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Re: New book: In Search of the Blues by Marybeth Hamilton

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  • spacelights
    ... I hadn t heard of the book until your post--I do think Ellington had achieved a good deal of currency due to CBS radio broadcasts from the Cotton Club in
    Message 1 of 18 , Feb 13, 2007
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      --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Greenwood"
      <robertgreenwood_54uk@...> wrote:
      >
      > Miss Hamilton's assertion that, despite the high regard in which they
      > are held by the cognoscenti, the recordings of artists such as Charley
      > Patton and his contemporaries and successors did not "enjoy much of a
      > local audience. Even in and around Clarksdale, jukeboxes played the
      > hits, which meant acts such as Louis Jordan and Count Basie, Fats
      > Waller and Duke Ellington. Patton's recordings sold only moderately
      > in his lifetime and those of his followers barely at all." Charley
      > Patton died in 1934 and, although prepared to stand corrected, I
      > question how much popular currency any of the artists named had
      > acquired by that year. Jordan and Basie had no reputations at that
      > time, and Ellington and Waller were known mostly to jazz followers or
      > to those who had heard them in New York or (in the case of Ellington)
      > in Europe.

      I hadn't heard of the book until your post--I do think Ellington had
      achieved a good deal of currency due to CBS radio broadcasts from the
      Cotton Club in the late '20s and early '30s... In 1934, Duke and the
      band featured prominently in the Mae West picture 'Belle Of The
      Nineties' (1934), which would have been huge exposure at the time.
      Waller also broadcast frequently... In a sense it doesn't matter, as
      Patton was more of a folk musician, recording blues and spirituals
      (the latter comprising his finest work, I feel) more or less
      exclusively. Interesting controversy (let's hope) anyway, cheers.

      John
    • Hugh Crozier
      There may be a case for the popularity of Waller and Ellington as early as 1934 but at that time Louis Jordan was playing with Clarence Williams (I think). He
      Message 2 of 18 , Feb 14, 2007
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        There may be a case for the popularity of Waller and Ellington as early as 1934 but at that time Louis Jordan was playing with Clarence Williams (I think). He did not record his own band until 1938 (even then I don't think it was under his own name). His great success was in the late 40s and early 50s.

        The suspicion must be that the reviewer Robert refers to knows a few names from the jazz era and just lumped them together.

        Hugh


        ----- Original Message ----
        From: spacelights <spacelights@...>
        To: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Wednesday, 14 February, 2007 3:54:26 AM
        Subject: [RedHotJazz] Re: New book: In Search of the Blues by Marybeth Hamilton

        --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogro ups.com, "Robert Greenwood"
        <robertgreenwood_ 54uk@...> wrote:
        >
        > Miss Hamilton's assertion that, despite the high regard in which they
        > are held by the cognoscenti, the recordings of artists such as Charley
        > Patton and his contemporaries and successors did not "enjoy much of a
        > local audience. Even in and around Clarksdale, jukeboxes played the
        > hits, which meant acts such as Louis Jordan and Count Basie, Fats
        > Waller and Duke Ellington. Patton's recordings sold only moderately
        > in his lifetime and those of his followers barely at all." Charley
        > Patton died in 1934 and, although prepared to stand corrected, I
        > question how much popular currency any of the artists named had
        > acquired by that year. Jordan and Basie had no reputations at that
        > time, and Ellington and Waller were known mostly to jazz followers or
        > to those who had heard them in New York or (in the case of Ellington)
        > in Europe.

        I hadn't heard of the book until your post--I do think Ellington had
        achieved a good deal of currency due to CBS radio broadcasts from the
        Cotton Club in the late '20s and early '30s... In 1934, Duke and the
        band featured prominently in the Mae West picture 'Belle Of The
        Nineties' (1934), which would have been huge exposure at the time.
        Waller also broadcast frequently.. . In a sense it doesn't matter, as
        Patton was more of a folk musician, recording blues and spirituals
        (the latter comprising his finest work, I feel) more or less
        exclusively. Interesting controversy (let's hope) anyway, cheers.

