Sunday, 22 June 2014

"Hot Jazz" and "Race" Records

 
I originally meant to make this post solely about a Leo Parker December 1947 single release on Savoy - "Wild Leo" / "El Sino" but while browsing online through the Billboard issues of the period (available free via Google Books) I found myself reading up on the reviews of other releases. That's how this post "growed and growed" as I found myself wandering down the highways and byways of  late 1940s jazz and R&B.
 
So let's start with "Wild Leo" / "El Sino" (Savoy 912):
 



Recorded in Detroit, October 4th, 1947. Personnel: Howard McGhee (trumpet); Gene Ammons (tenor sax); Leo Parker (baritone sax); Junior Mance (piano); Gene Wright (bass); Chuck Williams (drums).

The disc was reviewed in the Billboard issue of December 13th, 1947. Of "Wild Leo" Billboard said: "Showcase for the bary horn of Leo Parker with boppish backgrounds." As for "El Sino": "Medium tempoed be-bop riffer with top notch Parker bary, Navarro trumpet solos." The trumpet player was in fact Howard McGhee, but Fats Navarro performs on a track further down this post.


The Leo Parker platter was reviewed in the "Hot Jazz" section. On the same page were reviews under the heading "Race" which was the term used by Billboard at the time for what would later (from June 1949 onwards) be called "Rhythm and Blues" in the trade journal. The platter in this section which caught my eye was the Bull Moose Jackson release on King 4181, "I Love You, Yes I Do" / "Sneaky Pete":



Recorded in New York City, August 1947. Personnel, largely unknown, except Bull Moose Jackson (vocals, tenor sax). This disc went on to become the fourth largest rhythm seller of 1948, behind "Tomorrow Night" by Lonnie Johnson, "King Size Papa" by Julia Lee and "Long Gone, parts 1 and 2" by Sonny Thompson. Bull Moose was the top selling rhythm artist of 1948, easily outselling Louis Jordan thanks to big hits like "I Love You, Yes I Do", "All My Love Belongs To You", "I Can't Go On Without You" and "Love Me Tonight".

Many Bull Moose discs featured a ballad on one side and a jump tune on the other side. Collections of his material which were released from the 1980s onwards tended to feature the latter, often featuring "lee-rics" such as "Big Ten Inch" and "I Want A Bow Legged Woman." His ballads were generally consigned to the dustbin of musical history. However, I managed to resurrect "I Love You, Yes I Do" from a 1979 "Old King Gold" LP, hence the dodgy sound quality despite some TLC on my conversion software.

Continuing my Billboard search on Leo Parker, I came across this Savoy advert in the issue of 20th November, 1948:

 
What Billboard rather condescendingly labelled "race" records are advertised by Savoy under "Tops in Pops" and "Tops in Bop" is used for jazz releases, which is preferable to the rather archaic sounding "hot jazz." In the late 1940s, Savoy was a big backer of both be-bop and sax-driven r&b. The biggest seller of the discs advertised above was Hal Singer's storming "Corn Bread" which was the 9th biggest selling rhythm platter of 1948 and the second biggest selling  rhythm instrumental on the charts, behind Sonny Thompson's "Long Gone" (Miracle 126) which featured Eddie Chamblee on tenor sax.


Baritone sax man Paul Williams' "Waxie Maxie" was also a good seller, although his "Thirty-Five Thirty" was an even bigger success. Other sax instros on Savoy that year included "September Song" by Don Byas and two from Wild Bill Moore: "Bubbles" and "We're Gonna Rock." Other labels were in on the sax action too - King / Gotham with "Temptation" by Earl Bostic, and Atlantic with "Blue Harlem" and "Midnight Special" by the Tiny Grimes band featuring Red Prysock.

Enough from me, it's time to rock and bop to four of the tracks from the above advert: "Waxie Maxie" by Paul Williams; "Spinal" by Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and his Be-Boppers (with Fats Navarro); "Cornbread" by Hal Singer; and "Barbados" by Charlie Parker.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Boogiewoody,

So glad to see you're back. I'm in your country right now - Edinburgh. If you're interested in checking out my recent blog (no new posts until I get back on July 2), Blues All Kinds has a link to it.

Hope you're well - and I love Scotland!

All the best,
Marie

Anonymous said...

We're Baaaaaack! PS- the Enmascarado All Stars played Barbados at our gig last Friday. I still need a 78 of it, though!