennedy and makes a point of him being the only white guy in the band. That again points to indeed no bassist playing at least on the evening which was reviewed here.

Enjoy!

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Chicago Tenor Sax (second installment)

Posted in 78 rpm, Chicago Tenor Sax, Eddie Johnson, Gene Wright, jazz, John Neely, Johnny (Johnnie) Pate, King Fleming, Sun Ra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2013 by crownpropeller

Welcome to the second installment of the loose series featuring some of the jazz and r’n’b tenor saxophonists that played in the clubs of Chicago in the 1940s and 1950s.

Although when talking about tenor saxophonists from Chicago one usually thinks of the Lester Young school of playing, relaxed, cool and way behind the beat, this town definitely had more to offer.

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Eddie Johnson featured with the Jo Pernell Combo.
Chicago Defender, August 2, 1952.
From Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”.

The late Eddie Johnson (1920–2010) for example cited Lester Young as his greatest influence, yet that is not too obvious if you listen to his records. You can read all about Eddie Johnson at the page dedicated to him at at the Red Saunders Research Foundation by the way. After playing in lesser known bands for a while, Johnson joined Louis Jordan’s Tympany Five in early 1947, staying until the end of the year.  In 1951 and 1952 he recorded some sides for Chess Records, before the label began to concentrate  on Blues. In 1958 Johnson recorded as a sideman in a large James Moody group, and in 1964 he replaced Paul Gonsalves in the Duke Ellington Orchestra from time to time, when Gonsaves had problems related to substance abuse. After his last session for Chess in 1952, it took almost thirty years before Johnson recorded under his name again – for Chicago based Nessa Records. (he also recorded under his own name for Delmark in 1999).

But here’s Eddie in his younger days. “Twin Rock”, played by  Johnson (ts), Claude Jones (p), Johnny Pate (b) and  Oliver Coleman (d), was recorded for Chess at the Universal Studios in Chicago on September 12 1952. Billboard had this to say: “Instrumental is carried nicely by Johnson’s sax. It’s pleasant enough and could get some juke action”. So judge for yourself:

The next track I am offering you is special for different reasons. Eugene “Gene” Wright, later bassist with Dave Brubeck’s Quartet, had a nice band called Eugene Wright and his Dukes of Swing for a while in the 1940s. Red Holloway played with the Dukes of Swing as did Yuseef Lateef (at that time still known as Bill Evans). Neither Holloway nor Lateef were on the session from which I am offering you a piece here. But the band’s arranger and pianist who is playing on “Music Goes Round And Round” is none other than Sonny Blount – later known as Sun Ra! Another interesting figure also on this session is trumpeter Hobart Dotson – who later recorded with Sun Ra and with Charlie Mingus (somebody should definitely do an english language Wikipedia entry for Dotson!)

defender_dec_18_48From Chicago Defender, December 18, 1948. Wonder who is who?

But what about the tenor saxophonist we can hear here? His name is Melvin Scott. That you may never had heard of him before may well be based on the fact that this seems to be his only recorded session. On the  Willie Jones page of the Red Saunders Research Foundation, you can find some photos featuring Scott.

“Music Goes Round And Round” was recorded in December 1948 for Aristocrat Records, the forerunner of Chess Records. Billboard wrote: “A jump version of the Riley-Farley japery. It’s old enough – and the times are musically out of joint enough – to come back. Who knows?”

Melvin Scott only has a few bars here before baritonist Van Kelly takes over, but these bars sure are hot:

Part 3 of the second installment comes from a favourite of mine, the unjustly forgotten tenor player John Neely (1930–1994):

hamP_with_neelyJohn Neely (right) with Lionel Hamton, at Kunsthaus Luzern,
March 1, 1961. From concert review in “Luzerner Neue Nachrichten”

Neely’s fluid, light hearted and relaxed phrasing is more typical of the style saxophonists from Chicago are known for. You can hear that well on Count Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump” as recorded by the band of pianist King Fleming around March 1954. You’ll hear John Neely, King Fleming, bassist Russell Williams and drummer Aubrie Jones. The singing is possibly by the band members except for the female voice who probably is Lorez Alexandria or Ethel Duncan. You can find more information about this session on the King Fleming page of the Red Saunders Research Foundation where there also some photos of John Neely:

There are very few solos known by Neely – and all are great. My friend, the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger heard Neely when Neely was in Lionel Hampton’s orchestra during its 1961 European tour – and loved his playing right away. It took 36 years before Otto was to hear another John Neely solo again – King Fleming had told Robert Campbell that it was John Neely playing those wonderful lines on Fleming’s Blue Lake outing.

I love this record so much that I had to acquire the red wax 45rpm when it turned up for sale:

fleming_1_o_clockFrom the Crown Propeller Collection

But although it looks gorgeous, the 78rpm sounds much better, so I put that one up.

Someday – I hope soon – I will do a posting on Neely, presenting you two solos with the Hampton band which Mario Schneeberger and me recently discovered to be by Neely.And of course watch this space for further installments of the Chicago Tenor Sax series (go here to read and hear the first part)!

Enjoy!

Unknown (well, almost) Don Byas

Posted in 78 rpm, jazz with tags , , , , , , on August 6, 2011 by crownpropeller

Hi, everybody

I have been away for some time and now as I am back – I am also back to work. So I am sorry if now I only add something to this blog that is also on my website. But since I guess no-one ever found it there, I decided to put his beautiful (and very rare) record up on my blog as well. Continue reading

Lionel Hampton at Strand Theatre 1948

Posted in Charles Mingus, documents, jazz, Lionel Hampton, Milt Buckner with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2011 by crownpropeller

UPDATE (August 19, 2012): The handwriting on the Srand Theatre photograph is not by Otto Flückiger, but by Milt Buckner (see comments section).

When I was down at the archives last week looking for documents in relation to Don Redman’s 1946 tour, I accidentally found a batch of gorgeous photos of Lionel Hampton’s band in 1948 and 1949 at New York’s Strand Theatre as well as from  the Howard Theatre Washington 1948.


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The photograph above was taken at the Strand Theatre in N.Y.C, between January 23 and February 1948. Unfortunately the photographer is not known (to me at least). On the edge of the photo Milt Buckner himself noted down the names of the musicians to be seen. I photoshopped the edge just enough to make his handwriting (very pale pencil) readable again. Too make identification easier, I have cut up the photo into several parts below. Continue reading