VA-Odessa Sound of Jazz

This was one dollar.  I got it for the Texas tie in.  Being in the  oilfield for some time, I have made quite a few trips to that lovely land we know as the Permian Basin. I have flown into Midland International with the birds flying inside the airport, stayed in some of the crappiest hotels in town (not exactly true- most hotels were more mid range crappy), seen Permian High and the football stadium, driven by the 7-11 in Friday Night Lights, and struggled to find a decent place to get a beer as most places seem hidden to foreigners.  Strange town to an outsider, none the less the traveling salesman.  If it can’t be done in the Basin, then it really ain’t worth doing to most locals.

Which strikes me as odd, then that I found this jazz album as I would not see the Basin as having a thriving jazz scene.  Most Google searches pull up the jazz events in Odessa, in Russia.  A search for Jazz musicians pulls up people from El Paso and Dallas.  A listing of jazz clubs also shot blanks. So I am not sure that these is much in the way of jazz these days in the Basin.,

But back in 1977, it was a different story.  With the help of local surgeon Dr O.A. Fulcher, jazz parties were staged (11 according to the back cover) thru private subscription.  This is the first volume of jazz from one such party, thrown at the Ballroom Inn of the Golden West.  According to the back cover, 400 people were in attendance. The liner notes suggest that this is the first in what they hoped would be a series but I am guessing it never made it that far. According to his wife’s obituary, Fulcher died in 1977 probably some time after this record.  My guess is that West Texas Jazz died with him. Incidentally, O.A. was Mary Fulcher’s third husband, and after the untimely passing of all three, remained single until her death in 2013.  I am not sure what this adds to the narrative of this post. I just found it an odd fact and a testament to people’s perseverance over personal tragedy.

Well, hold the phone with that.  It seems as of late with this blog, I have taken to writing things, then researching them , and thus having to come back and change my proclamations.  Kind of seems par for course with journalism these day.  Anyway, according to sources, the West Texas Jazz parties still happen.  The celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2013.  Sorry to poke fun, but Jazz parties just sound too much like something out of Reefer Madness especially as described in the video link.

Link to webpage about documentary of Jazz in West Texas

Decent album, as far as jazz goes.  I was a little surprised as I set my expectations low. I am assuming the musicians were not from the Odessa area.  Over all good album.  I liked a couple of tracks on here.  I felt all of side one was real good, but ultimately as I do not like posting tracks over 10 minutes if I don’t have to, had to pass it by for something shorter.

Which I found on side 2. At first I was going to go with the shortest song on the album.  But after I heard “Oh Lady Be Good”, I knew this was the song for this post despite coming in over 8 minutes.  It was probably the inclusion of vocals that hooked me to this track, Featuring Clark Terry on trumpets and vocals, Carl Fontana on trombone, Flip Philips on Tenor Sax, Peanuts Hucko on clarinet, Dave McKenna on piano, Jack Lesberg on bass, Mousey Alexander on drums, and Herb Ellis on guitar , here is that track.

Pretty decent album.  And despite being all over the place with this post, I learned something that I would have probably taken for granted.  Satisfactory.

Bonzo Dog Band- Beast of the Bonzos

This was not marginally $5, but I had the clerk assign the extra amount to a $1.  I got this as I really wanted to feature this band on this blog as they have two tie ins to pop culture.

The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band (later shortened to the Bonzo Dog Band) was an English trad-jazz band formed by art students who were swept up in the early 60’s 1920’s sound spearheaded by the Temperance 7 and The Alberts.  As they started to move thier sound into rock, they got two big breaks.  First Paul McCartney asked them to appear in the Magical Mystery Tour where they performed “Death Cab For Cutie”.  This is where the band of the same name got said name (pop culture tie in #1).

Second, around the same time, they got a gig on the TV for the children’s show Do Not Adjust Your Set in which they were the resident band.  Along with David Jansen and Denise Coffey, the show also featured Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and the occasional cartoon by Terry Gilliam.  Two writers from The Frost Report, John Cleese and Graham Chapman, were fans and from there, Monty Python was born.  Bonzo’s Neil Innes also appeared on a few episodes as well as movies. (Pop Culture tie in #2).

This album is a collection of hits of sorts.  It has some of my favorite tunes which showcase the British wit and humor that is the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.  Pretty good little album which if there is any complaint, is too short. If you want to learn more about the band and its members, well here is a link.

“It May Be Rubbish- But by Golly, it’s British Rubbish”

For samples, I went with three.  First off, to start is the “Intro/Outro”.  It should be noted that this track actually does contain a snipet of Eric Clapton playing ukulele. Also, if you are curious, the first seven or so members are actually in the band. The band plays an abridged version the very beginning of this episode complete with members of the show.

Second, I went with what is probably one of my favorite tracks and one that throws back to the group’s original sound, “Hello Mabel”.

Finally, I am ending it with a distortion heavy ode to self-help ads and body building, “Mr Apollo”.

Great little record.

Django Reinhart- Vol IV

For a dollar, this is a major find.  There is no greater guitarist who has influenced generations of players than the Gypsy King, Belgian-born, French-bred Django Reinhardt (1910-1953).  He wrote the book on hot jazz guitar.  He was also the first significant jazz musician to come out of Europe.  Probably still the most significant, for that matter.

And the most amazing part is that he did it with two fingers.  Due to injury from a fire in his late teens I believe, Reinhardt lost the use of his fourth and fifth finger. As a result, he re-taught himself how to play guitar with his thumb and two good digits.

Influenced by the emerging jazz sound from America, Reinhardt met violinist Stephane Grapelli who shared similar musical interests.  The two formed a quintet that played at Paris’ Hot Club from 1934 until the outbreak of WWII in 1939.  Reinhardt’s brother Joseph was also a member of this group.

Towards the end of his life, Reinhardt experimented with electric guitar and bebop.  A brain hemorrhage claimed his life in 1953.  Maybe not so young for jazz musicians of the last century, but none the less, he was 43. If not for the hemorrhage, he probably would have died of lung cancer, given all the pictures I have seen of him smoking.

The tributes to Reinhardt have been many. Although initially, jazz aficionados in the US were slow to accept the guitar as a jazz instrument, he is widely regarded as influential to the genre as Duke Ellington or Louie Armstrong. Many guitarists, too numerous to name here, have counted him as an influence.  Furthermore, guitarists such as Jerry Garcia and Tommi Iommi, both of who lost digits on their fretting hand, were influenced by Reinhardt’s handicap.  Perhaps the most amusing tribute came from Woody Allen in his movie Sweet and Lowdown. In the film, Sean Penn plays a jazz guitarist who is idolizes Reinhardt.

This is a collection of songs recorded in Paris between 1934 and 1935 with Grapelli and the quintet.  Reinhardt recorded over 900 songs during his short career.  As the title would suggest, this is the forth volume of a posthumous series.  Pretty decent collection.  As with most of the recordings, Grapelli’s virtuoso violin playing is overshadowed by the guitar. But a good collection, none the less, and it served its purpose quite well, getting an opportunity to post Reinhardt to this blog.

DJango’s discography

For a sample, I went with “Tiger Rag” as I have posted it already on this site by different artists.

Great record.  Satisfactory.  Again, I wanted to do more with this post but was sadly limited by time.

Caterina Valente- Cosmopolitan Lady

I liked the last Caterina Valente album I bought so I decided to pick this one up.  At $3, it seems a bit pricey considering the cover is falling apart in all directions and there was no record sleeve.

Caterina Valente, the Italian bred, French born singer, made a career out of her international style.  I wrote a bit about her on the last album I posed of hers.  Well, not much, but it is more than I will write today. As the clips show below, she knew how to work early television.

Link to Earlier link

This seems to be, according to discogs.com,. a South African release from 1958 from Polydor.  It is a collection of her early hits, including “Malaguera” and “The Breeze and I”.  In regards to the latter, I found this album’s version of “Breeze” to be quite tempid compared to the last version I posted.  Anyway, she sings in five languages on this album (Spanish, Italian, French, English, and German).

For a sample, I went with “Malaguera”.  I also went with “Bravo Caterina” as I think it takes a pair of brass ones to name check yourself in a song.

Great little album that is falling apart on me.  Satisfactory.

Baja Marimba Band- Heads Up

Well, finishing this anniversary month with this effort.  I am sure Herb Alpert would have been a more fitting choice, but as I do not have anymore of his albums, here is the next best thing.  This was $1.  I got it for “Georgy Girl”.

