Monday, October 24, 2016

String Swing From Sweden

Emil Iwring
One of Sweden's remarkable jazz ensembles of the late 1930s and early 1940s was the string swing quintet named Svenska Hotkvintetten. The quintet was formed 1939, initially modeled after The Quintet of Hot Club of France (QHCF) that had visited Sweden and performed in Stockholm during February that year. The two concerts by QHCF were attended by an enthusiastic audience, among the crowd also some young Swedish musicians, who were thrilled by the string wizardry of Django & co.. Shortly after this event violinist Emil Iwring (1912-1999) took the initative in founding Svenska Hotkvintetten, the members carefully handpicked from several orchestras. Emil Iwring was born in Stockholm and started playing when he was eight years old. He intended to become a concert violinist but became instead a dance, jazz and entertainment musician, and he played his first job in 1926. He was soon considered a supreme jazz violinist, i.e. Svend Asmussen took a ride on his bike from Copenhagen to Stockholm in 1936 just to hear Iwring play a live performance.
Svenska Hotkvintetten (c. 1940)
Besides Emil Iwring on violin Svenska Hotkvintetten consisted of Sven Stiberg on lead guitar, Folke Eriksberg and Kalle Löhr on rhythm guitar and Roland Bengsson on double bass. As the members already were engaged in other jobs, the quintet mainly became a studio recording ensemble during its shortlived time from 1939-41 and frequently had changing members in the rhythm section. The quintet recorded about 40 sides for Columbia during this period, here's an example of the ensemble's version of string swing from 1940

Some years ago the Swedish label Dragon Records released a CD (DRCD 223) featuring 27 sides recorded by Svenska Hotkvintetten 1939-41; the audio has since been uploaded at YouTube, here  
Emil Iwring and his orchestra (1940s)
After Svenska Hotkvintetten had disbanded in the fall of 1941, violinist Emil Iwring formed his own orchestra which toured Sweden and made records for Columbia, the repertoire was both popular music and jazz - a discographical overview of the orchestra's recordings in the 40's is available here
 Below is inserted a couple of examples of the orchestra's jazz recordings - first the tune Friday The 13th from March 1942

In February 1943, the orchestra recorded Hot Love, a tune composed by Emil Iwring, who contributes both hot violin and vocals

Emil Iwring continued playing with his own ensemble in the 1950s and 1960s and also had radio work for several years besides touring Sweden and also performed on board cruise liners between Sweden and USA. He had a come-back as a regular jazz violinist in 1980 with the release of a LP titled Still Going String and he recorded two more LPs in the 1980s. One of them was re-issued by Four Leaf Clover Records as a mp3 download-only CD titled Nya Svenska Hotkvintetten in 2013, shown below
Emil Iwring, Nya Svenska Hotkvintetten FLCCD 198
Emil Iwring leads the quintet, contributing great violin playing throughout the eleven tracks in a repertoire of both hot and sweet tunes from the standard jazz book and a couple of examples of popular contemporary music including his own Så skimmanda var aldrig havet. Iwring is accompanied by very competent musicians: Rune Gustafson and Lennart Nylén are sharing solo lead guitar, Carl-Erik Holmquist on rhythm guitar and Sture Åkerberg on double bass. Download of the music in mp3 format may be purchased here and here
Emil Iwring, TV 1988 (YouTube still photo)
In 1988, Swedish television produced a live interview with and performance by Emil Iwring, a tribute to his importance as a jazz violinist in Sweden. The TV performance has been uploaded in two parts at You Tube and is accessible here and here
Sveriges Hot Six, Hot Love (LP, 1980)
The importance of the string swing tradition initiated by Emil Iwring and Svenska Hotkvintetten has been acknowleged by other musicians in Sweden. The above shown LP featuring a pick-up ensemble named Sveriges Hot Six was recorded 1979 for the Gazell label, a division of Sonet Grammofon. The title Hot Love traces back to Emil Iwring's tune with the same title and there are ten more tunes at the LP which originally were recorded by other significant Swedish jazz musicians of the swing era here arranged for a string swing sextet consisting of Anders Dahl (v), Lennart Nylén and John Kongshaug sharing lead solo guitar, Staffan Broms (rhythm guitar), Sture Nordin (b) and Jan Nyman (d). Last year the LP was reissued as a CD by Hot Club Records of Norway as volume two in the label's reissue series of recordings featuring John Kongshaug 
John Kongshaug, Sweden's Hot Six (2015) (HCR-442)
The shown CD was produced with permission and assistance by John Kongshaug's son, John-Ola Kongshaug, and it may be purchased as download here and here - Hot Club Records has uploaded the full audio of the album at YouTube including great still footage from John Kongshaug's career, accessible here

To end this, here's a video uploaded by John-Ola Kongshaug featuring his father John Kongshaug with Sweden's Hot Six playing the tunes Hot Love by Emil Iwring and Pan Pipe Riff by Swedish tenor sax pioneer Carl-Henrik Norin


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Carl Kress & Dick McDonough Guitar Duets Revisited

The Carl Kress - Dick McDonough duo (c.1936)
The classic guitar duet recordings   featuring Carl Kress and Dick McDonough have for a long time belonged to my favorite jazz guitar recordings from the 1930s. The duo recorded four sides for Brunswick 1934 and 1937 issued on Br 6917 and Br 7885. The audio has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below to have these masterpieces collected here.
Brunswick 6917, Danzon
The shown label of Danzon was the first recorded tune by the duo January 31, 1934, and the audio of this semi-classical piece of music is inserted below

The flip side of Br 6917 was a composition by Dick McDonough entitled Stage Fright, also recorded January 31, 1934
Brunswick 6917, Stage Fright

Original sheet music
In 1936 the Kress - McDonough duo recorded a short version of I've Got A Feeling You're Fooling for an Oldsmobile ad which is seldom heard. The audio of this has also been uploaded at YouTube

On February 16, 1937 the duo recorded two more sides for Brunswick in New York, the first featured was Chicken A la Swing, a co-work composition by the duo (-two takes exist, the best known has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below)
Brunswick 7885, Chicken A-La-Swing

Original poster ad
The flip side of Br 7885 featured the duo's version of Irving Berlin's Heat Wave
Brunswick 7885, Heat Wave

The four sides recorded for Brunswick were the only commercially released sides by the duo, however, Kress and McDonough also recorded some radio transcriptions in an all stars orchestra setting 1937 since re-issued commercially at the shown LP below
The Guitar Genius Of Dick McDonough & Carl Kress In The Thirties, JA-32
The tradition of the classic guitar duo work by Kress & McDonough has been continued by Marty Grosz and Bucky Pizzarelli a.o., and I was thrilled to find a contemporary, young Japanese duo at YouTube, who has uploaded a magnificent version of Chicken A La Swing, inserted here to end this small presentation of classic jazz guitar duet music.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

In The Mood - A Perennial Classic

Bluebird B-10416-A, In The Mood
Glenn Miller and his orchestra recorded In The Mood for the RCA Bluebird label in New York August 1, 1939, issued as Bluebird B-10416 (mx BS-038170-1). The audio of the disc has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below

Original film poster
In 1941, Glenn Miller and his orchestra was featured in the musical film Sun Valley Serenade  and performed In The Mood on screen

Joe Garland
On the Bluebird label above Joe Garland is credited as the composer of In The Mood. Joe Garland (1903-1977) was a saxophonist, composer, and arranger, who had started his career by playing classical music but switched to jazz in 1924. He had a long run of associations as a sideman on saxophone and clarinet during the 1920s, joining a.o. Elmer Snowden and Jelly Roll Morton. In the 1930s, Garland performed with and arranged for Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1932-36), played with Edgar Hayes (1937), Don Redman (1938) and Louis Armstrong (1939-42) and made the arrangement of In The Mood based on a tune originally recorded by Wingy Manone in 1930, Tar Paper Stomp 

Wingy Manone
Wingy Manone recorded Tar Paper Stomp on August 28, 1930 as by Barbecue Joe and his Hot Dogs for the Champion label, re-released 1935 as by Wingy Manone's Orchestra
Champion 40005 A - Tar Paper Stomp

