Duke Ellington — Caravan

Thanks to Secval

Last week, I played the Bunny Berigan version of Caravan.  This is Caravan by the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Not sure if this was the first original version, but if not it’s close. The idea of the song was by Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington wrote the original arrangement for his band in 1936, When Tizol moved on to the Harry James Orchestra, Tizol and James came up with another arrangement.

As I wrote last week, I remember that the first time I heard Caravan was when I was four years old. It is an enduring favorite of mine.

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Art Tatum — Louise

Thanks to gullivior

This solo version of Louise is from 1953 Disc One Cut 13 from the Art Tatum Pablo Solo Masterpieces. The song was written by Richard Whiting (music) and Leo Robin (words). Louise was made famous by Maurice Chevalier in the movie Innocents of Paris, The first sound musical from Paramount Studios (thanks to You Tube poster RReady555 for the refresher.)   Tatum gives the song a complete workout, but with a delicate touch.


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Fats on Friday — Everybody Loves My Baby

Thanks to OnlyJazzHQ

This recording of Everybody Loves My Baby is from November 6, 1940 with John Hamilton, trumpet; Charles Turner, bass; Slick Jones, drums, Al Casey, guitar; Gene Sedric, reeds; and Fats on piano and vocal. The song was written by Spencer Williams (music) in 1924 and lyrics later by Jack Palmer. The first recording of note was an early 78 soon after it was published featuring Louis Armstrong with Clarence Williams’ Blue Five. Afterwards, it has been performed and recorded enduringly throughout subsequent decades.

These small groups performing with Fats were really terrific. The regulars here include Gene Sedric, Slick Jones, and Al Casey. Al Casey takes a rare solo here, which also gives Fats an opportunity for a joke. In those days, the guitar was primarily a rhythm instrument. A friend of mine who played Rock guitar in the early 1960’s said he once played an old unamplified orchestra guitar from the 1930’s and he said the strings felt  like he was playing on a set of steak knives. He was bleeding after a short while. I guess guitarists in those days build up thick calluses. The “good old days” were sometimes pretty tough.

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The Big Shut Up Is Available


My Novella, The Big Shut Upis  available as a Kindle app from Amazon.

By the way, in case  you didn’t know, you don’t need an actual Kindle device to read my books.  Amazon offers  free reading apps for other platforms and devices.  And, I want to thank all of those who have bought my books.   For more information, please check it out here.

7-11-16:  Most of The Big Shut Up came to me in various dreams.  Dreams come from that part of the symphony of the mind that lies beyond our conscious control.   As such, I claim no special powers, but the theme of the breakdown of law and values that came from the depths of my consciousness is now coming to a head almost one year later.

Update 8-7-17: As of today, we now have over 5900 subscribers.  Thank you all very much!

Update 8-14-17 I’m still experiencing some technical problems.  The WordPress update will not install for some reason.  Whether it’s at my end, You Tube, or WordPress, I don’t know yet.  Thank you for your patience.


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Bunny Berigan — I Can’t Get Started and Caravan

Thanks to MrJohnnyNumbers

Well, opps. I knew that Bunny Berigan had a famous trumpet solo and led his Orchestra on I Can’t Get Started (With You), but much as many people talked about this record, I guess I can’t remember ever hearing it. So now I find that he did sing the lyric as well on this record when I thought it was an instrumental. You never know what you don’t know. Nevertheless, it’s a great record. Like many musicians of that era, Bunny Berigan was strongly influenced by Louis Armstrong.

So, this version of I Can’t Get Started was recorded on a Victor 78 RPM record in August 7, 1937. Vocal and all. (Exactly 80 years ago to the day that I am writing the rough draft of this post.)

As with so many musicians of that era, unfortunately, Bunny Berigan had a drinking problem that went to full blown alcoholism. He was advised by doctors to quit drinking and quit playing trumpet. Like Bix Beiderbecke, a decade earlier, Berigan could do neither; that was his life. Bunny Berigan died at age 33 of cirrhosis of the liver. His life came to a sad, young ending but he should not be forgotten.

And next, here is Bunny Berigan’s wild version of Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington’s Caravan. Caravan is one of my life long favorite tunes. I first heard the original Ellington version when I was four years old. Great 1930’s glamour photos and editing by the poster.

Thanks to ronni 1991

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Art Tatum — Blue Moon

Thanks to bluesinorbit

This solo performance of Blue Moon by Art Tatum was recorded in 1955 and is on Disc 5 cut 2 on Art Tatum’s The Complete Pablo Solo Masterpieces, Compact Edition.

Blue Moon was written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1934. The song got off to a bumpy start having been rejected from two movies, mostly because of weak lyrics. Finally, it was used in the movie Manhattan Melodrama with a new lyric…and, as they used to say in those days, the rest was history. The first big record hit was sung by Connee Boswell on Brunswick Records. From then, it was a hit song numerous times in the following decades with a Who’s Who of artists.

Tatum works his intricate magic without losing the warmth of the tune.



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Fats on Friday — Squeeze Me

Thanks Dominik Feri

Squeeze Me was recorded by Fats Waller in September, 1939. The personnel included John Hamilton, trumpet; John Smith; guitar; Cedric Wallace, bass; Slick Jones, drums; Gene Sedric, clarinet and tenor sax; and Fats on piano and vocal. Fats Waller composed the music way back in 1925. Clarence Williams, the publisher took credit for the lyric, but Andy Razaf claimed that he wrote the lyric. I’m inclined to belief Razaf, wrote the lyric for Squeeze Me as he was a most talented lyricist on many of Waller’s other tunes. Williams had a bad reputation among musicians. Andy Razaf had a fascinating life story. Fats recorded it 14 years after he wrote it, after many others had hit records of it. It’s hard to exaggerate how talented Fats Waller was in so many areas.

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Glen Campbell R.I.P.


thanks to Mark Moscatello

That was Glen Campbell’s early hit, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, one of my Glen Campbell favorites. I had a little change in plans. Ordinarily I leave rock music and other modern music to others of my generation. While I grew up with rock music as well, one of my earliest childhood pleasures was finding and playing great old records.

I had other plans for today, but I want to remember Glen Campbell as the extraordinary talent that he was and should be remembered. He died this past week from Alzheimer’s disease, which ended his career in 2011. He was a studio musician and an extraordinary guitar player. He had rock and roll hits, country hits. he filled in for other musicians in early years.

Photo Credit:  Kurt Markus, Glen Campbell Forums.

I also discovered that we were both fans of a another great musician, from way back when. Like many others, I remember when I first heard Django Reinhardt. I couldn’t believe my ears. Glen Campbell was also a Django fan. He said Django Reinhardt was the greatest guitarist ever. Above is a painting of Django hanging wall next to his piano behind Glen Campbell and his wife Kim. So, in memory of Glen Campbell, R.I.P. let’s also hear Django with his Minor Swing.

Thanks to hann

When Django and Stephane Grappelli began their careers, they were told to forget it. Guitars and fiddles weren’t jazz. Jazz was played on woodwinds and horns, according to the French record producers.   Eventually, they got a recording contract.  They achieved world wide fame.  Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins, among others, recorded with them and claimed that Django and Stephane’s group were some real “hep cats.”

Meanwhile, Don Brown, my mentor and source for old jazz records, was at the same time sweeping out the store in a western Illinois record store and was paid in records the store owner couldn’t sell. Among the “Hillibilly” records, Don found were Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli records. Hillbilly records! These were jazz. But the record store owner couldn’t sell jazz records either, so Don kept them and his mouth shut. People often times pass up the gold  looking for diamonds.

Glen Campbell played and sang wherever there was work to be had. He was a great musician whose music also transcended the labels in the record store bins and the tight radio station play lists. He was an extraordinary talent and he has been missed in this past decade.  Glen Campbell, R.I.P.

Update:  Changes in edits and credits.  Fixed.


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Lester Young — I Can’t Get Started— plus Ella Fitzgerald’s version

Thanks to Lennart Lank aka helluvagun

The Lester Young Trio recorded I Can’t Get Started (With You) in Los Angeles , on July 15 1942.

The Trio, consisted of Lester Young, Tenor Sax; Nat Cole, piano; Red Callender, Bass. Lester Young was for many years lead tenor sax player for the Count Basie Band. He also added  much to the Billie Holiday recording sessions organized by Teddy Wilson, in the late 1930’s. Lester Young was famous as a “hipster” long before the 1950’s Beatnik fad.

I Can’t Get Started (With You) written 1936 Vernon Duke, music, Ira Gershwin, lyric. Originally written for Zeigfeld Follies of 1936, first sung by Bob Hope. The most famous instrumental version was by Bunny Berigan.  Best selling  vocal versions were sung by Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday.

But, I haven’t played enough of Ella Fitzgerald so here’s her vocal version with Nelson Riddle:

Thanks to Gustavo Morales Battaglini for the You Tube


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Art Tatum — S’Wonderful

Thanks to Okimusic

S’Wonderful  was written in 1927 by George (music) and Ira (lyric) Gershwin and afterwards became a widely performed standard. This recording was made in the mid-1950’s and is available on disc 1 cut 7 on the Pablo Art Tatum Group Masterpieces Set. The personnel included Benny Carter, Alto Sax; Louis Bellson, Drums; and Art Tatum, Piano. This performance had very tight ensemble and solo work; no “clams” or “train wrecks,” (musicians jargon for flubs and disasters.) Outstanding musicians.

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