Monday, June 12, 2017

Some Impressions of Ètienne Comar's Film "Django" by Georg Lankester

Official film poster
The Dutch Django Reinhardt connoisseur, Georg Lankester writes about his impressions of Ètienne Comar's  film "Django" which opened the Berlin International Film Festival this year and had its premiere in The Netherlands on May 3rd.

Introduction
More than 60 years after the legendary gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt died, a film dedicated to his life during the war was launched.

The official première took place during the German film festival “Berlinale” in March of this year, but 2 months later the movie was also introduced to the Dutch audience. In the town of Wageningen, where the official capitulation of the Germans was signed at the end of WW II, the première was scheduled on May 3rd, so prior to the Dutch Memorial Day for the victims of World War II.

I had the privilege to introduce the film for a sold out cinema and described the life of the famous gypsy and his importance for the jazz world. As to the war time I referred to Dr. Schulz-Köhn, the Nazi officer who admired Django’s music and protected him as well as the Hot Club de France organizers in Paris.
Film actor Reda Kateb as Django Reinhardt
A Mixed Story
The Django movie includes a few historical facts with regard to Django’s habits while moreover several exciting band sessions with Django’s fabulous guitar playing can be seen and heard. However, Django’s endeavors to escape to Switzerland as shown in this production are not based on history but fiction.

Producer Etienne Comar on the one hand shows his audience something of the remarkable life style of the guitarist (played by Reda Kateb) and on the other hand brings into focus how the Nazis successively destroy the gypsies, whereas Django was kept out.

A Few Words on Django’s Real War Years
At the outbreak of the war, Django (who then played in England with the quintet) hurried back to Paris. The violin was replaced by a clarinet and his new Hot Club quintet was at once immensely popular. In those first war years, the formation still did some travelling and went e.g. to Belgium where recordings were made in small groups and with orchestras.
Django’s war-time Quintet with lady singer Josette Daydé, c.1941  (photo: Georg Lankester collection)
Unlike most of the people then, Django had a good life. As a celebrity he had lots of engagements and plenty of money. His latest composition, “Nuages” was such a hit that one could hear people singing this melody all over Paris. However, the influence of the German occupation became more and more noticeable and because of this ongoing threat the guitarist tried three times to escape to Switzerland, which however failed.

Back to The Film
It is certainly not my intention to give away the story. Here in a few lines some short impressions: The first part is rather spectacular with Django and his quintet in full action. The guitarist is then invited to play in Germany, but wants to withdraw from this. After more and more pressure – frightened - he and his family leave Paris. The gypsies settle near Thonon, preparing plans to escape and still occasionally make music together. Again there is pressure to perform for the local Germans, which happens with a dramatic ending. Django survives, and can be seen after the war bringing homage to all gypsy victims.


The Film Music
Finally something that people should know about the music in this film: the guitar solos (recorded in the studio) are played by Stochelo Rosenberg who deserves great compliments. He absolutely puts himself in Django’s shoes!
Stochelo Rosenberg
As to actor Reda Kateb, it took him abt. one year to show the left hand technique as Django performed when playing solos with his crippled hand. 
Reda Kateb emulating Django's playing technique
It is all by all certainly an interesting, special war film on Django’s life and that of the French gypsies. One can enjoy some hot quintet sessions which do remind us of Django’s unequalled guitar playing. Recommended, if you like a few moments of nostalgia.
The soundtrack CD of the film
The “Django” film is available for streaming at your computer, more info to be found here. - The original soundtrack of the film may be purchased here.
---
Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tico-Tico Revisited

Zequinha de Abreu

Everybody seems to know a version of Zequinha de Abreu's Tico-Tico no Fubá, which may be the most performed choro ever. The tune was composed by Zequinha de Abreu in 1917, which means the tune has been around for 100 years. It was first recorded in 1931 by Orchestra Colbaz and later made famous trough Carmen Miranda's recordings and performance of the tune in movies and on stage in the USA. However, here we'll set focus on some instrumental versions of Tico-tico. - Here is first the original piano score version as played by the Brazilian pianist Lord Vinheteiro



Tico-Tico was soon adopted by all kind of musicians both in Brazil and elsewhere. My all time favorite instrumental version of the tune was recorded by Oscar Alemán y su Quinteto de Swing in 1943



Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra had a hit with the big band version of Tico Tico in the 1940s



Also be bop alto sax giant Charlie Parker recorded a version of the tune in 1951



Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo play a guitar duet version of Tico-Tico in a live performance, an excellent example of a contemporary interpretation of the music



