Sunday, May 18, 2014

Remi Harris - NINICK

Remi Harris
(source: YouTube)
Young talented guitarplayers are still attracted and inspired by the music, technique and tradition associated with the Gypsy genius, Django Reinhardt. The young English guitarist, Remi Harrisis a genuine example of the transition of Django's music into a contemporary context adopting influences from other fields of music as well.

Remi Harris (b 1988) is the son of a French mother and an English father, and his first name was named after the second and third notes on the major scale, "re" and "mi". At the age of seven young Harris started playing guitar, at twelve he formed his own rock band and started to gig regularly the following year. The band recorded an album in 2007 and was announced Best Classic Rock Band that year and again in 2008 by an English rock magazine. However, at the age of 20, Remi Harris' musical horizons had broadened and he left his rock band to concentrate on learning jazz guitar. He listened to Django's music, was also inspired by Wes Montgomery and in 2009 he formed his own trio to become a professional musician and soon had success with his new role as a leading Gypsy jazz guitarist of the young generation. Some months ago, Remi Harris released his debut CD as a jazzguitarist, NINICK, named so in honor of his late mother's nickname.

Remi Harris, NNINICK
(cd-cover, BearCD 53)
The CD is released by Big Bear Records and has twelve tracks. The personnel featured are, besides Remi Harris on lead guitar, Ben Salmon, rhythm guitar, and Mike Green, double bass. A couple of tracks replace bassist Green with Tom Moore, and some tracks have guest appearance by Allan Barnes (reeds) or Ben Cummings (trumpet). The repertoire has three original compositions by Harris: "Perrin", "I've Done My Bit" and the title track, "Ninick", two Django pieces: the swing waltz "Montagne Sainte-Geneviève" and "Django's Tiger" and further a couple of tunes associated with Django, "Joseph, Joseph" and "I'll See You In My Dreams". Trumpet player Ben Cummings is featured on the Chalie Parker bop anthem "Donna Lee" and reed player Allan Barnes gets his chance to show off his excellent chops on barritone sax on the George Benson tune "The Man From Toledo" and as an alto sax player on the Harry Warren standard "There'll Never Be Another You". A reading of the lyrical "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" by the trio alone is complemented by a version of Lennon & McCartney's rock classic "Lady Madonna" including modern jazzimprovisation of the catchy theme while "Somewhere..." sticks close to the melodic theme played as written. Altogeter a mixture of musical themes from different periods of time and style, but here performed in a contemporary setting that frames the remarkable and mature playing of Remi Harris.

To give you an impression of some of the included music on the CD, I'll insert a couple more of uploaded YouTube videos featuring live performance by Remi Harris. -  Here is first "Joseph, Joseph" as performed by the trio

In the next video Allan Barnes is featured guest on clarinet, Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee"

Here's another example of Remi Harris doing solo practise on his own composition, "Perrin"

Finally, to end this short presentation of Remi Harris, here's the trio's rendition of the Gypsy swing standard "I'll See You In My Dreams"


The debut CD by the young English Gypsy jazz guitarist Remi Harris, NINICK, shows the influence from both Django Reinhardt and modern jazz and rock, the repertoire of the disc provides examples of music with roots in different traditions. Every track is executed with tasteful playing by the involved musicians and frames the mature talent of Remi Harris. The CD is released by Big Bear Records and is available for purchase from Remi Harris' website.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Eddie Bush & The Biltmore Trio