I didn’t realize it until I wrote this post, but this month’s selections are rather vibe heavy.  Well, no turning back at this point.  Released in 1967, this would have been the band’s fifth album.  It is a decent collection of songs. led by marimba-ist Julius Wechter. A decent enough track list although it has one of the more tepid versions of “Temptation” on it.

For a sample, I went with the song I liked the most, “The Cry of the Wild Goose” although it sounds very derivative of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” which was presented on an earlier post from this band. I also decided to go with “Georgy Girl” as well since it was the reason I bought this record.

Satisfactory record.  Thank you for joining me this month for what has been this blog’s second anniversary.

Terry Snyder and The All Stars- Persuasive Percussion Vol 2

This was $2.40.  Since it is a Command record, plus it has a version of my favorite song, “Brazil”, buying it was a no-brainer.  In fact, as with other Command records, I bought this twice.  I am unsure how much I paid for the second copy.

About a couple weeks ago, I saw Pink Martini play at Jones Hall.  In all honesty, when I bought the ticket, I thought I was going to see the French Pink Turtle, who play pop tunes in a hot/swing jazz style.  After discovering my mistake, I read enough good things to go ahead and see Pink Martini.  And they were pretty good.  If I had to describe them, I would say they were a lot like seeing this blog  live.  Interestingly arranged tunes from a diverse source, with styles and languages from around the world.  They were backed by the Houston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Steven Reineke.  They had a great version of Dvorak’s Moon aria, from Rusalka. It was a really great show.  Anyway, they also closed the set with a great version of “Brazil” which brings us here.

Of all the songs I frequently post on this blog, “Brazil” written by Ary Barroso in 1939, takes the title as the most posted. I am not 100% sure why this watercolor ode to the country where I should disclose I was born and spent the first year of my life hits home to me.  Perhaps it is the beat and the rhythm, or the wonderful melody lines.  I am not going to go much deeper in the subject other than my favorite version is that done by Esquivel.

This is the second series of Persuasive Percussion.  The first volume sold well and proved to be popular for the label.  Drummer Terry Snyder served as the band leader on this effort and for his part assembled three groups of Command musicians for this record.  The first group featured a large orchestra along with additional drummers Wille Rodriguez and Artie Marotti.  The second group keeps the three drummers with a simple saxophone, trumpet, and trombone, plus a rhythm section.  The third group adds Doug Allen to the drum circle along with an expanded rhythm section.  Standard Command performers include Doc Severinsen, Tommy Matola, Urbie Green, and Dick Hyman.  The effort was produced by none other than Enoch Light.

Link to Terry Synder’s Spaceagepop page

This album is a pretty good collection of tunes and does put a highlight on the percussion end which some percussion albums oddly fail to do. A lot of good moments here.  For a sample, I decided to go with ” In A Persian Market” which features Severinsen’s trumpet. I also went with the centerpiece of today’s blog, “Brazil”.  Pretty decent version.  I have yet to hear a real awful version of this song but as soon as I can post one, I will.

Good record, Satisfactory

Lionel Hampton- Lionel Plays Drums, Vibes, Piano

This $3.  I like Lionel Hampton a lot as well as any album that has smooth vibes.  This record, BTW, is French.

Hampton, born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1908, started his life as a drummer playing around Chicago before moving out to the West Coast around 1928.  While playing drums for Les Hite in California, Hampton started picking up the vibraphone.  When Hite’s band was picked to back up Louis Armstrong, Armstrong turned to Hampton to provide the vibes on two numbers.  Thus, Hampton’s career on the instrument was born.  After work with Benny Goodman, Hampton led his own band.  His output would slow as he aged.  Hampton would die in 2002, buried adjacent to Duke Ellington and Miles Davis.

This record was released in 1958 and is around his 22nd record, give or take.  Pretty good little record here.  As the title would suggest, it features his work on drums and piano, but most importantly, the vibraphone.  Again, this album is swinging.  I wanted to use almost every song as a sample.

So far samples, I decided to go all out.  For a sample on Hampton’s vibe work, I submit Cole Porter’s “Just One Of Those Things”.  His drum work is in full effect on “Tracking Problems”.  “Blues For Stephen” showcases the piano.  Finally, what I imagine is Hampton’s vocals can be heard on “And The Angels Sing”. I realize this is four songs and a bit lazy on my part but again, this is a real good album.

Top Rated.