        John






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      • Howard Rye
        on 14/2/07 8:57, Hugh Crozier at jellyrollstomp@yahoo.co.uk wrote: The suspicion must be that the reviewer Robert refers to knows a few names from the jazz era
        Message 3 of 18 , Feb 14, 2007
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          on 14/2/07 8:57, Hugh Crozier at jellyrollstomp@... wrote:



          The suspicion must be that the reviewer Robert refers to knows a few names
          from the jazz era and just lumped them together.

          The names almost certainly come from the book because they derive from a
          list of records on juke-boxes compiled by a Libary fo Congress researcher in
          1942. Years ago, there was a short piece about this in Jazz Monthly.

          This is getting to be rather an "old" debate. It was pointed out when this
          research was first reported that the fact that records are on a juke-box
          doesn't prove than anyone plays them. Almost always what is on the juke-box
          will be centrally controlled by the distributor and will include the pop
          hots of the day a a result of contractual arrangements with record
          distributors. On top of this a sane operator will make adjustments based on
          what he thinks the clientele at any particular location will pay for.

          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]
        • David Brown
          Robert Many thanks for fascinating post but I won t be rushing out to buy. Bill Russell, although he did bring certain preconceptions to the music of N.O. in
          Message 4 of 18 , Feb 14, 2007
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            Robert

            Many thanks for fascinating post but I won't be rushing out to buy. Bill
            Russell, although he did bring certain preconceptions to the music of N.O.
            in the 40s, must be a figure revered by any serious lover of our music.

            The reference to juke box sounds supposedly contemporary with Patton
            displays the profound ignorance of today's 'experts'.

            Surely blues ,at that time, was totally a local folk music based on a local
            audience with style varying over even a few miles ?

            Waller only hit big after the first Rhythm sides of 1934 and I suspect that
            Ellington's constituency was primarily urban throughout his career. Basie
            and Jordan are obvious anomalies in this context. What evidence is produced
            to support this unlikely claim ? And, as Howard points out, what does it
            prove anyway ?

            I, for one, would be pleased to read your demolition of Marybeth and suggest
            a post is the way to maximum dissemination.

            Dave




            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Robert Greenwood
            Thanks, Dave. I don t necessarily think that M. Hamilton s book displays the profound ignorance of today s experts. There are plenty of true experts around.
            Message 5 of 18 , Feb 14, 2007
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              Thanks, Dave. I don't necessarily think that M. Hamilton's book
              displays the profound ignorance of today's experts. There are plenty
              of true experts around. You could perhaps look on the Yahoo Pre-war
              Blues list; plenty of expert and erudite comment on there. Hamilton
              is an example, I would say, of the sort of academic who cobbles a
              book together without doing any first-hand research. It's on the
              blues, an "attractive" subject seen by people like the editor of the
              Observer Music Monthly as a precursor to rock music, so it gets well
              reviewed by journalists as inexpert and uninformed as the author, who
              blithely ignores contrary opinion and expert comment, adds the book
              to her CV, renews her teaching contract, and moves on to write
              further rubbish about some other "cultural studies" topic.
              Here is some more from Caspar Llewellyn Smith's review of her book in
              the Observer:
              "The author spent her teenage years in San Diego and was a fan of
              prototype punks the New York Dolls. She came to the blues through the
              writings of critic Greil Marcus, in whose seminal Mystery Train,
              Robert Johnson was fancifully identified as rock'n'roll's progenitor.
              It took Hamilton 15 years to get around to listening to Johnson's
              recordings - and he only ever did commit 29 songs to vinyl, before
              his death at the probable age of 27 in 1938…When the author did
              listen, she confesses: 'I heard very little, just a guitar, a keening
              vocal and a lot of surface noise' and certainly not the tale of
              existential anguish that others identified."
              There's that word "seminal" again. I trust that no-one else out there
              listening to Robert Johnson hears "just a guitar, a keening vocal and
              a lot of surface noise"?
              Robert.
            • Robert Greenwood
              ... N.O. ... What preconceptions were they? Robert
              Message 6 of 18 , Feb 14, 2007
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                --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "David Brown" <johnhaleysims@...>
                wrote:
                >
                > Bill
                > Russell, although he did bring certain preconceptions to the music of
                N.O.
                > in the 40s...