Eddie Bush (1911-1969)
(photo featured at STYLO MAGIC SM 2002 cd)
Eddie Bush (1911-1969) was born in Milwaukee as son of Hawaiian parents, who were entertainers in a Hawaiian show on the mainland, and young Eddie began his own career performing with them. In 1924 the family moved to Los Angeles where Eddie was spotted playing by two local youngsters, Bill Seckler and Paul Gibbons, who invited him to join them to form a trio. In 1927, the trio had an audition with bandleader Earl Burnett and was hired as members of his orchestra that performed at the prestigious Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel Trio
L-R: Paul Gibbons (g, lead voc), Eddie Bush (steel g, falsetto voc), Bill Seckler (uke, voc)
The trio soon became a major attraction within the orchestra and had their solo spots during the orchestra's performance featuring Paul Gibbons on guitar and lead vocal, Eddie Bush on steel guitar and falsetto vocal and Bill Seckler on ukulele and vocal. The trio mainly performed and had success as a vocal harmony ensemble with Burnett's orchestra, however, when the trio made their first recordings for Okeh in April 1928 as Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel Trio, two sides were instrumentals showcasting Eddie Bush's remarkable and tasteful steel guitar playing. Bush's own "Clowin' the Frets" and the popular Tin Pan Alley tune "Hard to Get Gertie" were recorded as instrumentals on April 6th and issued on OK 41064, while two other sides recorded at the same session had vocals on "Coquette" and "Indian Craddle Song" issued on OK 41043. Here is a YouTube audio video of "Clowin' the Frets"

The other instrumental recorded on April 6th, 1928 for Okeh was "Hard to Get Gertie" inserted below from another YouTube audio video

The above two instrumentals featuring Eddie Bush on acoustic lap steel guitar were the only two instrumentals recorded during his career, however, a new CD released by Grass Skirt Records on the STYLO MAGIC label reveals more tasteful steel guitar playing on recordings with vocal harmony singing in focus among the twenty featured tracks on the CD.

CD front cover, STYLO MAGIC SM 2002
As members of Earl Burnett's Orchestra Bush, Seckler and Gibbons would be featured regualarly on Burnett's Brunswick records as a vocal trio labeled Earl Burnett's Biltmore Trio. On the shown CD are reissued ten of these sides recorded 1928-30, here's an example of the trio's sophisticated vocal arrangement of "Love Me Or Leave Me" as recorded April 1st, 1929 on Br 4336

In 1930, Eddie Bush left Burnett's band and performed for some time at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles followed by nationwide tours as a member of Henry Busse and Buddy Roger's orchestras, but in 1934 he revived the Biltmore Trio name and recorded some sides for Victor labeled as Eddie Bush' Biltmore Trio, among these sides was the popular "My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii", also featured on the CD above.
In 1934, Eddie Bush switched to electric lap steel guitar and recorded two sides for Decca in November that year, again as Eddie Bush's Biltmore Trio; one of the tunes was "The Object of My Affection" also featured on the CD. Five years later, in 1939, Eddie Bush is featured on recordings with trumpeter Mannie Klein's Hawaiians at the Bluebird label, three sides from October that year are reissued on the CD and one of them, "Maori Brown Eyes" features Bush's falsetto vocal while the two others have short statements by his steel guitar.
Tracklist with discographical info, STYLO MAGIC SM 2002
The above info is extracted from the featured notes at the STYLO MAGIC SM 2002 CD which gives the listener an outlook of recordings made by Eddie Bush at the peak of his career. The CD is released in limited numbers, only 100 copies are made available for purchase, a true collectors' item designated for people with a general interest in the Hawaiian steel guitar legacy and a special interest in the career of Eddie Bush. Sound restoration is provided by Bill Dalton at Earwig Studios that distributes the CD by contact here. The CD may also be ordered from Grass Skirt Records, here.

A new CD from Grass Skirt Records, STYLO MAGIC SM 2002, featuring 20 tracks of 78 rpm recodings by Hawaiian steel guitar ace Eddie Bush compiles examples of Bush's work with the Biltmore Trio 1928-34 and with Mannie Kleins Hawaiians 1939. The CD showcasts a repertoire of music popular at the time of recording mainly with focus on close harmony vocals but also with some interesting spots of tasteful steel guitar playing. The CD is released in a limited numbers, only 100 copies are available for purchase designated for collectors of historically important material. Recommended!

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