Friday, December 25, 2015

Seasonal Joys

As editor of Hans Koert's website and blogs I want to thank you readers for your support in 2015 and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2016. - It's the time for the seasonal joys, here are some musical recordings to accompany the spirit of the holidays.


Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Friday, December 18, 2015

When Lights Are Low - Lionel Hampton All-Star Session, September 1939

Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton signed a favorable contract with RCA Victor in 1937 that allowed him to invite musicians from other popular jazz orchestras of the time to record a series of sessions that otherwise would have been difficult if not impossible to organize. From 1937 to 1941 Hampton recorded 107 sides featuring musicians from the orchestras of Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Luis Russell, Fletcher Henderson, Fats Waller and Earl Hines, giving him the cream of the period’s soloists and rhythm players. These recordings rank among some of the best small band swing jazz of the late 1930s and they have since been reissued both on vinil and CD, i.e.. at the 5 CDs box-set from Mosaic some years ago, shown below (- unfortunately out of print).
Mosaic #238, The Complete Lionel Hampton Victor Sessions 1937-41
Here I like to put focus on a famous session from September 11, 1939 that unites Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Chu Berry and Ben Webster as the dream sax section with a young Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), Clyde Hart (piano), Charlie Christian (guitar), Milt Hinton (double bass) and Cozy Cole (drums); Hampton leads the session and contributes both on vibes and as vocalist.
Exerpt of discograpical info, Mosaic #238 (click to enlarge)
Benny Carter's arrangement of When Lights Are Low was the first tune and recorded in two takes, the second take probably is the best known featuring solo spots by Carter, Hampton, Hart and Hawkins

Coleman Hawkins
The first take of When Lights Are Low has a different solo by Hampton

One Sweet Letter From You has vocal by Hampton and the guitar playing obligato is by Charlie Christian (- here on acoustic strings)
Charlie Christian
The tenor solo is by Hawkins or Webster (- unfortunately I'm not the expert to differentiate the two in this session, sorry) 

Hot Mallets has a nice muted trompet solo by a young Dizzy Gillespie exchanging riffs with Carter's alto followed by a short tenor contribution by Chu Berry and a lengthy Hampton solo
Dizzy Gillespie

The last tune in this session was Early Session Hop that has fine examples of the sax section playing in unison followed by solos by Hawkins, Hampton and Carter
l-r: Webster, Carter, Berry, Hawkins (sax), Hart (piano)

What makes these recordings magnificent examples of small band swing of the late 1930s is not only the solo contributions by the reed players and the leader. The rhythm is execellently supported by great playing of both Milt Hinton's double bass, Christian's guitar comping and Cozy Cole's drums.
Cozy Cole
The rather short playing time of each of the recorded tunes leaves a wish for more, however, you could also say that the session is a fine example of the artistic formula expressing the experience that - sometimes - less is more ...!

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Nobody's Sweetheart

Original Sheet front illustration (1924)
Nobody's Sweetheart was published in 1924 with music by Billy Meyers and Elmer Schoebel, and lyrics by Gus Kahn and Ernie Erdman. The song was introduced by Ted Lewis  in the revue The Passing Show of 1923.
Part of music sheet front
Jazz musicians took an immediate liking to the tune, and ever since its inception it has been a favorite of jazz players and listeners everywhere.

Isham Jones and his orchestra
Isham Jones and his orchestra was one of the first 'hot' dance bands to record a version of Nobody's Sweetheart in February 1924

The lyrics of Nobody's Sweetheart are about a female character who challenges the norm and morality of the the bourgeois, the text reads: 
You're nobody's sweetheart now.
They don't baby you somehow.
Fancy hose, silken gown--
You'd be out of place in your own hometown. 
When you walk down the avenue,
They just can't believe that it's you.
Painted lips, painted eyes, 
Wearing a bird of paradise--
It all seems wrong somehow that
You're nobody's sweetheart now.

Marion Harris
Vaudeville singer Marion Harris  had a hit with Nobody's Sweetheart in 1929 

Cab Calloway and his orchestra
Bandleader Cab Calloway and his orchestra had success with the recording of Nobody's Sweetheart with vocal by the leader 1930

During the 1930s Nobody's Sweetheart became part of the standard book of the swing jazz ensemble, here I'll focus on two recordings made on December 5, 1938.

Freddie Valier's String Swing - Robert Normann far right
The guitarist Robert Normann recorded his first session with Freddie Valier's String Swing in Oslo on December 5, 1938. Among the four recordings was a version of Nobody's Sweetheart featuring a great solo by Robert Normann, inserted below

Oscar Alemán in the 1930s
Also on December 5, 1938, this time in Copenhagen, another version of Nobody's Sweetheart was recorded. Oscar Alemán recorded his solo version of the tune while on tour in Scandinavia with Josephine Baker - the recording is an unaccompanied solo for guitar by a master of the instrument

This particular recording by Oscar Alemán - together with the three other tunes recorded at the same session - was my step stone 35 years ago to embark on a research adventure of the complete discography of Oscar Alemán. Until recently the online discography patiently and carefully collected by Hans Koert has been the most complete listing of Alemán's recorded legacy. Now a revised and updated version of the material including newly found items has been made available by Andrés 'Tito' Liber. You may read more about it at the Oscar Alemán blog that also has the links to an uploaded and free accessible version of the discography, here 

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions