Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Bucking the trend ...


It's not often that we can hail the opening of a new record shop these days, so here's a sight to gladden the eyes of vinyl hunters in the South Side of Glasgow. It's a new record shop just opened in Shawlands Arcade in the premises formerly occupied by the much missed Salvation Sounds, and appropriately, if rather prosaically, called Southside Records. It might seem rather a dull name but the South Side is always overshadowed by the City Centre and the trendy West End, so three cheers for a business that's proud to fly the flag for Glasgow's forgotten half.


They've just started out, so the stock isn't exactly hoaching with rare R&B or jazz or rock and roll, but there's still a few gems. I picked up a copy of a Dutch bootleg LP on the Sundown label, "Suckin' and Blowin': Harmonica Blues" with tracks by both Sonny Boy Williamsons, Papa Lightfoot, Jerry McCain, George Smith, Long Gone Miles (I'd never heard of him, but what a name), and others. Good condition and good sound quality. Here's a few more shots of the interior:





My thanks to the extremely pleasant staff who gave permission for the photo session and my apologies for the quality of the shots. I've just started out on this digital SLR malarkey and I'm still basically on point and click. Although I try to maintain an ad free blog, I think I'll make an exception here, especially as they've got a nice vinylistic flyer. Oh, and they sell CDs and DVDs and books and stuff too.

By the way, that Doors double LP "Absolutely Live" was my favourite album for many years. I don't think it was ever issued as a CD. Many's the time I grossed out the neighbours with repeated drunken loud plays of "When the Music's Over", usually followed by the Velvet Undergound's "Venus in Furs" and "Heroin." Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.


Monday, 27 September 2010

Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - Cherry Red Blues


Volume One

Side One:

1. Cherry Red
2. Ashes On My Pillow
3. Kidney Stew
4. Queen Bee Blues
5. Somebody Done Stole My Cherry Red
6. Lonesome Train

Side Two:

1. Person To Person
2. My Big Brass Bed Is Gone
3. Rainy Mornin' Blues
4. I Need You Tonight
5. Featherbed Mama
6. Good Bread Alley

Volume Two

Side One:

1. I'm Gonna Wind Your Clock
2. I'm Weak But Willing
3. No Good Woman Blues
4. Jump And Grunt
5. Big Mouth Gal

Side Two:

1. The People On My Party Line
2. Peas And Rice
3. I Trusted You (But You Double-Crossed Me)
4. Bald Headed Blues
5. If You Don't Think I'm Sinking

All tracks recorded for King 1949 – 1952, except “Cherry Red” and “Kidney Stew”, which were recorded for Bethlehem in 1957.

Oh what an album to have as the follow up to the “Mr Cleanhead Steps Out” post! This 2LP set on the Gusto label was one of the earliest collections of the honkin’ and screamin’ variety of R&B that I bought. And not in some hip record store stacked full of obscure American imports either, but somewhat surrealistically in the basement of Littlewood’s department store in Argyle Street, Glasgow. They didn’t have much of a record department, but for some unknown reason they’d laid in a stock of Gusto LPs, mostly double album sets of the likes of Wynonie Harris, Little Willie John, Roy Brown, Freddie King, and on one set a mixture of tracks by Memphis Slim, Pete “Guitar” Lewis and Little Willie Littlefield. They sold for a modest £2.99 each and how I wish I’d bought the lot and not just the five which currently lurk on my vinyl shelves.

But to our tale … back in 1947 Eddie Vinson had enjoyed his biggest chart hit on Mercury with “Kidney Stew” / “Old Maid Boogie.” During that year he’d cut his big band back to a small jump combo and had been recording right up to within a couple of days of the start of the second AFM recording ban. When he resumed his recording career on August 10th 1949, he had signed with Syd Nathan’s King Records with whom he would stay until July 1952, laying down a series of dynamite blues tracks backed by tight-as-a-gnat’s-chuff combos which featured rip-roaring tenor sax from Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Buddy Tate and Lee Pope (who had played with Eddie back in the Cootie Williams band days.)

Despite the superb quality of these tracks (they are responsible for my 30 year addiction to this kind of music) they mostly didn’t sell well at the time. “Somebody Done Stole My Cherry Red” did reasonable business in 1949, although nowhere nearly as successfully as the hit to which it was a rather belated answer record, “Cherry Red Blues,” which Eddie had recorded with the Cootie Williams Orchestra back in 1944. Of the other King sides, “I’m Gonna Wind Your Clock” (1950) and “Person To Person” (1953) also managed to brush the charts.

There were probably two reasons for this lack of success. In the first few years of Eddie’s spell with King, Syd Nathan was promoting similar sounding sides by Wynonie Harris and Roy Brown, leaving little time or money to provide similar promotion for Eddie. In the latter years of Eddie’s King spell, trends and tastes in R&B were changing and vocal groups like The Dominoes and The Clovers were selling heavily to a new generation of R&B fans to whom Eddie, Wynonie and Roy must have seemed, well, kind of old fashioned.

From January 1954 to February 1955 Eddie was back with his old label Mercury for whom he recorded more stirring R&B tracks backed by groups led by Arnett Cobb and Leroy Kirkland, but once again sales were disappointing and obscurity beckoned. It was Eddie’s jazz background which saved him from the fate of so many of his R&B contemporaries. In 1957 he recorded the album “Cleanhead’s Back In Town” for jazz label Bethlehem which was distributed by King (being bought over by that label in 1960). He was backed by musicians from the Count Basie Orchestra and two of the tracks have snuck on to this compilation – “Cherry Red” and “Kidney Stew” – both reworkings of his old 1940s hits. I only discovered this recently as they don’t sound any different from the King material and it simply never occurred to me that they could be from later sessions for a different label.

Scan courtesy of Robert Termorshuizen
Scan courtesy of Robert Termorshuizen

Eddie’s music career lasted right up to the year of his death in 1988. There were jazz recordings, including a session with Cannonball and Nat Adderley (he had jammed with them many years previously in Florida) and an R&B comeback with the Johnny Otis Show at Monterey. There were tours and recording sessions in the UK and Europe, including the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival and there was a spell being backed by R&B band Roomful Of Blues. Forty years on, fans of both R&B and jazz were still able to enjoy live and recorded performances by one of the originals from the golden years of the 1940s, an era which for many now seems lost in the mists of time but which lives on in the hearts of latter day hepcats of all ages.

"Cleanhead" tribute in Blues & Rhythm, August 1988
Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps. Password = greaseyspoon

Download from here:

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Volume One

1. Cherry Red (New York, September, 1957)
2. Ashes On My Pillow (Cincinnati, August 10, 1949)
3. Kidney Stew (New York, September, 1957)
4. Queen Bee Blues (New York, May 22, 1950)
5. Somebody Done Stole My Cherry Red (Cincinnati, August 10, 1949)
6. Lonesome Train (Cincinnati, July 7, 1952)
7. Person To Person (Cincinnati, July 7, 1952)
8. My Big Brass Bed Is Gone (New York, May 22, 1950)
9. Rainy Mornin' Blues (New York, March 20, 1951)
10. I Need You Tonight (Cincinnati, July 7, 1952)
11. Featherbed Mama (Cincinnati, August 30, 1949)
12. Good Bread Alley (Cincinnati, July 7, 1952)

Volume Two

1. I'm Gonna Wind Your Clock (Cincinnati, August 10, 1949)
2. I'm Weak But Willing (Cincinnati, August 30, 1949)
3. No Good Woman Blues (Cincinnati, August 30, 1949)
4. Jump And Grunt (New York, May 22, 1950)
5. Big Mouth Gal (New York, May, 1950)
6. The People On My Party Line (New York, March 20, 1951)
7. Peas And Rice (New York, May, 1950)
8. I Trusted You (But You Double-Crossed Me) (New York, May, 1950)
9. Bald Headed Blues (New York, May, 1950)
10. If You Don't Think I'm Sinking (New York, May 22, 1950)

Recommended purchase:

Ace CDCHD 877
It just has to be “Bald Headed Blues (his complete King recordings 1949-52)" on Ace CDCHD 877. 26 tracks from the original masters with sleeve notes by Dave Penny. Included is the previously unissued Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson version of “Sittin’ On It All The Time,” a particularly wild version of which was a hit for Wynonie Harris in 1950. It is, of course, a raunched up rehash of Cleanhead’s old 1947 hit “Old Maid Boogie.” This particular CD belongs in my all time top 10 of R&B reissues by Ace. Go git it!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Earl, Earl, wo bist du?

Well that "Lovin' Honey" cover seems to have taken us a bit nearer to the elusive Earl Bostic LP cover, judging by the reaction of our seeker after the long lost cover shot of her sister -

Wow! That one made me do a double take! I am 99% sure it is not my sis, but you kinda see now what I am looking for. When she gets back to town I will double check with her if that is her posing.


Don't forget that the main album I am looking for has only HALF of her face on the left side.....

A regular correspondent of the blog has sent in a link to the rest of the covers in this series. It turns out that they're a collection of CDs by "Pan American Recordings" which are compilations of mainly rockabilly sides with a sprinkling of R&B, hence the Bostic track on this particular example.

The CD covers use what are obviously original 1950s photos of rather attractive young ladies. Luckily for all our sensitivities "Lovin' Honey" is a comparatively respectable cover when set beside most of the rest of the series. I had no idea that such things went on back then. My idea of 1950s America is mostly drawn from old episodes of the "Phil Silvers Show." I have to admit that the ladies on those CD covers all appear to be in excellent health. People must have had more nutritious diets back then.

Please keep searching, oh my fellow R&B fans. Perhaps the mystery will be solved soon ...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Cootie Williams & His Orchestra – Typhoon





Side One:
1. Typhoon
2. Saturday Night (vocal – Tony Warren)
3. I Can't Get Started
4. Save The Bones For Henry Jones (vocal – Bob Merrell)
5. Ooh La La (vocal – Bob Merrell)
6. I Want To Be Loved (vocal – Billy Matthews)
7. Divorce Me COD Blues (vocal – Eddie Mack)

Side Two:
1. Shotgun Boogie (vocal – Eddie Mack)
2. You Talk A Little Trash
3. If It's True (vocal – Billy Matthews)
4. I Shoulda Been Thinkin' Instead Of Drinkin' (vocal – Bob Merrell)
5. Sound Track
6. Inflation Blues (vocal – Bob Merrell)
7. I'm Beginning To See The Light (vocal – Tony Warren)

Here’s the follow up to the previous Cootie Williams post, “Echoes Of Harlem.” This LP compiles tracks drawn from the years when star vocalist and alto sax player Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson had left the band. There are only four instrumental tracks here, so we get a good sample of vocal performances in contrasting styles by a variety of singers. The bulk of the tracks are from 1947, the year in which Cootie had to cut down the big band to a small combo, plus there are a couple of tracks from early 1945 (when Vinson was temporarily absent from the band) and a couple of 1950 tracks featuring the blues shouter Eddie Mack.

“Saturday Night (Is The Loneliest Night Of The Week) and “I’m Beginning To See The Light” date from a February 1945 session for Majestic. Both are vehicles for the Sinatra style singing of Tony Warren, with good swinging backing from the band.

Between May 1945 and September 1946 the Cootie Williams Orchestra recorded for Capitol Records, with Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson leaving after the July 1945 session. By January 1946 trumpeter and singer Bob Merrell (real name: Merrill) had joined the band and contributed three vocal performances in a July 1946 session for Capitol. In the final Capitol session in September 1946 he cut two more vocals for the band – “Ain’t Got No Blues Today” and “Bring ‘Em Down Front.”

In early 1947 the band was back with Majestic Records, recording four tracks – “I Can’t Get Started,” which is a tremendous instrumental showcase for Cootie’s trumpet playing, “Sound Track”, a rousing flagwaver, “Inflation Blues” on which Bob Merrell does a reasonable imitation of Louis Jordan, and “I Want To Be Loved” which is a lachrymose, lugubrious performance by Eckstine style warbler Billy Matthews.

In July 1947 The Cootie Williams Orchestra recorded their final session for Majestic and for the last time as a big band. There was another mournful oh-my-God-I’m –gonna-cut-my wrists track from Billy Matthews in “If It’s True” but also three rousing hoarse-voiced R&B shouters from Bob Merrell in “Ooh La La”, “Save The Bones For Henry Jones” and “I Shoulda Been Thinkin’ Instead Of Drinkin’.”

In December 1947 the now slimmed down Cootie Williams band had signed for Mercury and their first session for their new company included the blasting “Typhoon” which featured frantic sax action from Bill “Weasel” Parker. A few days later the band backed label mate Dinah Washington as the record companies frantically stockpiled sides before the start of the second AFM strike on 1st January 1948.