                What preconceptions were they?

                Robert
              • tommersl
                That doesn t seem to be supported with facts. Patton s first record sold in 5 figures, and they kept invite him to record more and more though the Dow-Jones
                Message 7 of 18 , Feb 14, 2007
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                  That doesn't seem to be supported with facts.
                  Patton's first record sold in 5 figures, and they kept invite him to
                  record more and more though the Dow-Jones was down. And he had more
                  records out than anybody else in 1931 (and Howard can you correct me
                  if I'm wrong?). In the 1960's Gayle Dean Wardlow saw that Patton was
                  still popular in the Delta when he asked people about him.
                  http://www.bluesworld.com/Gayle
                  Today jukeboxes in the Delta has artists like Bobby Rush. But for the
                  writer of a similar book in the future the claim will be that it was
                  probably whoever else because whatever reason. They don't really know
                  what really happened or what they are talking about.
                  I wonder what Gayle Dean Wardlow would say about it if he read this.
                  Tommersl


                  --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Greenwood"
                  <robertgreenwood_54uk@...> wrote:
                  > Miss Hamilton's assertion that, despite the high regard in which they
                  > are held by the cognoscenti, the recordings of artists such as Charley
                  > Patton and his contemporaries and successors did not "enjoy much of a
                  > local audience. Even in and around Clarksdale, jukeboxes played the
                  > hits, which meant acts such as Louis Jordan and Count Basie, Fats
                  > Waller and Duke Ellington. Patton's recordings sold only moderately
                  > in his lifetime and those of his followers barely at all."
                • Robert Dewar
                  One could scarcely write a more damning parody of a bio without maximum effort! Too funny. I am trying to keep an open mind on this book and author but its
                  Message 8 of 18 , Feb 14, 2007
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                    One could scarcely write a more damning parody of a bio without
                    maximum effort! Too funny.

                    I am trying to keep an open mind on this book and author but its
                    starting to get hard to do so.

                    Robert JD
                    >
                    > Here is some more from Caspar Llewellyn Smith's review of her book in
                    > the Observer:
                    > "The author spent her teenage years in San Diego and was a fan of
                    > prototype punks the New York Dolls. She came to the blues through the
                    > writings of critic Greil Marcus, in whose seminal Mystery Train,
                    > Robert Johnson was fancifully identified as rock'n'roll's progenitor.
                    > It took Hamilton 15 years to get around to listening to Johnson's
                    > recordings - and he only ever did commit 29 songs to vinyl, before
                    > his death at the probable age of 27 in 1938…When the author did
                    > listen, she confesses: 'I heard very little, just a guitar, a keening
                    > vocal and a lot of surface noise' and certainly not the tale of
                    > existential anguish that others identified."

                    > There's that word "seminal" again. I trust that no-one else out there
                    > listening to Robert Johnson hears "just a guitar, a keening vocal and
                    > a lot of surface noise"?
                    > Robert.
                  • David Brown
                    Robert I bow to no man, expect maybe your good self, in my admiration for Bill Russell but I suggest that what Bill expected to find in N.O. in the 40s was
                    Message 9 of 18 , Feb 14, 2007
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                      Robert

                      I bow to no man, expect maybe your good self, in my admiration for Bill
                      Russell but I suggest that what Bill expected to find in N.O. in the 40s was
                      music of the 'classic' era, or even earlier, somehow preserved. However, the
                      music of N.O. -- as everywhere -- had evolved and altered. I would argue
                      that, to some extent, by his choice of musicians and repertoire he imposed
                      his own vision and produced an artificial hybrid --- marvellous indeed --
                      which was not representative of N.O music of that time.

