Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks- Orginal Recordings

Yet another week.  Saints be praised.  Here we are with this little gem by Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks, who I blogged about a couple months back.  I bought this shortly after his death for what I believe was $1 from Sig’s Lagoon, which I no longer go to because I tend to leave there with 30+ records per trip.  No slight against Sig’s and on the contrary, I highly recommend it for a record shop.  Overall, I did well this year in really limiting my purchases but I still have a ways to go before I can really splurge again.  And as previously noted, shopping for records was my favorite part of this blog.

But here we are with the first record from Mr Hicks and his Licks of Hot.  Released in 1969, it features the first line up of the band with Sid Page, Sherry Snow, Christine Gancher, Jamie Leopold, and Jon Weber.  This line up would break up in 1971.

I did not know this but Hicks got his start playing drums in the psychedelic rock band, The Charlatans.  This is most likely the reason why we have the Charlatans UK.  Anyway, towards the end of his tenure, Hicks moved to front the band.

But back to this record, here is the folk, country, swing, jazz combination that made Hicks and his Hot Licks famous.  Pretty good album and it includes one of his more famous songs, “I Scare Myself”.  Overall, real good effort.

For a sample,  I wanted to use the song above but after hearing “Jukie’s Ball” I was drawn to it for no other reason than they name check a Jimmy in the intro, even if it is a wooden dummy.

Great little record.  Satisfactory.

Leon McAuliffe- The Dancin’est Band Around

Here is a good ole piece of classic country music that has been sorely missed around here for the last month and a half.  It cost me $4.  When I started this blog, it would have cost me $1.

Leon McAuliffe was born right here in the great old city of Houston in 1917.  He was perhaps the greatest steel guitar player of his generation, not only paving the way for the instrument during the early days of Texas Swing country, but setting an influence which would be later picked up by blues musicians.  After playing with the Light Crust Doughboys, he joined Bob Wills band in 1936 at the age of 18.  He would play with Wills up until WWII in 1942.  Besides helping Wills compose “San Antonio Rose”, McAuliffe composed “Steel Guitar Rag” which is perhaps his legacy other than Wills’ calls of “Take It Away Leon”.

Texas State Historical Page on McAuliffe

After the war, McAuliffe formed his own band and had some success.  He also dedicated a good chunk of his life to teaching music as well as business and legal matters related to the industry.  McAuliffe would pass in 1988 at the age of 71.

This record was released long after his WWII service in 1963 on none other than Capitol Records.  Real good collection of songs that I like including “I Fall To Pieces”, “Walk On By”, and “From A Jack To A King”.  No vocals but a lot of excellent steel guitar.

For a sample, I went with “I Love You Because” because I really liked the opening slide line.

Satisfactory.

Stan Kenton- In Hi Fi

Welcome to another month of Donkey Show, which already has surpassed 2016 in terms of viewership.  When I was picking out records, I put an emphasis on ones that I have previously listened to, thus lessening my listening burden for the month.  At first I was really jazzed about this month.  After choosing the songs, I am slightly less so.  I could have diversified it a bit more.  Two brass band albums in one month is crazy.  Anyway, here is an interesting month of albums starting with this one I got for $3 which I bought for no better reason that the two tone cover.

Stan Kenton, born in Wichita, Kansas in 1911, was a pianist and band leader of in the same class as Herman, Basie and Ellington. He had several big band hits in the 1940’s.  However, to keep with trends of the time as well as to stay economically viable, Kenton paired down his band to an ensemble of 19.  This band’s swinging sound was cemented with the addition of drummer Mel Lewis in 1954.  This new incarnation had success up until the 60’s where Rock and Roll all but decimated this style of music.  Kenton, did remain active and still had a good deal of success in this period although he was somewhat curtailed by two accidental falls towards the end of his life.  Kenton died from complications from a stroke in 1979 at age 67.’

Released and recorded in 1956, this album takes some of Stan Kenton’s more popular big band songs from the 1940’s and translates with this smaller jazz ensemble.  Along with the help, from arranger Peter Rugolo, Kenton’s band tears thru these 13 tracks with a swinging horn section.  There are no strings on this record listed, nor can I remember them.  Overall, it is a pretty good little record. I think I picked about six songs of it as candidates for samples. According to some reviews, this was one of Kenton’s more popular albums as well as a good seller. 