The recording ban was probably the main reason why the seven piece band’s next session for Mercury didn’t take place until March 1949. By this time Weasel Parker had left and had been replaced by Willis Jackson. From this session came the record that would earn Jackson his nickname – “Gator Tail Parts 1 and 2” – a frantic two part honkathon which unfortunately is not only not on this LP, it isn’t in my collection in any format whatsoever.


Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson


Eddie Mack aka "Pigmeat Peterson"

At the next and last Mercury session in September 1949, blues shouter Eddie Mack was added to the personnel. He was also present along with Willis Jackson at the November 1950 session for Derby. Included here are Eddie’s spirited renditions of two covers of country hits – Merle Travis’s “Divorce Me C.O.D.” and Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Shotgun Boogie.” That was effectively the end of the R&B years for Cootie Williams and thus he fades from the annals of Be Bop Wino. In the late 1950s he returned to the jazz scene and in 1962 rejoined the Duke Ellington Orchestra, even staying on as a band member after the death of Duke. Cootie Williams died in New York City in September 1985.

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps.

Download from here:

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1. Typhoon
2. Saturday Night
3. I Can't Get Started
4. Save The Bones For Henry Jones
5. Ooh La La
6. I Want To Be Loved
7. Divorce Me COD Blues
8. Shotgun Boogie
9. You Talk A Little Trash
10. If It's True
11. I Shoulda Been Thinkin' Instead Of Drinkin'
12. Sound Track
13. Inflation Blues
14. I'm Beginning To See The Light

Recommended purchases:

Eddie Mack – The Complete Recordings 1947-1952 (Blue Moon BMCD 6026)


Eddie Mack’s real name was Mack Edmondson or Edmundson. He is remembered as being part of a lively Brooklyn blues scene centred on the Baby Grand Club. In 1949-50 he recorded three sessions for Apollo with the Bobby Smith band, which consisted mainly of musicians from the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, plus Willis Jackson at the first of these sessions. During this time he also recorded several sessions with the Cootie Williams band. In 1952, under the name Pigmeat Pedersen, he recorded “Please Be Careful” with Lucky Millinder for King Records. He also recorded a couple of sides as Pigmeat Peterson for the King subsidiary Federal. His last recordings were for Savoy in July 1952.

Bob Merrill – The Complete Recordings 1943 – 1961 (Blue Moon BMCD 6041)


In April 1947 Bob Merrell (Merrill) recorded under his own name for Aladdin, backed by a combo which included Count Hastings and Sonny Payne, – “You Took My Woman” / “Blues Without Booze” (Aladdin 3002). In early 1949 he recorded three sides for Apollo with a small group featuring Ike Quebec – “I’ll Always Be In Love With You,” “Baby I’m Tired” and “I Want A Little Girl” released in various combinations as Apollo 404 and 410. In March 1949 he recorded a single for Abbey backed by Sam “The Man” Taylor and His Orchestra (including Paul Quinichette) – “Low Down Groove” / “The Blues Is Here Tonight” (Abbey 3010). Probably from the same session, he was also on a single credited to Sam “The Man” Taylor – “Pyramid Boogie” / “Rinky Dinks” (Abbey 62.) He was last heard of recording for Bargain in 1960-61 as Bobby “Mr Blues” Merrell – “I Ain’t Mad At You” / “I’m Gonna Set You Free” (Bargain 5002.)

Friday, 17 September 2010

Still Desperately Seeking Earl

Well chums, it looks like the quest for the Earl Bostic LP covers has hit a dead end. Thank you to everyone who has emailed or commented. Our seeker after the Earl Bostic LPs which feature her sister on the cover has sent in a few more details after I passed on some of your suggestions to her:


can't thank you enough for the effort you are putting into this! Neither of those covers are my sister.
The main one I am looking for has a large shot of half her face - the left side if I remember correctly. She is kinda looking up in a Lauren Bacall come-hither expression. Her hair is long and dark and possibly with a reddish cast.
The flapper cover shows my sister and possibly 2 other women sitting on a piano.
Don't feel too disappointed if you have no luck with this. I have been looking ever since I signed on to the internet! It is peculiar though that these albums seem to have disappeared.


We can safely say that none of the covers shown below are the ones that are being sought:



However, it was a grand excuse for uploading a few babelicious covers! If anyone out there can help in the search for the mysterious record sleeves, please get in touch via the blog email or the comments.

STOP PRESS:


from Doc Rock ... could the gal on the front cover of this compilation LP be the one we're all looking for?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - Mr Cleanhead Steps Out





Side A
1. Mr Cleanhead Steps Out
2. When My Baby Left Me (Cootie Williams)
3. Juice Head Baby (Cootie Williams)
4. Kidney Stew Blues
5. I've Been So Good
6. It's A Groovy Affair
7. Old Maid Boogie
8. Shavetail

Side B
1. Gonna Send You Back Where I Got You From
2. Luxury Tax Blues
3. Wrong Girl Blues
4. Friday Fish Fry
5. I Took The Front Door In
6. Home Boy
7. Eddie's Bounce
8. Time After Time

Let’s get the nickname out of the way first. Eddie Vinson earned the soubriquet of “Cleanhead” after an overenthusiastic application of lye-based hair straightener burned his scalp and left him with a head as smooth as a baby’s bottom. By the time his hair started to grow back, Eddie had become so enamoured of his new look that he kept his head shaved for ever after.

He was born in Houston, Texas, in December 1917. Music ran in the family, both parents being pianists and a grandfather being a violinist. At around the age of 17 Eddie took up the alto saxophone and was soon so proficient that he was attracting the attention of local bands. However, it was with the territory band of Chester Boone that Eddie commenced his musical career. A former member of the Boone band was trumpeter and fellow native of Houston, Milt Larkin, who formed his own band in 1936, taking tenor sax man Arnett Cobb from the Boone outfit. Cobb recommended Vinson to Larkin and by 1937 Eddie was a member of what soon became the hottest territory band in Texas.

Sadly, the Larkin outfit remained unrecorded but it soon acquired a formidable reputation in battles against not only fellow territory bands, but also against national “name” bands. In the late 1930s and early 1940s the Milt Larkin band included musicians like Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, Tom Archia, Russell Jacquet and even T-Bone Walker for a short spell. At this time Eddie’s vocal efforts were limited to ballad singing, but while singing the blues in an impromptu backstage session in late 1941 he was overheard by former Duke Ellington trumpet player Cootie Williams.

Williams had come south to Houston with the intention of signing Arnett Cobb to the new band he was forming back up in New York. Cobb refused to budge, but after three attempts at persuasion Eddie Vinson made the long rail journey to New York City to become the star of The Cootie Williams Orchestra. In 1944 the band recorded several sessions for Hit / Majestic and it was the numbers which featured the distinctive voice of Vinson which became hits. “Cherry Red Blues” made it to number two on the Harlem Hit Parade and “Somebody’s Got To Go” reached number one.

In mid-1945 the Cootie Williams band signed with Capitol Records. In the first half of the year Eddie had been drafted and his alto sax chair was temporarily filled by Charlie Parker. Eddie’s asthmatic condition (which accounted for the peculiar wheeze and catch in his singing voice) plus the collapse of the Third Reich meant that his absence was a short one. He was back with the band for the July recording sessions at which he sang “When My Baby Left Me” and “Juice Head Baby.”

These were his last recordings for the Cootie Williams band. Having established himself as a major star (top R&B band vocalist in 1944), Eddie felt it was time to strike out on his own and before the year was out he was fronting his own big band on Mercury Records. There were fifteen men swingin’ on the fine instrumental “Mr Cleanhead Steps Out” which was backed with a remake of “Juice Head Baby.” The first single issued from the session had some superb blues hollerin’ – “I’ve Been So Good,” backed with a catchy swing instrumental “It’s A Groovy Affair.” The next session produced two further remakes of numbers Eddie originally recorded with Cootie Williams – “Cherry Red Blues” and “Somebody’s Got To Go.”

Original 78rpm disc scans courtesy El Enmascadero Del Platter




Before the end of 1945 there was a third recording session for the big band, but there was a gap of ten months before the band hit the studio again in October 1946, recording a lone single, “Cleanhead Blues” / “When A Woman Loves Her Juice.”

1947 is often cited as the year the big bands really hit trouble. At the beginning of the year many of the best known groups broke up. Benny Carter, Les Brown, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Jack Teagarden, Tommy Dorsey and Harry James all disbanded their aggregations, although some were to subsequently reform. In January of 1947 Eddie Vinson was back in the recording studio, but this time with a reduced seven piece line-up. The session produced his biggest hit under his own name – “Kidney Stew” / “Old Maid Boogie,” the eighth top selling R&B single of 1947.

There was one last big band session in mid-1947 (“Gonna Send You Back Where I Got You From”) but all subsequent recordings were with small jump band line-ups. Eddie’s stay with the Mercury label lasted until December 1947 with the last sides being made on the 28th as the second AFM strike loomed. “I Took The Front Door In” was a standard blues shout from Eddie, but “Shavetail” and “Friday Fish Fry” are interesting bop influenced instrumentals. Although it was his blues singing which provided Eddie with his biggest hits, it was his fine jazzy alto sax playing which would help prolong his career once the jumpin’ and shoutin’ style of rhythm and blues had gone out of fashion.

Eddie’s recording career didn’t resume until August 1949 when he signed with King Records with whom he stayed until July 1952. The King sides were the first Eddie Vinson records I ever heard (on a Gusto 2LP set) and mighty impressive they were too. But despite the outstanding musicianship on display (“Lockjaw” Davis and Buddy Tate were in the backing bands), none of the sides were hits. This was probably due not only to King honcho Syd Nathan concentrating on his two biggest R&B stars of the time, Roy Brown and Wynonie Harris, but also to the fact that by the early fifties Eddie’s jazzy jump blues was going out of style.

Of the three King sides on this LP, “Home Boy” is a loping blues shuffle with a great tenor sax break by Lee Pope who had been with Eddie since the days of the Cootie Williams band. “Eddie’s Bounce” is another boppish instrumental and most unusually, “Time After Time” is a ballad sung by Eddie, which takes us all the way back to his days as a featured ballad singer in the Milt Larkin band.

Some of Eddie’s King sides will feature in an upcoming post, but you can find a selection of them on the blog in Volume 3 and Volume 4 of the “Battle of the Blues” albums.

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps. Password = greaseyspoon

Download from here:

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1. Mr Cleanhead Steps Out (Mercury 2031, December (?) 1945)
2. When My Baby Left Me (Capitol 266, July 1945)*
3. Juice Head Baby (Capitol 237, May or July 1945)*
4. Kidney Stew Blues (Mercury 8028, January 1947)
5. I've Been So Good (Mercury 2030, December 1945)
6. It's A Groovy Affair (Mercury 2030, December 1945)
7. Old Maid Boogie (Mercury 8028, January 1947)
8. Shavetail (Mercury 8244, December 1947)
9. Gonna Send You Back Where I Got You From (Mercury 8051, April 1947)
10. Luxury Tax Blues (Mercury 8051, April 1947)
11. Wrong Girl Blues (Mercury 8244, June 1947)
12. Friday Fish Fry (Mercury 8110, December 1947)
13. I Took The Front Door In (Mercury 8138, December 1947)
14. Home Boy (King 4456, March 1951)
15. Eddie's Bounce (King 4381, August 1949)
16. Time After Time (King 4456, March 1951)

* = Cootie Williams & His Orchestra

Recommended listening – The JSP 4 CD set “Honk for Texas” as already recommended on the Big Jim Wynn post. Over 2 CDs of Eddie, from Cootie to King. Plus about one and a half CDs of Jim Wynn. Get it!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Cootie Williams & His Orchestra - Echoes Of Harlem


Side 1
1. Echoes Of Harlem
2. Things Ain't What They Used To Be (vocal – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson)
3. Tess' Torch Song (vocal – Pearl Bailey)
4. You Talk A Little Trash
5. Sweet Lorraine
6. Cherry Red Blues (vocal – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson)
7. 'Round Midnight
8. Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby? (vocal – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson)

Side 2
1. Blue Garden Blues
2. Floogie Boo (vocal – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson)
3. I Don't Know
4. Gotta Do Some War Work (vocal – Cootie Williams)
5. My Old Flame
6. Now I Know (vocal – Pearl Bailey)
7. Somebody's Gotta Go (vocal – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson)
8. Honeysuckle Rose

Continuing our look at the big band roots of rhythm and blues, we come to the Cootie Williams Orchestra. This 1986 Affinity LP offers a fascinating mix of influences and trends with former Duke Ellington “growl” trumpet player Cootie Williams leading a band which included pioneer bop pianist Bud Powell, alto sax player and blues shouter Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, powerful tenor sax men Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Sam “The Man” Taylor, and future R&B bandleader Leroy Kirkland on guitar. And there’s the additional ingredient of the vocal presence of star of stage, screen and radio Pearl Bailey on what are among her earliest recordings.