                      Dave





                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Robert Greenwood
                      I have never found any evidence to support this. The most reliable way to find out if Bill had any preconceptions that may have determined the music heard on
                      Message 10 of 18 , Feb 15, 2007
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                        I have never found any evidence to support this. The most reliable
                        way to find out if Bill had any preconceptions that may have
                        determined the music heard on the AMs must be in Bill's journals kept
                        at the time of the AM recordings and published in 1993 by George Buck
                        as "Bill Russell's American Music." I don't think Bill set out to
                        create an accurate and complete documentary record of New Orleans
                        music of the mid-1940s (even supposing such a project were feasible,
                        or would in itself avoid charges of "preconceptions") so he can
                        hardly be criticised for failing to achieve something he never set
                        out to achieve in the first place.
                        I think he wanted to record Bunk in the best setting he could find
                        for him. Bunk had been off the scene for some years by then and so a
                        band had to be put together for him made up of musicians who may not
                        have been Bunk's first choice and with whom some compromises may have
                        had to be made.
                        Robert

                        --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "David Brown" <johnhaleysims@...>
                        wrote:
                        >
                        > Robert
                        >
                        > I bow to no man, expect maybe your good self, in my admiration for
                        Bill
                        > Russell but I suggest that what Bill expected to find in N.O. in
                        the 40s was
                        > music of the 'classic' era, or even earlier, somehow preserved.
                        However, the
                        > music of N.O. -- as everywhere -- had evolved and altered. I would
                        argue
                        > that, to some extent, by his choice of musicians and repertoire he
                        imposed
                        > his own vision and produced an artificial hybrid --- marvellous
                        indeed --
                        > which was not representative of N.O music of that time.
                        >
                        > Dave
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >
                      • jonasfixe
                        Hello I m a musician from Portugal and recently got to know this group, which I find interesting. I recently have been to Guildford UK, and bought this
                        Message 11 of 18 , Feb 15, 2007
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                          Hello

                          I'm a musician from Portugal and recently got to know this group,
                          which I find interesting.

                          I recently have been to Guildford UK, and bought this wonderful book
                          of John Chilton "JAZZ", and I think this quote confirms what you
                          say, Robert:

                          Page 89

                          "In 1940, Heywood Hale Broun, a jazz magazine editor, decided it was
                          time that he visited New Orleans to record other musicians, like
                          Bunk, who had played a part in early jazz history. Bunk Johnson was
                          offered the chance to play on the session, but he was busy
                          rehabilitating himself […].Instead, a younger man, Henry (Kid) Arena,
                          who had been in the Waif's Home Band with Louis Armstrong, played the
                          trumpet on the recordings […].

                          Bill Russell, one of the few writers who could then justifiably be
                          called an expert on New Orleans jazz, wrote in his initial review of
                          the records: `New Orleans music is played by groups of any size
                          specified by an employer, and ranges from the single piano player in
                          the tonks and whorehouses to the bands of twenty or more used for
                          funerals and Mardi Gras parades.' He went on to say: `although the
                          records featured a line-up similar to that used by Buddy Bolden's
                          band, they were not a deliberate attempt to recreate the traditional
                          jazz style of the 20's or even the 30's. They contained a variety of
                          New Orleans music: marches, folk-tunes, composed pieces and
                          improvised blues played by a group of outstanding musicians.' All
                          this made sense, as there never had been a de rigueur instrumentation
                          for New Orleans jazz."