Enoch Light- Command Performances

Starting another week of the Two-Year Anniversary month for this blog with artists who are frequently spotlighted on this site.  Enoch Light is one such artists. Due to the high quality standards and imaginative arrangements of Light, I always buy a Command Record when I see one for sale.  That would probably explain why I have two copies of this album. This copy was $1.00.  The other was $1.20.

This album is a collection of songs from previous efforts from the first five years of the Command label.  I guess that is why I thought I had heard some of these songs before when I read the song titles. With selections personally chosen by Mr Light himself, this record features a collection of showtunes and standards, arranged specifically for stereo performance.

Anyway, this album, from 1964, has everything you would expect.  Good sound quality and excellent arrangements that sonic-ally push boundaries.I liked a good bunch of these songs, but I finally settled on “Rio Junction”, a bossa-nova which was written by Light and his associate, Lew Davis.  It is an excellent piece.

Satisfactory record.

Bert Kaempfert- Warm and Wonderful

Keeping the anniversary month full of frequent guests with this effort from the German Bert Kaempfert and his orchestra.  I am sure I bought it for the Bob Crewe-penned “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”.  That and the soft red cover.

Link on the Red Lion Pub mentioned below

More love affair with the above mentioned song started in Twickenham, UK in 2001.  I was in a pub called the Red Lion, I think and I was watching a cover band , consisting of young kids.  They were pretty good.  They announced they were going to sing a song although they had no idea about the place it was about.  They then went into Lynard Skynard’s “Sweet Home Alabama”.  “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” was their last number and every other young person went crazy during the chorus, with almost all of them singing the “I Love You BAY-BEE” part. Anyway, I had a great night there witnessing a lad of 19 try to get in a fight as well as playing snuka with the owners afterhours.

By the time this came out, the one-time manager of the Beatles career was in full swing as he had more than a few albums under his belt.  This came out in 1969 on Decca. According to the back cover, 80% of the songs are Fox Trots. The Fox Trot, incidentally, was invented in 1914 by Vaudevillian Harry Fox.

History of the Fox Trot

Anyway, here this: an easy listening collection of plush orchestrated music in the typical style of the artist.  The songs are pretty decent.  For a sample, I went with “This Guy’s In Love With You”, mainly for the use of allusion to another German composer with the insertion of a very Wagner-esque string line on the chorus.  And since I really can not include a story about a song without said number, here is “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”.

Satisfactory records. Really killing it writing frequent guest posts.  Should do this more often.

 

The Stradivari Strings- Ping Pong Percussion of Rodgers & Hammerstein

There are two things I frequently post on this page: percussion and Rodgers and Hammerstein.  Maybe three things if you separate the duo. And perhaps a more accurate thing to say is among the things I frequently post as I have many recurring theme on this blog.  Anyway, this was a dollar.  I bought it because it combines two of the said recurring themes.

It is not that Rodgers and Hart did not write successful songs a lot of their works have become standards.  It is just with Hammerstein, the everything about productions seemed to be on a grander scale.  Other than Pal Joey, I can no think of another Rodgers/Hart musical.  I can name five Rodgers/Hammerstein musicals off the top of my head.

This record came out on Pirouette Records, a subsidiary of the Synthetic Plastics Company.  I did a post on them sometime back but can not remember which album.  Anyway, apparently there is a whole series of Ping-Pong Percussion records with such stars as Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Leroy Anderson.  Okay, perhaps, three does not a series make, but you get the point. I am sure the Stradivari Strings was a house band.  Not sure why you would connotate a percussion album with a string band, but this is what Pirouette chose to do.  From what I can tell, this came out sometime in the early ’60’s

Overall, I felt the album was a pretty good interpretation of the duo’s work.  On a personal level, I could have used more songs that I like, but to counterpoint, it probably made for a better album by highlighting lesser known songs.  As far as the percussion goes, the album does ok at the beginning of the songs but does tend to go more into the strings about mid-way each tune. I have heard worse percussion albums but I wonder the reasoning behind naming this Ping Pong Percussion.

For a sample, I was torn between Carousel‘s “June is Busting Out All Over” and South Pacific’s “Some Enchanted Evening”.  Carousel, in particular, has been steadily rising for me, while Oklahoma keeps slightly falling.  I feel that the whole resentment of Judd is kind of messed up. Well back to this, I could not choose between the two so here is both.

Satisfactory.