Top 50 JAzz Blog

Monday, July 24, 2017

As we so often find with jazz performers, vocalist Helen Merrill started young-age 14 and from the beginning, she managed to be both mellow and edgy. On this 7.20.17 edition of the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour on WZBC, apart from her jazz work, you will hear a few recordings made to try to boost her profile outside jazz.

LISTEN HERE

PLAYLIST
Earl Hines w. Helen Merrill "A Cigarette For Company" 1942 on D'Oro

"Don't explain" "What's New" You'd Be so Nice to Come Home to" "Falling in Love With Love" from "Helen Merrill Featuring Clifford Brown" (Jazz, 1954) on EmArcy 

"Dream of You" "Summertime" "Let Me Love You"  "I'm Just a Lucky so-And-So" Helen Merrill  arr. by Gil Evans, from Collaboration 1956 on Emarcy

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"  Helen Merrill from "American Country Songs" 1959 on Atco

"These foolish things" Helen Merrill from "Helen Merrill Sings Italian Songs" 1960 on RCA Italiana

"Smog" from "Helen Merrill Sings Italian Songs" 1960 on RCA Italiana

"Cannatella" Helen Merrill from "The Artistry of Helen Merrill"  1965) on Mainstream

"Baltimore Oriole" Helen Merrill from "The Feeling Is Mutual" 1965 on Milestone

"What is this Thing Called Love" Helen Merrill from "The Feeling Is Mutual" 1965 on Milestone

"A Man and A Woman" Helen Merrill  from "Bossa Nova in Tokyo"  1967 on Victor

"Norwegian Wood" Helen Merrill  from "Helen Merrill Sings the Beatles" 1970 on EMI

"Vera Cruz" Helen Merrill  from "Casa Forte"1980 on Mercury

"Natural Sounds"Helen Merrill  from "Casa Forte" 1980 on Mercury

 "When Lights Are Low" "And Still She Is With Me" "Music Makers" from "Music Makers" 1986 on owl

"Just Friends" Helen Merrill w. Stan Getz  from "Helen Merrill w. Stan Getz"1989 on Emarcy

"Out of This World"  Helen Merrill from "Clear Out Of This World" 1992 on Emarcy

"I'll Remember April"  "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" Helen Merrill  from "Brownie: Homage to Clifford Brown"  1994 on Verve

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

In Walked Fud

"His final decade was a difficult one, and a pernicious addiction to alcohol ultimately took him out ahead of schedule. Until shortly before his death on March 25, 1957, Fud Livingston could periodically be seen playing piano at the back of various bars in certain sections of New York City." Notes for the Jazz Oracle Collection.


You're looking a little peaked today, Fud.

You too, Bobby... Set one up for me, ok? And, ah, put it on the cuff, would ya?

Hey, just cause you ain't been in here in a while don't mean you don't owe me for the last 3 times.

I know...

Excuse me, gents. That's alright, I'll take care of it.

I appreciate it, buddy.

That's alright. Still a couple people around here who know who you are.

I'll get the shakes out and then we'll see what happens...One more oughta do it. Bobby?

[Positive nod]

[four stools down] Hey, buddy, you telling me this rum dum is somebody.

When the world was young.

That's good. When the world was young-and gay. I'll say.

I'm good to go now. Hey, mister. You wanna hear a tune? 

Yea.


You know my song "Feelin' No Pain?"

You wrote that? 

[4 stools down] Yea, that's the rum dum's national anthem. Ironic, ain't it?

Hey, you wise-acre half-wit! I played with Bix Beiderbecke! You understand me? What that means? I played with everybody-Miller, Goodman, Miff, Nichols!

Ok, Fud, calm down. i gotta admit. He knows how to play the damn piano.

Better'n that shit they call music now.

Fud, you were a respected guy. In demand.

Damn right. They needed a nice arrangement, they called Fud.

So, I gotta ask-what the hell happened? 

I dunno, Bobby. Bix died, some of the guys changed their style. I got old. Jazz got old.

[Fud wrestles music from a beat-up piano. He drops a few notes, but a spark of genius survives, or so I like to think].

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mary Lou Williams-Pt. 2

This edition of the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour, WZBC, takes us from 1946 to 1963 in the recording career of Mary Lou Williams. On this show, you will hear MLW move from swing into bop and into the beginning of her specifically spiritual musical phase (although she also keeps the funky side going).