To end this, here is another piano version of Tico-Tico as played by New Orleans piano wizard James Booker 


---
Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Just A Little While To Stay Here

Billy Novick (clarinet), Guy Van Duser (guitar)
Enjoy some great music as played by one of my all time favorite jazz duos - clarinetist Billy Novick and guitarist Guy Van Duser. Here is first the duo's interpretation of an old New Orleans spiritual recorded earlier this year


Billy Novick and Guy Van Duser have played and performed together for more than 40 years, the mutual understanding of what swing is all about always shines through in the duo's performances 


To end this, here is the duo's excellent version of Stardust 

---
Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Chocolate Dandies - 1928 - 1940 Studio Ensembles

Don Redman
Taking their name from a show written by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, a small group led by Don Redman recorded in the late '20s as the Chocolate Dandies. Redman also used the name for some McKinney's Cotton Pickers record dates. During the early '30s the name was picked up by other musicians, notably Benny Carter, who used it for a string of recordings he made with Coleman Hawkins, among others. Carter revived the name in 1940, again with Hawkins recording some small group jazz sides. - Below I'll insert some examples of recordings made by the various Chocolate Dandies studio ensembles.

Star Dust_Okeh 8668
Don Redman directed McKinney's Cotton Pickers in four titles recorded October 13, 1928 in New York for Okeh as Chocolate Dandies. Personnel included Don Redman (as,dir), Langston Curl, John Nesbitt (tp), Claude Jones (tb), Milton Senior (as,cl), George Thomas, Prince Robinson(ts,cl), Todd Rhodes (p), Lonnie Johnson (g), Dave Wilborn (bj), Ralph Escudero (bb), Cuba Austin (dm). Besides the shown Star Dust the titles included Paducah, Birmingham Breakdown and Four Or Five Times





Benny Carter
On September 9, 1929 another combination of Chocolate Dandies recorded two titles for Okeh in New York. Personnel this time included Benny Carter (as,voc), Don Redman (as,cl,voc), Leonard Davis (tp),  Rex Stewart (co), Coleman Hawkins (ts), J.C. Higginbotham (tb), Cyrus St. Clair (tuba), Fats Waller (p), Unknown (bj), George Stafford (dm). The recorded titles were That's How I Feel Today and Six Or Seven Times 



Dee Blues_Columbia 2543-D
December 1930, Benny Carter recorded two dates with a sextet of musicians drawn from Fletcher Henderson's orchestra as Chocolate Dandies for Columbia in New York. Personnel included Benny Carter (as,cl,voc,arr), Horace Henderson (p), Bobby Stark (tp), Coleman Hawkins (ts), Jimmy Harrison (tb,voc), Benny Jackson (g) and John Kirby (sb). On December 3 was recorded only one title, Goodbye Blues, but on December 31 were recorded Cloudy Skies, Got Another Sweetie Now, Bugle Call Rag  and the shown Dee Blues 



Blue Interlude_Decca 18255 A
Benny Carter recorded another session October 10, 1933 under the name of Chocolate Dandies, this time for Okeh/Decca. Personnel included Benny Carter (as,tp,arr), Max Kaminsky (tp), Floyd O'Brien (tb), Chu Berry (ts), Teddy Wilson (p), Lawrence Lucie (g), Ernest "Bass" Hill (sb) and Sidney Catlett (dm). Recorded titles besides the shown Blue Interlude were I Never Knew, Once Upon A Time and Krazy Kapers 


Krazy Kapers_Okeh 41568


Coleman Hawkins
Benny Carter was featured with Coleman Hawkins in a session for Commodore May 25, 1940 and recorded three titles under the name of Coleman Hawkins and The Chocolate Dandies. Recorded titles included Smack!, I Surrender Dear and I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me. Participating musicians were Benny Carter (as,p), Roy Eldridge (tp), Coleman Hawkins (ts), Bernard Addison (g), John Kirby (sb), Sidney Catlett (dm)
Smack!_Commodore 533 A


---
Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Joe Pass - Solo, Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1975

