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3835RE: [RedHotJazz] Re: Bill Russell (Was: New book: In Search of the Blues by Marybeth Hamilton)

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  • David Brown
    Feb 17, 2007
      Robert

      I am open to correction from such a learned source. Do we now therefore
      reject the received opinion that Bill was attempting time travel in N.O. in
      1943 ? My reading was that Bill went to N.O. to record 'his' band of
      names -- pre-eminently Bunk -- gleaned from his researches and, as you
      state, not to record N.O. music in its 1943 incarnation. The quote from Joao
      Pedro -- to whom many thanks -- which I have dated to October 1940, does,
      however, suggest Bill's openness.

      As to George, he was simply the best clarinettist in N.O. in 1943 and it was
      Bunk who suggested him. Bill had gone intending to use Big Eye Louis -- more
      contemporary to Bunk and perhaps indicative of an attempt to record an
      earlier style -- but found him too ill to play.

      Do we also remove from Bill suspicion as instigator of, or participator in,
      anti-saxophone bias which pervaded much early N.O. revival recording ?

      Surely though he must take prime seat as re-instigator of banjo over guitar,
      by which it had surely been totally superseded in N.O. as elsewhere. He is
      certainly on record as having this preference and there is somewhere a near
      scoff of Marrero wanting to bring his electric guitar to a session. The
      plankplunk of so many worldwide revivalist bands can maybe therefore be laid
      at his door ?

      And what about repertoire ? There is the story of George and musicians
      learning the required classic repertoire round a gramophone. I suggest
      that, pre-revival, all N.O. bands would have been expected to play
      contemporary pop material such as ' Mairzy Doats' which Bunk wanted to
      record. With the revival, repertoire was frozen to the classic jazz tunes
      and popular material of a bygone era only. The repertoire and therefore, to
      an extent, the music failed to grow. Was this Bill ?

      Bill, above all, had wonderful ears and no criticism intended because
      whoever else may have been available to record in N.O.in 1943 it is almost
      certain that no better music could have been captured. There is, however,
      the question as to why he was not interested in recording actual working
      bands which he did not do till the 50s I think. Does this smack slightly of
      paternalism ? There were working brass marching bands to be recorded, I
      suggest, before the not exactly authentic Bunk derivative.

      Dave




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