Cootie Williams was born with the rather more mundane moniker of Charles Melvin Williams in Mobile, Alabama in 1910. The nickname “Cootie” originated in early childhood when his father got into the habit of calling “Cootie, Cootie” when young Charles was learning to walk.

Cootie began playing the trumpet in his early teens and at the age of 14 he spent summer touring with the Young family band. That’s Young as in young Lester Young who made his debut with his family group. Cootie turned pro in 1926, having spells with territory bands like that of Eagle “Eye” Shields and the Alonzo Ross Deluxe Syncopators. After a couple of years at this level Cootie moved to New York where he had brief spells with Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson. In 1929 Cootie began an eleven year association with Duke Ellington during which he came to be regarded as the foremost trumpeter of his generation.

At the end of 1940 the world of jazz was rocked by Cootie’s sensational move from the Ellington band to Benny Goodman’s orchestra where he recorded with the full band and small groups featuring Lionel Hampton and Charlie Christian. Before 1941 was out however, Cootie was looking to lead his own big band. He took a trip down to Texas intent on enticing Arnett Cobb away from the territory band of Milt Larkin but instead it was Larkin's alto sax player Eddie Vinson who made the journey to New York to join the new band. Williams’ outfit was very much a blues-based dance band which suited Vinson who quickly became the star of the band’s appearances at the Savoy Ballroom and the Apollo Theatre.

The band’s first recordings were for Columbia / Okeh in April 1942 and included a version of Thelonius Monk’s “Epistrophy”, retitled “Fly Right.” Eddie Vinson was given a vocal outing on “When My Baby Left Me.”

The first AFM recording ban led to a delay before the next recording sessions were held on January 4th and 6th 1944 for the Hit/Majestic diskery. By now Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Bud Powell had joined the band. The sessions were split between small group and full band line ups and account for 12 of the 16 tracks on this LP. The remaining 4 tracks are from a full band session recorded for Hit/Majestic in August 1944, by which time Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis had been replaced by Sam “The Man” Taylor and Leroy Kirkland had joined the band.

The tracks include Ellingtonian swing (a revival of “Echoes of Harlem”), early bop (the first ever recording of Thelonius Monks’ “’Round Midnight”) and proto - R&B (Vinson’s “Cherry Red Blues” and a cover of Louis Jordan’s “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t?”)

In early 1945 Charlie Parker was brought in to replace Eddie Vinson who had been drafted but by the time the next recording session (for Capitol) came round at the end of May, 1945, Vinson was back for a rousing “Juice Head Baby.” Before the end of 1945 Vinson left to form his own big band and it has to be said that the Cootie Williams band was never quite the same again. And at this point the curtain falls on our humble post but you can follow the further fortunes of Cootie Williams and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson on subsequent posts. Stay tuned, you crazy swingsters!

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps.

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Recorded in New York City for Hit/Majestic in January and August 1944.

1. Echoes Of Harlem (January 6, 1944)
2. Things Ain't What They Used To Be (January 6, 1944)
3. Tess' Torch Song (January 6, 1944)
4. You Talk A Little Trash (January 4, 1944)
5. Sweet Lorraine (January 6, 1944)
6. Cherry Red Blues (January 6, 1944)
7. 'Round Midnight (August 22, 1944)
8. Is You Is Or Is You Ain't? (August 22, 1944)
9. Blue Garden Blues (August 22, 1944)
10. Floogie Boo (January 4, 1944)
11. I Don't Know (January 4, 1944)
12. Gotta Do Some War Work (January 4, 1944)
13. My Old Flame (January 6, 1944)
14. Now I Know (January 6, 1944)
15. Somebody's Gotta Go (August 22, 1944)
16. Honeysuckle Rose (January 6, 1944)