Joe Pass 1975 (photo courtesy Tom Marcello Webster, Wikipedia)
Joe Pass (1929 - 1994) is generally considered to be one of the greatest jazz guitarists of the 20th century. His sophisticated style of chord-melody, with an outstanding knowledge of chord inversions and progressions, extensive use of walking basslines, and melodic counterpoint during improvisation, opened up new possibilities for the jazz guitar and had a profound influence on later guitarists.
In addition to his ensemble performances, Joe Pass is regarded as an influential solo guitarist. His solo style was marked by an advanced linear technique, sophisticated harmonic sense, counterpoint between improvised lead lines, bass figures and chords, spontaneous modulations, and transitions from fast tempos to rubato passages. He would regularly add what he called "color tones" to his compositions, to give what he believed was a more sophisticated and "funkier" sound. He would often use melodic counterpoint during improvisation, move lines and chords chromatically or play melodies by solely shifting chords, and descending augmented arpeggios at the end of phrases. - As Pass made the transition from ensemble to solo guitar performance, he preferred to abandon the pick altogether, and play fingerstyle. He found this enabled him to execute his harmonic concepts more effectively. (info excerpted from Wikipedia, here
Joe Pass at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1975 (OJC CD, 1997)
Joe Pass recorded four studio albums of solo jazz guitar with the title Virtuoso for Norman Granz's Pablo label during the 1970s, these recordings are considered essential in demonstration of Pass' solo style. However, aside from studio recordings there were also released some live recordings of Pass' solo performances by the Pablo label, among them were the shown Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1975 recorded during two concerts on July 17 and 18. The LP issue was reissued on CD 1997 by OJC and is still available for purchase, here
There are eleven tracks from the solo live performance of Joe Pass at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1975 on the CD, mostly standards but also three Pass compositions (info, here). The performance at the two concerts July 17 and 18 was also recorded on video, below I'll insert a couple of examples uploaded at You Tube. Here is first Joe Pass performing Stevie Wonder's popular tune You Are the Sunshine of My Life 


Another video fragment from the same live performance has Joe Pass playing Ray Noble's The Very Thought Of You 


To end this small presentation of a magnificent jazz guitar solo live album, I'll insert the uploaded audio video from You Tube of Joe Pass' solo performance of Django Reinhardt's Nuages - enjoy!

---
Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Friday, May 5, 2017

Bud Freeman - Some Recorded Highlights

Bud Freeman
Lawrence "Bud" Freeman (1906 - 1991)  was one of the most influential and important jazz tenor saxophonists of the Swing era. His smooth and full tenor sax style with a heavy robust swing was the only strong alternative to Coleman Hawkins' harder toned approach, until the arrival of Lester Young whom Freeman had allegedly influenced.
One of the original members of the Austin High School Gang which began in 1922, Freeman played the C-melody saxophone alongside his other band members such as Jimmy McPartland and Frank Teschemacher before switching to tenor saxophone two years later. Influenced by artists like the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and Louis Armstrong, they would begin to formulate their own style, becoming part of the emerging Chicago Style of jazz. 
In 1927, he moved to New York, where he worked as a session musician and band member with Red Nichols, Roger Wolfe Kahn, Ben Pollack, Joe Venuti, among others. He then played with Tommy Dorsey's Orchestra (1936-1938) as well as for a short time Benny Goodman's band in 1938 before forming his own band, the Summa Cum Laude Orchestra (1939-1940). Freeman joined the US Army during World War II and headed a US Army band. After the war, he returned to New York and led his own groups and kept a close tie to Eddie Condon as well as working with the likes of Buck Clayton, Ruby Braff, Vic Dickenson and Jo Jones. He was a member of the World's Greatest Jazz Band between 1969 and 1970 and on occasionally there after. In 1974, he would move to England where he made numerous recordings and performances there and in Europe. Returning to Chicago in 1980, he continued to work into his eighties. - (info excerpted from this source, here)
Below I'll focus on some recorded highlights from Bud Freeman's career as a bandleader with examples uploaded at YouTube. - In December 1928, Bud Freeman recorded his own Crazeology for OKeh in Chicago. Musicians are: Johnny Mendell (tp) Floyd O'Brien (tb) Bud Jacobson (cl,as) Bud Freeman (ts) Dave North (p) Herman Foster (bj) Johnny Mueller (b) Gene Krupa (d) Red McKenzie (vcl)



Decca 18112B_ The Buzzard
Bud Freeman And His Windy City Five recorded some titles for Decca in New York, December 1935, among them were The Buzzard. Musicians are: Bunny Berigan (tp) Bud Freeman (cl,ts) Claude Thornhill (p) Eddie Condon (g) Grachan Moncur (b) Cozy Cole (d)


The same group also recorded Tillie's Downtown Now - another example of Bud Freeman playing the clarinet


