Eubie Blake on the Fourth of July: The Stars and Stripes Forever

This, The Stars and Stripes Forever, is my favorite piece of patriotic and military music It was written by that musical genius John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) leader of the Marine Corps Band. Sousa wrote many other great marches, but this is my favorite. A great performance of a great song  to hear on the Fourth of July, American Independence Day.

At the same time Eubie Blake (1887-1983) was appearing on the Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson, I saw him play live at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, California. He was 93 years old and still vigorous. In addition to his own compositions, he played an overture from a Wagner Opera solo on the Piano. An incredible feat for a man of any age.

His greatest claim to fame was his collaboration with Noble Sissle in writing the music for the musical Shuffle Along, These included songs that became standards such as I’m Just Wild About Harry and Memories of You.

It was such a thrill and privilege to see and hear this great man born so long ago in a live performance.  He was a contemporary of Scott Joplin,  Composer of the Maple Leaf Rag, the man most responsible for ragtime music.  Joplin died young and unfortunately for us before the age of phonograph records.  I have the LP from which the picture of Eubie Blake was used to make this You Tube, titled The Eighty-Six Years of Eubie Blake.  It was a  Grammy winner and a wonderful LP. I read in  the liner notes that when Eubie put the tips of his thumbs together and spread his fingers apart across the keys, he could reach from the bottom key on the piano to middle C. His fingers were 11 inches long.  I shook hands with him and I can verify that it’s true.   It was a very happy evening and a wonderful memory.

Happy Fourth of July.

Thanks to 525wireman for the You Tube.

Posted in Dick Zimmerman, Old Music Made New | Comments Off on Eubie Blake on the Fourth of July: The Stars and Stripes Forever

Cliff Edwards — I’ll See You In My Dreams

Thanks to Christopher Wham for the You Tube

Now, for something entirely different.  I’ll See You In My Dreams is one of my all time favorite songs. It was written by Isham Jones and Gus Kahn. This recording of it was made February 5, 1930.

Cliff Edwards, who was better known as “Ukulele Ike“, had a long career in show business. He left school at 14 in 1909, started out singing in saloons. He accompanied himself on ukulele because it was the only instrument he could afford. His career didn’t take off until 1918. He recorded his first record in 1919. By the mid 1920’s, his records were selling well, and he was given credit for starting the ukelele craze. People bought and took up the ukelele and the music publishers published sheet music with ukulele chords. His movie career started at MGM in 1929 with the early sound movies. Later, he became a voice actor in Disney cartoons. His most famous role was as Jiminy Cricket in the 1940 Disney movie Pinocchio. In that movie, Edwards sang When You Wish Upon A Star, which was his most lasting legacy.

Like many in show business, the long struggle to survive was followed by the “over night” sensation, which led to all kinds of problems. Edwards suffered from alcoholism, drug addiction, divorces, bankruptcy, and finally poor health. Walt Disney and the Disney Corp. were his benefactors in old age.

At a concert in memory of the Late Beatle, George Harrison. after his death, Joe Brown sang I’ll See You In My Dreams note for note exactly like the Cliff Edwards version. An excellent tribute to both men.

Posted in Chuck Cecil, Old Music Made New | Comments Off on Cliff Edwards — I’ll See You In My Dreams

Art Tatum — Please Be Kind

Thanks to Okmusix for the You Tube

Art Tatum on Please Be Kind is joined by Lionel Hampton, vibes; and Jo Jones, on Drums. This is from the Complete Art Tatum Pablo Group Masterpieces Disc 3 Cut 11. I think I mentioned before that Hampton was in Los Angeles as part of the cast in the biopic The Benny Goodman Story starring Steve Allen and Donna Reed. Hampton reenacted his role playing vibes in Benny Goodman’s quartets along with Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa who also reenacted their roles. Those small group recordings made with Benny Goodman were among the best Jazz records of the late 1930’s. Hampton played himself in the movie and made these recordings with Tatum as well. Tatum, Hampton, and Jones make an equally great group on this record.  Even on a laid back tune such as Please Be Kind, Art Tatum is the sly virtuoso.

Posted in Chuck Cecil, Don Brown Jazz Man Record Shop and Cobweb Corner, Old Music Made New | Comments Off on Art Tatum — Please Be Kind

Fats on Friday — I Wish I Were Twins

Thanks to OnlyJazzHQ for the YouTube

I Wish I Were Twins was written music by Joseph Meyer lyric by Eddie De Lange in 1934. Fats recorded it soon afterwards. Personnel on the record included Herman Autrey, Trumpet; Ben Whittet, clarinet and alto sax; Al Casey, guitar; Bill Taylor, bass; Harry Dial, drums; and Fats, vocal and piano.

Fats changes the order of play on this record. The song is kicked off by Al Casey, Herman Autrey on trumpet takes a great first solo, then comes Ben Whittet on clarinet, then Fats does the vocal, and then the piano solo. The success of this record is measured by the people who followed it with their versions. This was a great record and it was also the kick off of a great year for Fats Waller. Fats could sing, he could play piano, he could compose songs, he was a great comedian, and he did this all at the same time.  What more could you ask for?

Posted in Chuck Cecil, Don Brown Jazz Man Record Shop and Cobweb Corner, Old Music Made New | Comments Off on Fats on Friday — I Wish I Were Twins

Albert Ammons – Boogie Woogie Stomp

Thanks to Only Jazz and Blues for the You Tube

That was Boogie Woogie Stomp by Albert Ammons. I have no information about that record except that the tune was written by Albert Ammons. This was the best version I could find. No credit for the clarinet player or trumpet player……except….Benny Goodman had a history of sitting in on record sessions for artistic rather than commercial reasons and without credit. This would have probably been in the late 30’s when Goodman was still with Victor. The trumpet player might have been Harry James. In the late 1930’s, Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis, and Pete Johnson had all moved to New York and were playing at the Cafe Society Club. By that time, Ammons and Lewis no longer had to drive Taxi Cabs.

I have a personal anecdote about Albert Ammons. I had dropped in to Don Brown’s Jazz Man Record Shop on my regular monthly visit. When I got there, he was opening his mail and he said, “Well, look at this!”

He handed me the letter he had just opened. It was from Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones. Watts had listed three Albert Ammons original 78 RPM records he wanted to buy. Of course, that was many years ago and I have forgotten which ones Charlie Watts was looking to buy. Don said as I handed him back the letter, “If he gets hold of any one of those records, it’ll be a matter of sheer luck.”


Posted in Chuck Cecil, Don Brown Jazz Man Record Shop and Cobweb Corner, Old Music Made New | Comments Off on Albert Ammons – Boogie Woogie Stomp

Art Tatum – Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Thanks to bluesinorbit for the You Tube

Somewhere Over the Rainbow was composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg. The American Film Institute ranked it as the greatest movie song of all time. Here, Art Tatum explores the harmonic variations and possibilities of the song as classic composers drew themes from folk dances. This recording is from Disc 1 cut 5 from the Art Tatum Complete Pablo Solo Masterpieces Compact Disc Edition.

Thanks to IHEARTTHEWIZARDOFOZ for the You Tube clip

That was Judy Garland singing the song in an out take from the movie The Wizard of Oz, 1939. Judy Garland was an amazingly talented child. She won the Academy Juvenile Oscar for her performance. In what some would call the golden age of Hollywood, The Wizard of Oz was among the most golden in many ways. It was ranked as Number 6 in 100 years and 100 movies. It has stood the test of time very well.

The movie was based on a fairy tale novel by L. Frank Baum (1856 -1919).  Originally it was  titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and published in 1901. By 1956, five million copies of it had been printed.


Posted in Chuck Cecil, Old Music Made New | Comments Off on Art Tatum – Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Fats on Friday — Organ solo — Soothin’ Syrup Stomp

Thanks to ComptonLodgeStudios for the You Tube

Soothin’ Syrup Stomp  was recorded January 14, 1927.  According to Maurice Waller, Fats had begun recording on the Camden pipe organ in late 1926, and throughout 1927. He only had two recording sessions of any kind in 1928, both on piano. The last organ session I could find was September 1929. By then, he was also recording fewer piano solos. Instead, he had arrived at the formula he would use throughout the 1930’s with his Rhythm group: start off with a piano solo, then do a vocal, clown with the lyric, then solos for the sidemen, then take it home.