For a sample, I was really drawn “The Concerto To End All Concertos”, being a fan of hyperbole and all .  However, upon listening, I did not feel that all concertos were on the verge of ending, as the title would suggest.  But for sake of this article here it is, along with a favorite of mine, “The Peanut Vendor”.

 

Good little album.  Satisfactory.

The Jonah Jones Quartet- A Touch of Blue

I am not sure where I got this album to be honest but I am assuming i picked this up for a dollar. The fact that it had a lot of songs that I kind of dig plus women on the front cover probably cemented this purchase.  The cool thing about last month is I wrote a lot of the posts in two sittings.  This month, I am back to writing these day by day. This also means more spelling errors. Hopefully by this weekend, I can get ahead of myself a bit.

Since I am devoting a good chunk of this month’s blog to last month’s vacation, I am pointing out that I spent this year’s stay in Amsterdam at the Grand Krasnapolsky, in Dam Square.  If I go in on package deals (flight+hotel), I usually get a good rate.  Hotel alone, it is usually pretty high.  I stayed there 4 years ago and had one of the best times in that town.  2 years later, I decided I did not want to spend the extra scratch so I stayed at a cheaper hotel, the Hotel Doria, which was less than a block away (as a side note I am unsure which came first, the hotel or the pizza joint below it).  

This year I decided to live it up again.  I am unsure if the extra amenities are worth the expense. However, as a friend pointed out, I am sure I will go to a cheaper hotel next trip and then back to the Krasnapolsky the trip after, thus repeating the cycle.

This is what an extra $500 for a hotel gets you.

During the day, I actually like going to places outside the city square and thought about switching to a hotel outside of Dam Square.  However, I still prefer being close to the Square at night.  There are a lot of bars and restaurants in that area and more importantly, there are people and I just feel safer surrounded by people than not.  But all in all, to get back to the point, The Grand Krasnapolsky is a fine hotel.  The staff reminds me of the following  line in The Grand Hotel Budapest (of course the Krasnapolsky is a much nicer hotel than the Budapest, especially after they renovated):

M. Gustave: What is a lobby boy? A lobby boy is completely invisible, yet always in sight. A lobby boy remembers what people hate. A lobby boy anticipates the client’s needs before the needs are needed. A lobby boy is, above all, discreet to a fault. Our guests know that their deepest secrets, some of which are frankly rather unseemly, will go with us to our graves.

 

Back to today’s record, Jonah Jones was a trumpet player of note, who was probably behind Louis Armstrong, in terms of popularity.  Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1909, Jones started playing jazz on riverboats.  He started his own Quartet in the 1950’s after working with bigger groups, including Stuff Smith and Cab Calloway.  Known for his crisp, swinging jazz arrangements that were easy for mass consumption, Jones put out about 20 or so records, mostly for Capitol, until his death in 2000 at age 90.

This album, released in 1962, features songs with blue in the title.  This one has all the blue classics: “Blues Skies”, “Blue Danube”, “Birth of the Blues”, “A Touch of Blue”, etc, etc.  Some of the songs feature Jones on vocal.  Some of the songs have a chorus, the “Swinginest Chorale”, according to the back cover.  Overall, the album is pretty good.  Jones plays a great horn and has decent vocals.  Some of the tunes that were instrumentals, I really wanted Jones’ vocals on but what can you do.  I like this album.  Some don’t.  Point, counterpoint, I guess.  To give further credit where it is due, Jones is backed by Teddy Brannon on piano, John Brown on bass, and George Foster on skins.

For a sample, I was torn in a couple different directions but finally decided on “Blue Skies” which features that swinginest chorale and “Blue Turning Grey Over You” which features Jones on vocals.

Decent album.  I like it.  the price was also right as well.  Satisfactory.