LISTEN HERE

PLAYLIST

How High The Moon -MLW solo,  Folkways, 1946

Fifth Dimension, Boogie Misterioso, Conversation,
MARY LOU WILLIAMS GIRL STARS Majorie Hyams, vib; Mary Lou Williams, p; Mary Osborne, g; June M. Rotenberg, b; Rose Gotesman, dr Victor, 1946

All God's Children Got Rhythm, Humoresque, Waltz Boogie
,  MARY LOU WILLIAMS DUO/TRIO Mary Lou Williams, p; June M. Rotenberg, b; Bridget O'Flynn, dr. Camden Records, 1946

Mary Lou, Kool, MARY LOU WILLIAMS AND HER ORCHESTRA Kenny Dorham, tp; Mary Lou Williams, p; John H. Smith Jr, g; Grachan Moncur, b. Folkways, 1947

Lonely Moments, Whistle Blues, MILTON ORENT-FRANK ROTH ORCHESTRA
Irving Kustin, Leon Schwartz, Edward Sadowski, tps; Martin Glaser, Allan Feldman, Maurice Lopez, Orlando Wright, ts; Frank Roth, p; Milton Orent, b + arr; Jack Parker, dr; Mary Lou Williams, ld, arr,  Selmer Records, 1947

Benny's Bop, Bye Bye Blues Bop, Benny Goodman Sextet Benny Goodman, cl; Wardell Gray, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p; Billy Bauer, g; Clyde Lombardi, b; Mel Zelnick, dr; V-Disc Hep, 1948

Tisherome, Shorty Boo, MARY LOU WILLIAMS AND HER ORCHESTRA Idrees Sulieman, tp; Martin Glaser, b-cl; Allan Feldman, fl, cl + as; Mary Lou Williams, p; Mundell Lowe, g; George Duvivier, b; Denzil Best, dr; Kenny Hagood, voc on. King, 1949

Willow Weep for Me, Bye Bye Blues,  MARY LOU WILLIAMS WITH HER TRIO Mary Lou Williams, p + org (1); Mundell Lowe, g; George Duvivier, b; Denzil Best, dr. King, 1950

You're The Cream In My Coffee, From this Moment On MARY LOU WILLIAMS TRIO Mary Lou Williams, p; Carl Pruitt,b; Bill Clark, dr. Atlantic, 1951

Lullaby of the Leaves, Moonglow, MARY LOU WILLIAMS - DON BYAS GROUP Don Byas, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p; Buddy Banks, b; Gérard Pochonet, dr. Vogue, 1953

Nancy is in Love with the Colonel, MARY LOU WILLIAMS AND HER ORCHESTRA Nelson Williams, tp; Ray Lawrence, tb; Mary Lou Williams, p; Buddy Banks, b; Kansas Fields, dr.  Club Francais du Disque, 1954

Just One of Those Things, MARY LOU WILLIAMS QUARTET Mary Lou Williams, p; Lennie Bush, b; Tony Kinsey, dr; Tony Scott, bongos. London, Swing, 1954

Carioca,  Zodiac Suite
, THE DIZZY GILLESPIE ORCHESTRA AT NEWPORT 1957 Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Emmet Perry, Carl Warwick, Talib Daawud, tps; Melba Liston, Al Grey, Ray Connor, tbs; Ernie Henry, Jimmy Powell, as; Billy Mitchell, Benny Golson, ts; Pee Wee Moore, bs; Mary Lou Williams, p; Paul West, b; Charlie Persip, dr; Austin Cromer, voc. Verve, 1957

Chunk-A-Lunk Jug (Parts 1 & 2),  MARY LOU WILLIAMS TRIO p; Bruce Lawrence, b; Jack Parker, dr., Sue Records 1959

My Blue Heaven, A Fungus A Mungus, St Martin De Porres
, MARY LOU WILLIAMS: BLACK CHRIST OF THE ANDES Budd Johnson, ts, bcl; Mary Lou Williams, p; Grant Green, g; Larry Gales, b; Percy Price, dr; Jimmy Mitchell, voc; Melba Liston, scor + cond; on*. / George Gordon Singers (voc) Mary Records, 1963

Friday, July 7, 2017

Movies and the Tortured Trumpeter

I recently posted about the generally abject way in which actors mime playing the trumpet on screen. But separate and apart from that, there are the parts themselves. I sat down with a Physician's Desk Reference and a copy of the The Road to Milltown and, after viewing and or reading the plots of these films, I emerged with a precise formula to describe the subtle psychological subtext of these parts: JAZZ TRUMPET=TROUBLE.


This is not true in the films I cited that use trumpet playing only to add flash or to signal that a character has hidden depths, like Kurt Russell in Swing Shift, or Billy Crystal in Memories of Me.


 




And, there are other films where the lead character is a jazz trumpet player and is not particularly tortured, but that can be explained. Take, for example, Jack Webb in Pete Kelly's Blues: does Jack Webb ever play anything other than his usual low-affect persona? No. Red Nichols and His Five Pennies with Danny Kaye: Duh, its a Danny Kaye movie. Or, Richard Gere in-Cotton Club: He's sane, but he survives by dropping the horn and becoming an actor.

As for the rest, we are dealing with trumpet players with some serious issues:
  
Jack Lord in Play It Glissando, Route 66: Sociopathic
Denzel Washington in Mo Better Blues: Flawed; arguably, deeply so. 
Jack Klugman in a Twilight Zone episode A Passage for Trumpet: Deeply troubled; artificially redeemed (happens a lot with trumpet players in the movies).
Mickey Rourke in Passion Play: well, type- casting.
Dingo, with Colin Friels: enmeshed in a world of self-deception, abetted by the film.
Val Kilmer in The Salton Sea: Messed up, but the film finds a way to make him heroic. More artificial redemption. 
Miles Ahead Don Cheadle: Deeply troubled/ drug issues.
In Bird, Michael Zelniker does Red Rodney: Deeply troubled/junkie
Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker in Born to be Blue Deeply troubled/junkie
Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity: tortured in a Monty Clift way
Kirk Douglas in Young Man With a Horn: tortured by the "lost note."
In A Man Called Adam, Sammy Davis Jr.: Deeply troubled on many fronts.  
Burt Young in Uncle Joe Shannon. Deeply troubled; artificially redeemed.
Bryant Weeks in Bix: An Interpretation of a Legend: You got it-deeply troubled.



In Blues in the Night, Jack Carson: Relatively sane, but haunted by the idea that he's not playing "genuine" jazz.
Robert Wagner in All the Fine Young Cannibals: Troubled preacher's son.



There are bad boys and anti-heroes of all sorts in American film, but is there a group that has served this particular cultural niche so consistently? As a trumpet player myself, I'm not sure I say this with pride or humility: We have a lot to live up to. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Mary Lou WIlliams-Pt 1

The great pianist-composer-arranger-bandleader Mary Lou Williams is featured on this edition of the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour. On this show, you will hear recordings from 1927-1945.
LISTEN HERE

PLAYLIST

Midnight Stomp,The Bumps Jeanette James and her Synco Jazzers Paramount, 1927

Goose Grease John WIlliams' Synco Jazzers- Henry McCord, tp; Bradley Bullett, tb; John Williams, as + bass-sax; Mary Leo Burley(misspelled) (Mary Lou Williams), p; Joe Williams, banjo; Robert Price, dr. Chicago,  Paramount, 1927

Cloudy-and Casey Jones Special-Andy Kirk and His 12 Clouds of Joy- Claude FIddler WIlliams-violin  Gene Prince, Harry Lawson, tp; Allen Durham, tb; John Harrington, cl + as; John Williams, as + bar; Lawrence Freeman, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p +arr; William Dirvin, bj + g; Andy Kirk, bassax + ldr; Edward McNeil, dr; Harry Lawson, Billy Massey voc. Brunswick, 1929

Somepin' Slow and Low and Lotta Sax Appeal- John Williams and His Memphis Stompers- Gene Prince, Harry Lawson, tp; Allen Durham, tb; John Harrington, cl + as; John Williams, as + bs; Lawrence Freeman, ts; Claude Williams, viol; Mary Lou Williams, p + arr; William Dirvin, bj + g; Andy Kirk, b, bass-s + ld; Kansas City, 1929 Vocalion

Night Life solo MLW Chicago, 1930  Brunswick

Loose Ankles-Snag It- Marys Idea
-Andy Kirk and His 12 Clouds of Joy- Edgar Battle, Harry Lawson, tp; Allen Durham, tb; John Harrington, cl + as; John Williams, as + bar; Lawrence Freeman, ts; Claude Williams, vln; Mary Lou Williams, p +arr; William Dirvin, bj + g; Andy Kirk, bassax + ldr; Edward McNeil, dr; Harry Lawson, Billy Massey voc. Brunswick 1930

Getting off a Mess-Andy Kirk and His Seven Little Clouds of Joy-Harry Lawson, tp; Allen Durham, tb; John Harrington, as + cl; + same rhythm section only 1930 Brunswick