Several Dutch Jazz Fans wrote an article in their magazine Doctor Jazz. Here is a translation of the article from the original Dutch, including some historic pictures. Victor had to abandon the studio in the 1935 because of the construction of a subway. Also, the article discusses the difficulties of recording the organ with the piano and other instruments. It’s interesting the fate of this historic building with its organ was of little knowledge or interest to officials in Camden, New Jersey. When Fats had a revival here in the U.S. in the 1970’s, these organ records were not reissued. The LP I have of these was issued by French RCA and imported by Don Brown.

Posted in Don Brown Jazz Man Record Shop and Cobweb Corner, Old Music Made New | Comments Off on Fats on Friday — Organ solo — Soothin’ Syrup Stomp

Pete Johnson — Death Ray Boogie and Dive Bomber Boogie

Thanks to Hisashi Toshima for the YouTube

Death Ray Boogie was written by Pete Johnson and Dave Deshers (?) and recorded  May 8, 1941. Pete Johnson was on piano with Al Hall, Bass; and A.G. Godley, Drums. Pete Johnson was originally from Kansas City, but he later became part of the South Chicago club scene. This was not then a lucrative musical genre. All or the important figures in this music had outside jobs. Jimmy Yancey, as noted before, was a groundskeeper for the Chicago White Sox baseball team. Meade Lux Lewis drove Taxi Cab during the 1930’s. Pete Johnson washed cars for a funeral home. .

Although Boogie Woogie recording dates go back as far as 1924, we don’t really know how far back it really goes. My guess is that it’s origins were in locomotive train travel. Although there are a variety of bass patterns in this music, they each capture the feel of riding on or in an old time railroad car. Boogie Woogie remained a marginal music until John Hammond heard them and booked Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, and Albert Ammons to play trios in Hammond’s Spirituals to Swing Jazz Concert at Carnegie Hall, in 1938. Boogie Woogie became a fad after that concert and into the 1940’s.  Tommy Dorsey used Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, and Albert Ammons as an Intermission Act on tours and Radio performances.

Boogie Woogie was the foundation on which later Rhythm and Blues music and 1950’s Rock and Roll was built. Chuck Berry in particular used these rhythm patterns in his music.

Next, here is Dive Bomber Boogie Woogie, recorded in New York City, on Feb 17, 1944. K. Holden is listed as the composer:

Thanks to Jake BALDHEAD

Dive Bomber  Boogie Woogie with its war theme was recorded and released in the middle of World War II.

Posted in Chuck Cecil, Don Brown Jazz Man Record Shop and Cobweb Corner, Old Music Made New | Comments Off on Pete Johnson — Death Ray Boogie and Dive Bomber Boogie

Art Tatum Trio — I’ll Never Be The Same

Thanks to MrMusicismagic for the YouTube

I’ll Never Be The Same was recorded in August, 1955, by Art Tatum, piano; Lionel Hampton, vibes; and Buddy Rich, drums. It was released on Disc 2, cut 12 on Norman Granz’s The Art Tatum Group Masterpieces by Pablo Records and in other collections as well. The interplay between Tatum, Hampton, and Rich on this record is one of the all time tasty performances in jazz.

Posted in Old Music Made New | Comments Off on Art Tatum Trio — I’ll Never Be The Same

Fats on Friday — I’ll Dance At Your Wedding

Thanks to OnlyJazzHQ for the You Tube

I’ll Dance At Your Wedding was recorded by Fats Waller and Rhythm on December 7, 1938. Rhythm consisted on this date of Herman Autrey, trumpet; Al Casey, guitar; Cedric Wallace, bass; Slick Jones, drums; Gene Sedric;, reeds; and Fats, vocal and piano.

Oh, my my my, as Fats would say. He could say more with a 52 second piano solo than many musicians could say in a half hour. His back up was incredible considering there was no rehearsal nor a take two. Meanwhile, he sings and jokes with the lyric. It’s a credit to his sidemen that they could stay with him.

The composer-lyricist for this version of I’ll Dance At Your Wedding was Joe Davis. I had to search for a copy of the original 78 rpm record label to find that. Another song titled I’ll Dance At Your Wedding was written in 1947 by Buddy Clark, and was sung by him in 1948. Then, as was usual in those days with a hit record, it was widely covered by other artists afterwards. Of course, Fats died in 1943. There will never be another Fats Waller.

Posted in Chuck Cecil, Don Brown Jazz Man Record Shop and Cobweb Corner, Old Music Made New, Walter Gabrielson | Comments Off on Fats on Friday — I’ll Dance At Your Wedding