Mickie Finn’s- The Now Sound Of Mickie Finn’s

DSCN5097 (1008x1024)Hey, it’s Monday again.  The circle of life.  This was $3.00.  I probably got it for the Beatles tune, along with some other songs I liked.  Looking at the cover, I had a pretty good idea of what this record sounded like.  It reminded me of a resturant in Houston I went to as a kid that had peanuts.  I believe it was called Ruby Red’s. You used to be able toss your empty shells on the ground.  Then one day, they reversed policy and we stopped going.  They were kind of dicks about it. Then they closed.TVGuide-Actors-1966-Mickie Finn_1_page1

Mickie Finn’s was the brainchild of one Fred Finn, who began the Finn Empire with a night club in San Diego when he was 22 years old.  Due to the high cost of moving his musical equipment, San Diego was chosen as his location.  The theme of his club was Gay 90’s, Roaring 20’s, and Swinging 30’s.  This was in 1960.  The club was a success and led to regular performances in Las Vegas, records, and a television show in 1966. Additionally, they opened a second night club in Beverly Hills on Restaurant Row.

Fred was joined by his wife, Mickie, who sang and played banjo (additional banjo duties were also handled by Red Watson and on this album, Don Van Paulta).   The couple divorced in 1973 but Fred’s second wife, Cathy, took over the reigns.  The band continued in Vegas after the closure of the night club in 1974 .  This lasted until 1988 with several encore performances.  I am not sure what happened after this.  Some sources point to retirement after some work out of Florida after 1990 (my money would be on Branson). I also believe that both Mickie and Fred are still alive (they were both born in 1938).

Website for the Mickie Finn Show

This album I imagine was riding the brief success of their TV show.  It sounds just as it looks, full of barrelhouse piano with a mix of dixieland, ragtime, and swing. It’s what the Simpsons would call “pianie”.

DSCN5098 (1024x992)This was released in 1967.  What else can I say on a Monday? I liked “Lady Godiva”, “Cabaret”, “Sail Along Silvry Moon”, and “Red River Valley”.  Other than that, if you do not like or can not stomach old timey music, this is not for you. At the very least, the songs are short. Also, Fred can play the keys off the piano.

For a sample, I went with a track from on of my favorite musical movies, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”.  I wanted to go with the Beatles “With A Little Help Form My Friends” but it skipped and I was too lazy to clean it.mickiefinns04

Satisfactory enough.  I mean, if you can’t figure this out before you buy it, you must struggle then with the obvious.

George Siravo- Darling Please Forgive Me

DSCN2515This was a dollar.  I thought the title was kind of funny.  Maybe the idea of someone actually playing this album while begging for forgiveness.6a00e008dca1f088340120a64866fa970b-200wiGeorge Siravo (1916-2000) is best known for orchestrating Frank Sinatra’s first two major records.  By that time, Siravo was already a veteran of the big band era, having played in bands with Gene Kruppa, Glenn Miller, Jan Savitt, and Charlie Barnett.  He also worked Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone, Tony Bennett, and Doris Day.  Spaceagepop.com thought enough about him to give him a bio on their page.

Link to Spaceagepop’s bio on Siravo

I was largely unimpressed with this album when I listened to it.  For reasons why, I largely forget.  I am not, however, re-listening to this to remember why.  I don’t think it was bad per se, just a bit uninteresting.  I think this is another case of me expecting something from the cover and getting something else.  I just honestly expected more, especially from a Mercury Record.DSCN2516

I went with “It Might Be Too Late” and “Loser of Love” as samples.  I really can’t decided between the two of them.

Meh.  They should apologize to me for buying the thing.

 

The Swingle Singers- Bach’s Greatest Hits

DSCN0885This was #3.20.  It looked interesting enough grammy-best-new-artist-swingle-singers

The Swingle Singers are a vocal group formed in Paris in 1962 by Ward Swingle.   The band consisted of eight voices (two sopranos, two altos, two tenors and two basses) with typically double bass and drums as accompaniment.  The Paris version went on until 1973 when the group disbanded.  Ward Swingle at this point moved to London and formed a new version of the band.  This version would be more a cappella.  Overall the band would win five Grammys including Best New Artist of 1963.  The London incarnation is still active although Ward Swingle would pass away on January 19, 2015 at the age of 87.

Swingles Web Page

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Ward Swingle

 

This album, also known as Jazz Sebastien Bach, was their first album.  It was originally recorded as a gift for friends. It was the success of this album which lead the way to their recording career.  All the songs are from Bach.  To be quite honest, the songs all kind of sound the same after awhile.  But the album is what it is, a jazz vocal interpretation of Bach’s fugues.

DSCN0886I decided to keep today’s samples in the Key of D with Bach’s “Fugue in D Major” (from the Well Tempered Clavier 1st Book) and “Fugue in D Minor” (from the Art of the Fugue).Swingles-promo1

Meh.  Neat album at first but it does really all blend in together after a few listens.