Horace Henderson
Horace Henderson used the  'boogie woogie'-like riff from Tar Paper Stomp in Hot and Anxious, recorded by Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra on March 19, 1931 for Columbia

Don Redman
Don Redman and his orchestra recorded Hot and Anxious in 1932 for Brunswick in an arrangement at a faster tempo, the audio of this is available here
Edgar Hayes
The first recording of Joe Garland's version of In the Mood was made by Edgar Hayes and his Orchestra in 1938, with Garland participating, for Decca Records. In this recording there was a baritone sax duet rather than a tenor sax battle as in the version recorded later by Glenn Miller

The riff transferred from Tar Paper Stomp had also appeared in a 1935 recording by Mills Blue Rhythm Band entitled There's Rhythm In Harlem released on Columbia Records which had been composed and arranged by Garland (- audio version available here ). Before offering it to Glenn Miller, Garland sold In The Mood to Artie Shaw in 1938, who chose not to record it because the original arrangement was too long. The Hayes recording was over three minutes in length to fit on one side of a 78 record.
Bluebird, B-10289-B, Jumpy Nerves
Under copyright laws, a tune that had not been written down and registered with the copyright office could be appropriated by any musician with a good ear. Wingy Manone had brought up the issue of the similarity between Tar Paper Stomp and In the Mood to Joe Garland and to the publishing company of the tune. However, Tar Paper Stomp was not copyrighted until November 1941 - thus Manone had no legal claims against Garland's version of In The Mood. Wingy Manone then recorded a new tune entitled Jumpy Nerves for Bluebird on April 26, 1939 that incorporated the riff from Tar Paper Stomp - released three months prior to the Glenn Miller version of In The Mood from August 1 credited to Joe Garland 

Original sheet music front illustration (1939)
The tune had lyrics added by Andy Razaf and was finally sold in 1939 to Glenn Miller, who played around with its arrangement for a while. Although the arrangers of most of the Miller tunes are known, things are a bit uncertain for In the Mood. It has been assumed that Eddie Durham (who contributed other arrangements on the recording date of In the Mood, August 1, 1939), Chummy MacGregor (the pianist, composer, and arranger in the Glenn Miller Orchestra) and Miller himself contributed most to the final version. - The personnel on the landmark August 1, 1939 session at RCA studios in New York were: Glenn Miller, Al Mastren, and Paul Tanner, trombones; Clyde Hurley, Lee Knowles, and Dale McMickle, trumpets; Wilbur Schwartz, clarinet; Hal McIntyre, alto sax; Tex Beneke, Al Klink, and Harold Tennyson, tenor saxes; Chummy MacGregor, piano; Richard Fisher, guitar; Rowland Bundock, string bass; and Moe Purtill, drums.
Glenn Miller & his orchestra 1939
In The Mood is forever associated with Glenn Miller and his orchestra's version of the tune and in 1983 the 1939 recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The Glenn Miller Orchestra still exists with new members and performs around the World. Here's a live recording of the Glenn Miller Orchestra from December 2014 in Firenze performing In The Mood to end this story of a perennial classic

The above info is mainly excerpted from Wikipedia, here and further owes inspiration from published research in an article by Dennis M. Spragg: In The Mood (September 2013), available here 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Black Bottom Stomp

Jelly Roll Morton
On September 15, 1926 Jelly Roll Morton recorded his first session for Victor in Chicago featuring his Red Hot Peppers. Morton had signed a 4-year contract with Victor that would produce a series of recordings belonging to some of his best known output and have since become an important part of the jazz legacy of the 1920s. The first session produced four sides, Morton had assembled a group of musicians who could play in the New Orleans style and called them the Red Hot Peppers.

l-r: Omer Simeon (cl); Andrew Hilaire (d); John Lindsay (sb);
Johnny St. Cyr (bj-g); Kid Ory (tb) and George Mitchell (c)
Jelly Roll Morton (p,ldr,arr)
The first title recorded was an original composition by Morton titled Black Bottom Stomp, personnel are Jelly Roll Morton (p,dir,arr), George Mitchell (c), Omer Simeon (cl), Kid Ory (tb), Johnny St. Cyr (bj-g), John Lindsay (sb) and Andrew Hilaire (d), and the recording was released on Victor, Vi 20221

