Attention Mac Users!

Mac users have been experiencing problems in unpacking the WinRAR archives used on this blog. Two solutions have been suggested.

1. Use The Unarchiver - www.theunarchiver.com - see comments on Little Esther Bad Baad Girl post for details.

2. Use Keka - http://www.kekaosx.com/en/ - see comments on Johnny Otis Presents post.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Dance Of The Tambourine / I Keep Rollin' On - Hot Lips Page (Savoy 521)

William Gottlieb Collection - Library of Congress



Recorded in New York City on June 14th, 1944. Personnel: Hot Lips Page (trumpet, vocals); Floyd "Horsecollar" Williams (alto saxophone); Don Byas, George Johnson (tenor saxophones); Clyde Hart (piano;) John Simmons (bass); Sidney Catlett (drums)

A great jazz trumpeter and blues singer, Oran "Hot Lips" Page was born in Dallas, Texas in 1908. As a young man he was part of classic blues singer Ma Rainey's backing band. In the late 1920s - mid 1930s he was in the Kansas City band scene, playing with Walter Page's Blue Devils, Bennie Moten and Count Basie. He left the Basie outfit before it broke big, for a solo career which somehow never fulfilled its potential. Although he spent some time with the Artie Shaw big band, Hot Lips' forte was working with small groups in the New York jazz scene and taking part in after hours jam sessions at venues like Minton's Playhouse.

Savoy Records, founded in 1942, recorded many artists who featured in the small bands which were part of the NYC jazz club scene. An advert in Billboard from the 4th November 1944 lists releases on Savoy by Pete Brown, Tiny Grimes, Don Byas, Ben Webster, Cozy Cole, Johnny Guarnieri and Miss Rhapsody. On the same page, the "Harlem Hit Parade" was topped by "Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You" by the King Cole Trio, with other notable discs being "Hamp's Boogie Woogie" by Lionel Hampton, "Cherry Red Blues" and "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" by Cootie Williams, "I Wonder" by Cecil Gant, and "No One Else Will Do" by The Five Red Caps. Small independent labels occupied 6 of the 10 positions, having taken advantage of the major labels losing ground due to a musicians' strike which started in 1942 but rumbled on into 1944 with majors RCA and Columbia holding out to the last.

Hot Lips Page's background of Kansas City jazz, small group Harlem jump and blues shouting meant that most of his subsequent recordings were in the R&B field although he did make several tours to Europe as a jazz musician. His career ended prematurely in 1954 with his early death due to the hard work and hard living commensurate with the life of a jazz musician.

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.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

"Too Tired" - Johnny "Guitar" Watson


This is an alternate take of the B side of RPM 431, the A side being "I'm Gonna Hit That Highway" aka "Don't Touch Me Baby."



Both sides were recorded in Los Angeles in January 1955. Johnny "Guitar" Watson (guitar, vocals) was accompanied by the Maxwell Davis Orchestra featuring James Parr (trumpet); Maxwell Davis (tenor sax); Big Jim Wynn (baritone sax); Willard McDaniel (piano); Billy Hadnott (bass); Jesse Price (drums). Just about all of these names will be familiar to long time followers of this blog.

The reason I chose this particular track as the headline of this post is that the title sums up the reason why I haven't posted since last September. I can only apologise to everyone for dropping out of sight for so long. Ever increasing pressure of work has kept me away from blogging. On top of that (or perhaps because of that) I lost my enthusiasm for music - months went by during which I listened to no music at all. Every evening I was coming home from work and finding myself too tired to do anything much other than fall asleep in front of the TV. Not a good situation to be in.

Faced with this dilemma - working or enjoying a reasonable quality of life - there was only one thing to do. Yes, you've guessed it - give up work. I'll be retiring from drudgery in a few months time (end of August) and so I'll be able to devote time to keeping Be Bop Wino up and running.

The good news is that during the first half of my absence I ripped a bunch of vinyl discs to mp3, including the tracks on this post, and so there is a stockpile of material to post.

The bad news concerns Rapidshare. I was able to maintain a large back catalogue of links by taking out a Rapidshare premium account which cost around £8 per month. Unfortunately Rapidshare have decided to increase the cost to around £50 per month which is a total rip off, so many of these links will die as I refuse to stump up that amount of cash. If anyone has any advice on alternative file sharing sites, please get in touch.

Anyway, back to Johnny "Guitar" Watson. In late 1952 he made his recording debut on piano and vocals on the Chuck Higgins and his Mellotones single "Pachuko Hop" / "Motor Head Baby" (Combo 12) and I've featured these tracks on the playlist below. In 1953, billed as "Young John Watson", he was signed by Ralph Bass for Federal where he recorded the astonishing "Space Guitar" in amongst pretty standard R&B fare which included a re-recording of "Motor Head Baby."

In 1955 he was signed to the Bihari Brothers' RPM label. I've included a further 3 tracks from his RPM output on the playlist, all recorded around 1955 in Los Angeles. The RPM sides are all alternate takes to the original released versions - "I'm Gonna Hit That Highway" (RPM 431), "Those Lonely, Lonely Nights" (RPM 436) and "She Moves Me" (RPM 471). "Those Lonely, Lonely Nights" was originally recorded by Earl King. Johnny's cover version was his most successful release on RPM.

Here's a short playlist of some of Johnny's RPM work - all alternate takes to the released versions, plus Chuck Higgins and his Mellotones on Combo. Fans of swing and jump will recognise the "Pachuko Hop" riff - it's Lucky Millinder's "Apollo Jump."