                          Regards,

                          Joao Pedro



                          --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Greenwood"
                          <robertgreenwood_54uk@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > I have never found any evidence to support this. The most reliable
                          > way to find out if Bill had any preconceptions that may have
                          > determined the music heard on the AMs must be in Bill's journals
                          kept
                          > at the time of the AM recordings and published in 1993 by George
                          Buck
                          > as "Bill Russell's American Music." I don't think Bill set out to
                          > create an accurate and complete documentary record of New Orleans
                          > music of the mid-1940s (even supposing such a project were
                          feasible,
                          > or would in itself avoid charges of "preconceptions") so he can
                          > hardly be criticised for failing to achieve something he never set
                          > out to achieve in the first place.
                          > I think he wanted to record Bunk in the best setting he could find
                          > for him. Bunk had been off the scene for some years by then and so
                          a
                          > band had to be put together for him made up of musicians who may
                          not
                          > have been Bunk's first choice and with whom some compromises may
                          have
                          > had to be made.
                          > Robert
                          >
                          > --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "David Brown" <johnhaleysims@>
                          > wrote:
                          > >
                          > > Robert
                          > >
                          > > I bow to no man, expect maybe your good self, in my admiration
                          for
                          > Bill
                          > > Russell but I suggest that what Bill expected to find in N.O. in
                          > the 40s was
                          > > music of the 'classic' era, or even earlier, somehow preserved.
                          > However, the
                          > > music of N.O. -- as everywhere -- had evolved and altered. I
                          would
                          > argue
                          > > that, to some extent, by his choice of musicians and repertoire
                          he
                          > imposed
                          > > his own vision and produced an artificial hybrid --- marvellous
                          > indeed --
                          > > which was not representative of N.O music of that time.
                          > >
                          > > Dave
                          > >
                          > >
                          > >
                          > >
                          > >
                          > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          > >
                          >
                        • David Brown
                          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
                          Message 12 of 18 , Feb 17, 2007
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                            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




                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Tony Standish
                            All sorts of people made the pilgrimage to New Orleans, from the Forties right thru to the present day - Williams, Edward Smith, Russell, Stuart, Ertegun,
                            Message 13 of 18 , Feb 18, 2007
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                              All sorts of people made the pilgrimage to New Orleans, from the Forties
                              right thru to the present day - Williams, Edward Smith, Russell, Stuart,
                              Ertegun, Allen, Ramsay, Charters, Mills, and on and on.. They - we - all
                              went to hear the music that remained. They listened, they recorded, they
                              sometimes meddled a bit, but out of it all came came many sublime musical
                              experiences that gave much joy to people all around the world.
                              I don't really care much if Bill might have suggested to Bunk to play Closer
                              Walk, or if the Kid Thomas Band was called the Kid Thomas Band or the
                              Algiers Stompers. They played in Algiers. They stomped right along. What
                              does it really matter?
                              George was a good clarinet player. Like all great players, there were bits
                              and pieces he picked up from others along the way - not only from Dodds, but
                              from reed men we may have never heard, or from Woody Herman (listen to Woody
                              on Bing's "I Want me Mamma"),or from recordngs by Guy Lombardo! One could
                              write a thesis on the subject, and my mate Barry Wratten may well be
                              encouraged to do just that.
                              The musos played parades with theTuxedo during the day; at night they played
                              rock 'n' roll at bars or private functions. They were players, who provided
                              music for dancing, marching, cake-walking, smooching or whatever the Man
                              asked of them.
                              Gene Williams was gobsmacked when he heard the Ory band playing waltzes and
                              popular songs in the same style that they played Muskrat Ramble. No need to
                              be surprised.
                              Perhaps that is where the jazz pilgrims made their big mistake, by insisting
                              that the musicians play jazz "standards" rather than the songs they played
                              nightly at local gigs!
                              But that's hindsight. We weren't there to advise them, were we?
                              Tony Standish mojohand@....
                              From: "David Brown" <johnhaleysims@...>
                              To: <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
                              Sent: Sunday, February 18, 2007 6:31 PM
                              Subject: RE: [RedHotJazz] Re: Bill Russell (Was: New book: In Search of the
                              Blues by Marybeth Hamilton)