 

 

Bert Kaempfert- That Happy Feeling

DSCN0050This was 80 cents.  It had a bunch of songs I knew.  Well, it had three songs I knew.  This post may be a bit incoherent as I did not get a lot of sleep last night.images

Born in Hamburg in 1923, Bert Kaempfert was a heavy weight in contemporary German music. As a band leader, he would go on to make 7 Gold Records.  As a composer, he wrote (or co-wrote) “Strangers in the Night”, “Moon Over Naples/ Spanish Eyes”, Danke Schoen”, “Wonderland by Night”, and “Love After Midnight”. Despite these accolades, his biggest contribution to popular music occurred in 1961, when he hired an unknown Beatles to back Tony Sheridan on My Bonnie.  It was this single that caught the attention of Brian Epstein and the rest is history. There is an excellent video below with both Bert and Tony Sheridan discussing this event.

At this point, I feel kind of bad for Bert.  On one hand, he had many musical accomplishments; yet, he kind of has a place in Music history as being nothing more than a talent scout.  On the other hand, I think Bert realized that the Beatles were doing something new. Watching the video above, he is not bitter he missed out on the Beatles.  Rather, he seems glad that they were able to succeed with another label. However, I have come to believe that he viewed this event as very insignificant among his own personal accomplishments and probably did not dwell on it at all. Regardless,  Bert would die of a stroke in 1980 at the age of 56 in Majorca, Spain.

Bert’s Web Page

This album, released by Decca in the US in 1962, would go Gold. In Europe, it was released as A Swingin’ Safari by Polydor. Either way, this album is heavily influenced by South African music, most notably the song “Wimoweh”, based on the song “Mbube”.  Both tunes would influence “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. Many songs on this album borrow from this piece as well as the South African sound.  Perhaps the most striking example of this is “A Swingin’ Safari”, which would later become a hit for Billy Vaughn.  On this, as well as other songs, Bert employed the African style of tin whistle playing, also known as Kwela.  There are a few homages to Spain on the album as well.  The end result is a great album of light orchestral pieces and horn sections reminiscent of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Furthermore, “Swingin’ Safari”, “Market Day”, and the title track would become staples for Bert.

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For a sample,  I went with two tunes that are derivative from “Wimoweh”, “A Swinging Safari” written by Bert and “Zambesi”, an African cover song.  bert_kaempfert_4_18_2

The fact that I had five songs on this album in contention of being a sample, would lead me give this a Top Rating.

Chet McIntyre- Sings and Swings

DSCN1228This was a dollar.  It was autographed.  I will buy most anything with an autograph. I am also making a mental note that I should probably forge autographs on all my records before I sell them back so I can sell them to some one more gullible than I.DSCN1230Apparently. the last owner, Chuck, was a very fine drummer and a swell guy. I wonder what drove such a swell guy to sell such a keepsake.  I wonder if there was some sad tale of woe that caused Chuck to sell this.  Or if Chuck had passed away and this was part of an estate sale.  Or perhaps, Chuck just wasn’t really the sentimental type.5898799154_b606a3651e_b

Chet McIntyre was born in 1926 in Poteet, Texas (near San Antonio).  Being proficient on trombones, saxaphones, and drums, it would be the piano that would be Chet’s calling.  He played in various jazz groups in San Antonio in the 1940’s and made a name for himself in that scene.  He would later play Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Chicago, and other lounge destinations. From what I could piece together, he may have done some recordings for RCA and also worked with his wife Peggy, I believe later in his career. He may still be alive.  He has a web page but it may not have been updated.

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Chet’s Webpage

As far as the album goes, it is a decent mix of 1940’s vocal standards.  The song selection is pretty good. They do a great job of showcasing his smooth voice as well as his skills on the ivory.  As advertised, his music both sings and swings. At times, the tempo slows and gets stuck in places but for the most part the songs are ok and probably are a good representation of Chet’s live act.

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For a sample, I went with the swinging-est song on the album “Route 66”.  From Mr Swing himself.5898248675_38895df23b

Meh.  Sorry Chet. There is a lot of talent on display here but I got what I needed out of it.  Lounge music without the lounge atmosphere is kind of lacking.