I Need Lovin', There's Rhythm in the River,
BLANCHE CALLOWAY AND HER JOY BOYS Harry Lawson, Edgar Battle, tps; Clarence Smith, tp + viol; Floyd Brady, tb; John Harrington, cl + as; John Williams, as; Lawrence Freeman, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p; Bill Dirvin, bj; Andy Kirk, b; Ben Thipgen, dr; Blanche Calloway, Billy Massey, voc. Victor 1931

Walkin' and Swingin, Moten swing, All the Jive Is Gone -Andy Kirk and His 12 Clouds of Joy- Harry Lawson, Paul King, tp; Eart Thompson, tp +  Ted Donnelly, Henry Wells, tb; John Harrington, cl + as + bar; John Williams, as + bar; Dick Wilson, ts; Claude Williams, vln; Mary Lou Williams, p + arr; Ted Robinson, g; Booker Collins, b; Ed Thigpen, dr + voc; Pha Terrell, voc. New York,  1936 Decca

Corny rhythm, Swingin' For Joy, Clean Pickin' 1936- Mary Lou Williams Trio, p; Booker Collins, b; Ben Thipgen, dr. Decca

Roll Em, Camel Hop 1937-  Benny Goodman, and His Orchestra- Benny Goodman, cl; Ziggy Elman, Gordon Griffin, Harry James, tp; Red Ballard, Murray McEachern, tb; Hymie Schertzer, George Koenig, as; Vido Musso, Arthur Rollini, ts; Jess Stacy, p; Allan Reuss, g; Harry Goodman, b; Gene Krupa, dr; Mary Lou Williams, arr. Victor

A Mellow Bit of Rhythm, Why Can't We Do It Again?
-Andy Kirk and His 12 Clouds of Joy-see above personnel. Decca, 1937

Arkansas Blues, You don't know my mind-Mildred Bailey, and he Oxford Greys Mary Lou Williams, p; Floyd Smith, g; John Williams, b; Eddie Dougherty, dr; Mildred Bailey, voc. Vocalion. 1939

Zonky- Mary Lou Williams Blues, SIx Men and A Girl- Earl Thompson, tp; Earl Buddy Miller, cl + as; Dick Wilson, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p; Floyd Smith, g; Booker Collins, b; Ben Thipgen, dr. Varsity 1940

Harmony Blues, Baby Dear  Mary Lou WIlliams and Her Kansas City Seven
Harold Baker, tp; Ted Donelly, tb; Edward Inge, cl; Dick Wilson, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p; Booker Collins, b; Ben Thipgen, dr Decca, 1940

Cuban Boogie Woogie, Ring Dem Bells  Andy Kirk and His 12 Clouds of Joy-Clarence Trice, Harold Baker, Harry Lawoon, tp; Ted Donnelly, tb; Henry Wells, tb + voc; John Harrington, cl +as + bar; Rudy Powell cl + as; Dick Wilson, Edward Inge cl + ts; Mary Lou Williams, p +arr; Floyd Smith, g + el-g; Booker Collins, b; Ben Thigpen, dr; June Richmond, Pha Terrell voc. Decca. 1941

Yesterdays, Blue Skies M.L. WIlliams solo 1944-Folkways

Marcheta, Taurus Mood  Mary Lou Williams Trio- Mary Lou Williams, p; Al Lucas, b; Jack Parker, dr NYC, March 7, 1944 Folkways

Roll 'Em, Yesterday's Kisses  Mary Lou Williams and Her Chosen Five Frank Newton, tp; Vic Dickenson, tb; Ed Hall, cl;Al Lucas, b; Jack Parker, dr. NYC, 1944 folkways

Blue Skies- MLW arr. for Duke Ellington. Solos by Lawrence Brown Rex Stewart, Al Sears, Hodges, Hurricane Restaurant, NYC May 21, 1944 Musica Jazz

This and That Mary Lou Williams and He Orchestra- Bill Coleman, tp; Mary Lou Williams, p; Eddie Robinson, b; added: Claude Green (1), cl; Joe Evans (2), as; Coleman Hawkins (3), ts; Denzil Best (4), dr. NY 1944 Asch

Aries Mary Lou Williams Trio from Zodiac Suite(12 parts) Mary Lou Williams, p; Al Lucas, b; Jack The Bear Parker, dr. NYC,  Asch, 1945

Rhumba Re-Bop, Blues At Mary Lou's,  Mary Lou Williams Girl Stars- Majorie Hyams, vib; Mary Lou Williams, p; Mary Osborne, g + voc; Bea Taylor, b; Bridget O'Flynn, dr. NYC, Continental, 1945