                              > 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
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > Yahoo! Groups Links
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                            • Robert Greenwood
                              It s always important, I think, to go back to the source, or, at least, as close to the source as we can get. If we don t do this all sorts of half-truths,
                              Message 14 of 18 , Feb 20, 2007
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                                It's always important, I think, to go back to the source, or, at
                                least, as close to the source as we can get. If we don't do this all
                                sorts of half-truths, untruths, and slanders go into circulation. I
                                have looked into Dave's suggestion that Bill Russell "went to New
                                Orleans to record `his' band of names – pre-eminently Bunk – gleaned
                                from his researches."
                                My main source of information here is the chapter in Tom Bethell's
                                biography of George Lewis, published in 1978, concerning the first
                                recordings made of Bunk. Bethell had access to the diaries Bill
                                Russell kept at the time that these recordings were made in 1942. It
                                seems that the project entailed some compromise between Bill Russell
                                and Gene Williams on the one hand, and, on the other, a contingent of
                                enthusiasts from Los Angeles consisting of Dave Stuart, proprietor of
                                the Jazz Man Record Shop, Hal McIntyre, and Bill Colburn who had
                                decided, independently, to travel to New Orleans that year to record
                                Bunk for Stuart's Jazz Man label. It was Stuart who suggested that
                                what they really wanted for the records was "another Dodds", and it
                                was Colburn who mentioned to George Lewis that they were looking for
                                someone who played like Johnny Dodds. George's tactful reply was that
                                he used to play something like him. It's interesting, I think, that
                                Bill's diary, quoted by Bethell, concerning their search for a
                                suitable clarinettist to record with Bunk, reads: "Then we tried
                                uptown, looking for `another Dodds'…" Notice that the phrase "another
                                Dodds" is in inverted commas, suggesting that Bill was somewhat
                                exasperated at this stipulation on the part of the Californians and
                                wanted to disassociate himself from it.
                                According to Mike Hazeldine in Song of the Wanderer, the biography of
                                Bunk which he co-authored with Barry Martyn, the Dawn Club in San
                                Francisco, where Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band held sway, had a
                                musical policy of "No tune written after 1929", a scary and, frankly,
                                cretinous motto printed on the club's matchbooks. Hazeldine
                                writes: "In order to familiarize their patrons with the vintage
                                repertoire, the band had a selection of numbers printed on a card
                                that was given out at the Dawn Club. The tunes were later painted on
                                to a large display board positioned behind the bar." I would say that
                                going to New Orleans in search of another Johnny Dodds, and that
                                trying to tell a working musician like George Lewis, who had lived in
                                New Orleans all his life, how to play is all part and parcel of this
                                idiocy. Incidentally, Hazeldine attributes to Turk Murphy, Watters'
                                trombonist, the "honour" of having first coined the term "traditional
                                jazz." The ever-percipient critic Max Harrison wrote in 1964: "…the
                                white revivalist bands…might be described as the creation of
                                malcontent record collectors whose knowledge of the `twenties led to
                                their reaction against swing music. While the `survivalists' were
                                sometimes treated with extraordinary patronisation – `What's that old
                                man doing, trying to tell us about New Orleans jazz? We've made a
                                study of New Orleans jazz', observed someone as Bunk Johnson tried to
                                knock sense into the Lu Watters band – the efforts of the white
                                revivalist groups were taken very seriously indeed. They were seen
                                not only as a revolt against professionals, but as an attempt to lead
                                jazz back to the manly virtues of an older and supposedly simpler
                                time. This is not the place to discuss the essential falseness – not
                                to say arrogance – of such ideals, and it is easy enough to observe
                                that the movement finally ran aground with the aridly stylised
                                conventions of trad."
                                Harrison acknowledges that the "asinine comment" on Bunk is taken
                                from Charters. I'm not sure where the Mairzy Dotes story, mentioned
                                by Dave, comes from, but I think that may also be in Charters. I'll
                                check; unless someone else wants to?
                                So really I think that if there was ever any sinister agenda
                                surrounding the recording of Bunk it came not from Bill Russell or
                                Gene Williams, but from the Dawn Club bigots with their central
                                committee list of approved tunes, their invention of "Traditional
                                jazz" (never a term ever, I think, used by Bill Russell), and
                                their "study of New Orleans jazz."
                                In another posting to this list will describe how Bunk's first
                                recording band came about.
                                Robert Greenwood
                              • David Brown
                                Robert A privilege to read your definitive researches. Many thanks and I look forward to further enlightenment. While it is possible to well understand a
                                Message 15 of 18 , Feb 20, 2007
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                                  Robert

                                  A privilege to read your definitive researches. Many thanks and I look
                                  forward to further enlightenment.

                                  While it is possible to well understand a critic of Harrison's generation
                                  dismissing en masse 'traditional' jazz, and while his reading of its origins
                                  is accurate, it is simplistic to view the various diverse 'revivals' as
                                  one. The initial revival was definitely West Coast /Watters. I have this
                                  dated to 1938/9. The musicians were mainly ex-dance band professionals and
                                  so I suggest a degree of deliberate 'posing' was necessary. The revival in
                                  UK dates from about 1942 and its instigators were defiantly amateur. Chilton
                                  in his book 'Jazz' --quoted recently on the Forum and much recommended as
                                  primer -- sees the revival as simultaneous in California, England &
                                  Australia. I think all European Continental revivalism was necessarily a
                                  post-war phenomena, the earliest supposed Euro revival band, the Dutch Swing
                                  College, was indeed formed earlier but, as the name implies, was not then a
                                  revivalist band.

                                  The movement was indeed record driven, especially the 1939 issues from
                                  Morton, Bechet and Spanier. However, the model taken in all three countries
                                  were the 'classic' sides of Oliver C.B. including the unnecessary two
                                  trumpet frontline. Also, all three imposed upon the music the inauthentic
                                  brass bass, which never was a N.O. instrument. Why ? I am always wary of
                                  coincidental theories of art history and this spontaneous simultaneity seems
                                  unlikely. Watters got there first and although did not record till 1941 must
                                  be seen as prime mover for all 'Traditional' jazz. Ory, long in retirement
                                  on the W.Coast, did not reform a band till 1942.

                                  Paradoxically, the records of actual N.O. starting from 1942 undermined the
                                  'classic' revival. This was a different music to emulate. Thus we had the
                                  'second 'or 'N.O. revival' of Ken Colyer which used contemporary N.O. music
                                  as model. To me, this movement had far more value as its models were alive.
                                  It was this wing of revivalism from which grew the mass popular movement
                                  'Trad' which swept Europe at the end of the 50s into the 60s.

                                  ' Arid stylised conventions ' eventually indeed but 'trad' was the only
                                  revivalist movement to actually use contemporary Pop and other non-received
                                  material --classical, and folk themes. Maybe this can in some way account
                                  for its crazy popularity ?

                                  ' If we had a new popular number worked up real good, this made for more
                                  jobs. They would hire the band that had the new stuff '-- Johnny St
                                  yr --Jazz Journal Sept 1966 of pre-1920 N.O.

                                  Is this enough to account for the movement which although maybe started by
                                  'malcontent record collectors' was picked up by a whole generation of
                                  post-war European youth as a kind of displaced folk music ? It carried also
                                  political and social ideologies. It is still there --worldwide must be
                                  thousands of bands essaying all colours of traditional jazz.

                                  Dave



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                                • Robert Greenwood
                                  As promised, here is an account of how the band for Bunk s first recording session in 1942 was formed. My main sources of information are Tom Bethell s
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Feb 21, 2007
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                                    As promised, here is an account of how the band for Bunk's first
                                    recording session in 1942 was formed. My main sources of information
                                    are Tom Bethell's biography of George Lewis, and Mike Hazeldine &
                                    Barry Martyn's biography of Bunk, both of which draw on the diary
                                    kept by Bill Russell at the time of the recording session.

                                    According to Bethell "Russell was hoping they could find a hotter
                                    clarinettist than Big Eye (Louis Nelson)." Nelson was nevertheless
                                    approached by Russell and the others and was considered as a
                                    possibility, but he felt too ill to make the recording. Mike
                                    Hazeldine appears to interpret Bill Russell's diary to mean that Bill
                                    was intent on finding another Dodds for the session, but I disagree
                                    with this reading and maintain that this was more the intention of
                                    Stuart, Colburn, and McIntyre, and that the inverted commas
                                    round "another Dodds" are significant.

                                    Bunk's first named choices of sidemen were trombonist Vic Gaspard,
                                    and clarinettist Alphonse Picou. It turned out that Gaspard no longer
                                    played, and Picou was away visiting his daughter in California. Bunk
                                    was keen to have Picou on board for his ability to play items from
                                    the classic ragtime repertoire which Bunk was not to record until his
                                    last session in 1947.

                                    Bunk recalled a clarinettist named George Strode or possibly George
                                    Stewart with whom he had worked in the Evan Thomas band on the
                                    unfortunate night in 1932 when, at a dance gig in Rayne, Louisiana,
                                    Thomas was knifed to death by a jealous husband. Eventually Bunk
                                    remembered that the clarinettist's name was George Lewis. So the use
                                    of George Lewis, a musician until then unknown to Bill Russell, Gene
                                    Williams, or the others, was at Bunk's suggestion. Colburn,
                                    nevertheless, felt compelled to make his tactless suggestion to
                                    George regarding their wanting a clarinettist who sounded something
                                    like Dodds.

                                    Williams and Russell wanted Jim Robinson on trombone, having heard
                                    his playing on the 1940 Kid Rena sides. When they eventually caught
                                    up with him, Jim agreed to do the session and gave them George
                                    Lewis's address. He also suggested Kid Howard as a possible drummer,
                                    but Bunk vetoed that idea and Ernest Rodgers was used instead.
                                    Paul Barbarin, Walter Pichon (Bunk's suggestion for pianist), and
                                    Johnny St Cyr were all approached and asked if they were interested
                                    in recording with Bunk, but they all turned down the offer, not
                                    wanting to risk the wrath of the union by recording with non-union
                                    Bunk. Austin Young (Lester's cousin, according to Lester Young's
                                    biographer Frank Buchman-Moller, rather than his uncle, as stated by
                                    Bethell), heard playing at The Fern, a taxi-dance hall on Iberville
                                    Street, was recruited as bassist. Word had obviously got round about
                                    the proposed recording session because Albert Glenny, who had once
                                    worked as Buddy Bolden's bassist, called on Bunk offering his
                                    services but Bunk reckoned that Young was the better choice. This is
                                    perhaps interesting because, if the point of the exercise was to
                                    reproduce the music of some imagined golden age, who better to join
                                    the band than a man who really had worked with Bolden? It seems that
                                    questions of musical know-how and reliability won the day. Bunk
                                    failed to contact the guitarist Willie Santiago in time for him to
                                    make the session, so Jim Robinson suggested banjoist Lawrence
                                    Marrero. Walter Decou played piano on the session. All in all, the
                                    final choice of line-up was down to recommendations by the musicians
                                    and to who was available on the day.

                                    The only instance of any direct musical interference comes from one
                                    of the Californians. George was given a new clarinet by McIntyre to
                                    use on the session. Bethell writes that the "clarinet George had used
                                    for the first rehearsal perhaps didn't look to be in very good shape,
                                    but it had sounded excellent, and Russell had commented that George
                                    didn't sound as good at the recording session as he had the day
                                    before…All this can no doubt be attributed to the unfamiliar (and
                                    possibly, not very good) instrument which George Lewis deferentially
                                    used rather than seem ungrateful by bringing along his own
                                    instrument. Russell subsequently regretted that this was done, and in
                                    later years when he recorded George he never suggested that George
                                    use a different clarinet, no matter how many rubber bands his regular
                                    instrument might have on it."

                                    Hazeldine writes that the records, eventually released on Dave
                                    Stuart's Jazz Man label, sold almost 1,000 copies across the USA,
                                    with "Bunk's Blues" selling only a few hundred. Contrast this, if you
                                    will, with the 10,000-plus Lu Watters records sold in San Francisco
                                    alone.
                                    Robert Greenwood
                                  • David Brown
                                    Robert. Many thanks again for sharing your wisdom with us --er --us ? Me ? We have previously discussed here the McIntyre clarinet. The sleeve of the Good
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Feb 21, 2007
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                                      Robert.

                                      Many thanks again for sharing your wisdom with us --er --us ? Me ?

                                      We have previously discussed here the McIntyre clarinet. The sleeve of the
                                      Good Time reissue of the Jazz Mans, written by Stuart, informs that McIntyre
                                      bought two second-hand clarinets and offered them to George who chose one.
                                      But the note says specifically that they were both Boehms. No wonder George
                                      did not sound as good as on his old accustomed Albert. This also illustrates
                                      the supreme ignorance of the West Coast mafia and the degree of subservience
                                      to which a great musician like George felt obliged.

                                      Dave


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