Victor 20221-A - Black Bottom Stomp
The music has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below

Black Bottom Stomp composed by Morton in 1925 and originally entitled Queen Of Spades is a key example of the New Orleans jazz style and demonstrates Morton's genius as an arranger of classic jazz. An analysis of the tune is available here

Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers 1926
At the same session on September 15, 1926 was recorded Smoke House Blues, inserted below from YouTube

The last tune to end this famous session by Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers was The Chant, originally composed by Mel Stitzel and here arranged by Morton. The tune was recorded twice during the September 15, 1926 session, audio from YouTube is inserted below.

The recordings featuring Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers were among the first jazz records I collected more than 45 years ago. They still belong to the core of my jazz collection and I am thrilled every time I'm listening to these jazz classics. Thus, I could not resist pointing to the start of this famous series of recordings, made ninety years ago today.

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Song Of The Islands

Hans Koert (1951-2014)
On this day it has been two years since my good friend and orginator of the Keepswinging website and associated blogs, Hans Koert (1951-2014), passed away all too soon. Hans left us a precious legacy of knowledge, enthusiasm and wit regarding the music he loved and generously documented and shared with the readers of his many articles still accessible. Before it was too late, I promised him to continue his work the best I can, a task I felt and still feel honored to fulfil. Hans and I shared many interests in music, thus, today I'll focus on a subject I know would have pleased him. In remembrance of a dear friend and a great friendship, this entry concerns the music of the popular English bandleader Felix Mendelssohn and his Hawaiian Serenaders.

Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn (1911-1952)
Felix Mendelssohn was a huge pioneer in helping make Hawaiian music popular in Europe throughout the 1930's and 40's. Born in London in 1911, he originally wanted to become a stockbroker but fate took him on a different journey as his love for Hawaiian music grew. Felix started out as a manager for various clubs and soon became the promotional manager for several band leaders. Felix formed his own dance orchestra that played on Radio Luxembourg and BBC as well as recorded for DECCA. It was in these performances that he would occasionally play a Hawaiian song. In 1938 Felix took over a band led by Canadian steel guitarist, Roland Peachy and renamed it "Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders". The band was successful in several recordings, but in 1940, Peachy left the band. Felix arranged for a stage tour and a two year contract with Columbia records in 1941. In 1942 the Serenaders made their first appearance in a variety show called the Yankee Clipper and at this time the Serenaders were becoming increasingly popular. The band made 50 short films and their music was reissued and famous all over the world. Felix built up an entire troupe of Hula Dancers from around the world  which he called his "South Sea Lovelies" in which Felix would make up a story about each dancer and would involve audience members in the show as well. In 1946 financial problems overcame the band which continued until 1950 when Felix appeared in bankruptcy court. After promising to repay his debts, he arranged another tour but it was a financial disaster and he had to arrange a free show for the Army so he could get back home. In the fall of 1950, Felix became ill with a stomach ailment and although he continued to work, his health became worse and on February 4, 1952 after entering the hospital, he died of Hodgkins' Disease at the age of 40. (Kanahele, George. Hawaiian Music and Musicians. Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii, 1979. Qoted from this source)

Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders ( photo courtesy this source)
I first heard the music of Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders on a LP reissue of some of the band's recordings associated with the popular swing jazz repertoire of the 1930s and early 1940s and was instantly caught by the high quality of the performance by this English ensemble - ever since I have been a fan of these recordings made 1940-41.
LP front, World Records, SH 394
Fortunately, a lot of material featuring Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders has since been reissued on CD, a discographical overview is available here

As mentioned in the quoted paragraph above, Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders made a considerable number of short films during the band's career. The British Pathé archive has saved a selection of these shorts which also have been uploaded on YouTube. Below I'll insert some examples here to share some memorable musical moments with Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders. - Here is first a performance of Song Of The Islands from 1939

As mentioned, the repertoire of the orchestra also included popular swing tunes of the time, here is a great performance of In The Mood from 1941

The steel guitar player of the Hawaiian Serenaders until 1941 was Roland Peachey -  Enjoy his excellent contribution to this performance of String Harmony from 1940

From 1944, here's a performance of Sophisticated Hula by the Hawaiian Serenaders which by this time had extended its members and replaced Roland Peachey with another steel guitar player (Harry Brooker?)