In 1938, Bud Freeman formed a trio with Jess Stacy (p) and George Wettling (d), which recorded some hot swinging sides for Commodore in New York - among the recorded titles were I Got Rhythm



Bud Freeman trio also recorded a swinging version of Exactly Like You for Commodore



The Eel_Bluebird B-10386-B
In 1939, Bud Freeman formed his Summa Cum Laude Orchestra, an octet, which recorded some titles for Bluebird, among them Freeman's signature tune The Eel. Musicians are: Max Kaminsky (tp) Brad Gowans (v-tb,arr) Pee Wee Russell (cl) Bud Freeman (ts) Dave Bowman (p) Eddie Condon (g) Clyde Newcombe (b) Danny Alvin (d)


Bud Freeman and his Famous Chicagoans 1940
In 1940, Bud Freeman led another octet, which recorded some titles for Columbia. The ensemble consisted of: Max Kaminsky (tp) Jack Teagarden (tb,vcl) Pee Wee Russell (cl) Bud Freeman (ts) Dave Bowman (p) Eddie Condon (g) Mort Stuhlmaker (b) Dave Tough (d). Among the recorded titles were At The Jazz Band Ball


After the war, Bud Freeman recorded some titles for Keynote November-December 1945 featuring various band members. December 5 was recorded Honeysuckle Rose featuring Bud Freeman (ts) Joe Sullivan (p) Peanuts Hucko (cl) Carmen Mastren (g) Sid Weiss (b) George Wettling (d)


To end this small presentation of some recorded highlights by Bud Freeman as a bandleader, I like to point you to a live recording featuring Art Hodes (p) and rhythm with Bud Freeman from the TV program Jazz Alley - the program is in two parts


And here is part two of the Jazz Alley performance

---
Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Bechet-Spanier Big Four - H.R.S. Sessions 1940

The H.R.S. Records label
The H.R.S. Records was an independent jazz label founded in 1938 as a devision of Steve Smith's Hot Record Society. Like Milt Gabler's Commodore Records, the H.R.S. Records produced new recordings with contemporary artists and reissued earlier recorded jazz from other labels, the 78 rpm discs were distributed from Smith's record shop in Midtown Manhattan, N.Y. and by mail order. The H.R.S. recorded 124 performances in 25 sessions between August 1938 and September 1947 before the company closed, some years ago Mosaic Records reissued all 25 sessions in a box-set (- unfortunately out of print)
Mosaic Box MD6-187

Sidney Bechet
At two sessions March-April 1940 clarinetist/soprano sax player Sidney Bechet  and cornetist Muggsy Spanier joined forces in some remarkable and memorable recordings for the H.R.S. Records in a quartet setting labeled Bechet-Spanier Big Four.
Muggsy Spanier
The two remaining members of the quartet were guitarist Carmen Mastren 
Carmen Mastren
and double bass player Wellman Braud 
Wellman Braud (courtesy Mosaic Images)
The first session by the Bechet-Spanier quartet was scheduled at March 28, 1940 and produced four recorded titles (see disc info below)
Excerpt of Tom Lord's Jazz Discography, vers. 9.0 (click to enlarge)
China Boy was recorded in two takes, but only mx 2776-1 was issued. Below I'll insert uploaded examples from YouTube of the recordings from the March 28 session, here is first Four Or Five Times


Next was recorded Sweet Lorraine 


Up the Lazy River by Carmichael was next


Finally, China Boy finished the March 28 session


The second session by the Bechet-Spanier Big Four was scheduled April 6, 1940 and again produced four recorded titles (see disc info below)
Excerpt of Tom Lord's Jazz Discography, vers. 9.0 (click to enlarge)
Three takes of That's A Plenty were recorded, only mx 2802-3 was originally issued. Below is inserted the music from uploaded YouTube videos of the four titles from the April 6 session, here is first If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight 


Next was recorded That's A Plenty, here's the originally issued version


H.R.S. 2003_ Squeeze Me
Squeeze Me was recorded next inclusive a tasty full chorus guitar break by Carmen Mastren


Finally, the last title recorded at the April 6 session was Sweet Sue, Just You 


The music recorded at the two sessions for H.R.S. Records by the Bechet-Spanier Big Four quartet has for a long time belonged to my favorite recordings of small band jazz. The chamberish atmosphere of the sessions does definitely not exclude hot playing by both reed and horn which mix perfectly supported by a solid rhythm provided by guitar and double bass. Classic jazz!
---
Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions