3835RE: [RedHotJazz] Re: Bill Russell (Was: New book: In Search of the Blues by Marybeth Hamilton)
- Feb 17, 2007Robert
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by which it had surely been totally superseded in N.O. as elsewhere.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.
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