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7572Re: Arnett Nelson

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  • scottlededoo
    Jul 30, 2009
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      Re Arnett Nelson

      I have been away or otherwise occupied since I first enrolled in RedHotJazz and have only just looked at it again so am referring back to a rather old topic (which featured some of my earlier scratchings) but find I have some new things to say on the subject.

      Firstly, my view that Nelson is on the King Mutts has come under question due to the allegations in Jazz Records 5 that Mutt Carton and Ed Boudreaux are the trumpet and clarinettist involved – an allegation that has an entirely clandestine provenance though apparently emanating from the late John R.T. Davies – Malcolm Shaw is no wiser that I am. Definitive evidence is urgently required but frustratingly elusive. Boudreaux is intriguing because he also has in common with Nelson an association with Tommy Ladnier and Roy Palmer in 1923 but is otherwise a figure of mystery whom our genealogists have so far failed to pin down. It is good, on the other hand, to know the true background of Nelson – not New Orleans as we had assumed from Lee Collins's recollection.

      I am currently working on a book entitled Chicago Swingers in which Arnett Nelson is heavily featured in a blues band context and am pretty familiar with the various eccentricities of his style. I have little doubt, by admittedly only aural comparison with adjacent sessions where he is pretty well established, that he is present on both Casey Bill's Round And Round sessions – but the earlier version has in fact two clarinets in the final chorus, the other being almost certainly Bill Owsley who plays tenor sax elsewhere in the session. Owsley was beginning to take over the reed duties on these Vocalion and Bluebird recordings, often playing clarinet on one number and sax on the other. His clarinet is rather thin and anonymous but his tenor is very robust and full of character, ideal for the blues style of the later thirties.
      --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, Howard Rye <howard@...> wrote:
      > I don't think we can possibly say that Lee Collins "mistook him for N.O."
      > Collins knew him well, but he knew him as a man who had "played his very
      > first job in New Orleans with my father's band after Lorenzo Tio, Sr. left"
      > (Oh Didn't He Ramble, p.59).
      > It seems to me that we need assume no more from this than that Arnett made
      > the show-business pilgrimage to N.O. in search of work, and got some. But in
      > any case there must be some confusion here because Tio, Sr. had retired from
      > music and moved to Alabama in 1906.
      > Collins describes Nelson as "a great clarinet player but had a weird style,
      > something like Wilbur Sweatman." "Arnett's biggest trouble was that he liked
      > to do tricks with his clarinet; he would take it all apart and play it."
      > Sweatman, who was also notorious for such tricks and concealed his abilities
      > as a jazz musician from later enthusiasts even more successfully than
      > Arnett, was born and raised in Missouri, which rather supports your
      > deductions.
      > There are several photos of the Wade band with Nelson accompanying Ralph
      > Gulliver's research in Storyville 55. As the heart of this research is the
      > recollections and identifications of trombonist Bill Dover (pronounced
      > Duvver, rather than like the English seaport) I think they are beyond doubt.
      > Nelson wrote Buddy's Habit, which was copyrighted on 11 May 1923.
      > on 4/4/08 9:57, David Brown at johnhaleysims@... wrote:
      > Many many thanks to Bob and Howard.
      > I discover that Ellisville is only 13 miles from St Louis and a long, long
      > way from N.O. If Arnett was resident in this area till at least age 25
      > difficult to understand how Lee Collins mistook him for N.O. Can anybody who
      > has the Collins add ? Also difficult to understand how he is supposed to
      > have absorbed 'Creole' clarinet style. Much more likely that St Louis was
      > prime influence.
      > I've just listened the Wades and both 'Mobile Blues' 1923 and 'Gates Blues'
      > 1928 offer low-register, rather rudimentary clarinet solos. Nothing here
      > with Rev. Thacker's 'portamentos' redolent of N.O. Creole clarinet style.
      > The Wade photo on RHJ shows a supposed Arnett holding a tenor with a soprano
      > in front of him and there may also be a clarinet. The Mutts 1929 also offer
      > clarinet soloist with similar style although more obviously Dodds
      > influenced. I suggest that any N.O. in Nelson was derived from Dodds, whose
      > style was dominant on the South Side in the 20s.
      > Also the various styles, as even noted by Virgo, are always suspicious of
      > various players.
      > What other clarinettists were active in Chicago blues area in the 30s ?
      > Dave
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
      > howard@...
      > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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