To end this small presentation of some of the music saved on screen by Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders, here is the ensemble's version of Aloha Oe featuring a hula dancing maid, paper moon and shady cardboard palm trees in the background - enjoy


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Monday, August 29, 2016

Knockin' On Wood

The xylophone is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by mallets. Here the term xylophone refers specifically to a chromatic instrument of somewhat higher pitch range and drier timbre than the marimba. Both the xylophone and the marimba, however, have wooden bars in common, while the vibraphone has metallic bars.

Red Norvo
Red Norvo was one of jazz's early vibraphonists, who helped establish the xylophone, marimba and later the vibraphone as a viable jazz instruments. Norvo began his career 1925 in Chicago where he played in a band named The Collegians and at the same time joined many other bands, even an all-marimba band. At one point he was engaged by Paul Whiteman and later recorded with Frankie Trumbauer (1932) and Victor Young's orchestra (1933). In 1929, Norvo had recorded two sides under his own name for Brunswick, but they were unissued. His first issued session under his own name was recorded on April 8, 1933 in New York for Brunswick. Two self penned tunes were recorded, Knockin' On Wood and Hole In The Wall, issued on BR 6562

Discographical info from Tom Lord Discography Vers. 9.0 (click to enlarge)

Knockin' On Wood,  BR 6562
Norvo is accompanied by Jimmy Dorsey (cl), Fulton McGrath (p), Dick McDonough (g) and Artie Bernstein in both tunes, inserted below from YouTube audio-videos - First Knockin' On Wood

The flip side of BR 6562 had the recording of Hole In The Wall

This session pleased Brunswick's recording director Jack Kapp and Norvo was booked for another session. This time, Kapp was out of town and Norvo went ahead and recorded two of the earliest, most modern pieces of chamber jazz yet recorded: Bix Beiderbecke's In a Mist and Norvo's own Dance of the Octopus. Playing marimba instead of xylophone in this session, Norvo was accompanied by Benny Goodman in a rare performance playing a bass clarinet, Dick McDonough on guitar and Artie Bernstein on double bass. Kapp was outraged when he heard the recordings and tore up Norvo's contract and threw him out. Nevertheless, this modern record remained in print all through the 1930s. - The recording of In A Mist and Dance Of The Octopus was made on November 21, 1933 in New York

Discography info, Tom Lord, Vers. 9.0 (click to enlarge)

In A Mist, BR 8236
Both tunes have been uploaded at YouTube and are inserted below, first In A Mist

And here is the remarkable Dance of the Octopus

Both tunes are semi-classical pieces and early examples of chamber jazz. The music is further a guide to Norvo's later career which spanned both swing, be bop and cool jazz - the experience from these early recordings opened the opportunity of experiement and supported Norvo's talent for adapting his chosen instrument the changing vogue in jazz. - A modern performance of Dance of the Octopus is inserted below to remind us that even experimental music can be fun when taken serious


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Monday, August 22, 2016

Toots Thielemans (1922 - 2016)

Toots Thielemans
Today the media have spread the sad news that the well known Belgian jazz musician Toots Thielemans passed away this morning at age 94. A career profile is available here , and the official website including bio and discography here.

The keep(it)swinging blogspot likes to commemorate Toots Thielemans through his world famous composition from 1962, Bluesette - Here the original recording from the album The Whistler & His Guitar featuring Arnold Fishkind (b), Sol Gubin or Don Lamond (d), Toots Thielemans (gtr & whistling), Dick Hyman (org)

Toots Thielemans was considered the world's foremost performer of the jazz harmonica, here he is in a concert performance in The Netherlands 2009 playing Bluesette on the mouth organ

Toots Thielemans (29 April 1922 – 22 August 2016) RIP 


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