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Re: Shields 'St Louis'

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  • Robert Greenwood
    For the benefit of those for whom this link is inaccessible, can you please transcribe or summarise what Shields says? ... several parts ... loquacious and the
    Message 1 of 12 , Mar 3 10:13 AM
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      For the benefit of those for whom this link is inaccessible, can you
      please transcribe or summarise what Shields says?

      --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "David Brown" <johnhaleysims@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > Thanks to Fraser BUT I have found in Louisiana Digital Library
      several parts
      > of an interview with Shields in 1951. He is very far from
      loquacious and the
      > interviewer is embarrassing but Shields himself describes how he
      recorded
      > the 'St Louis Blues' solo.
      >
      > Link below but I'm not sure it'll work as it's long.
      >
      > If not search Louisiana Digital Library Jazz Collection with
      Shields.
      >
      > 'talks about original recordings by O.D.J.B.' is the clip required.
      >
      > http://louisdl.louislibraries.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?
      CISOROOT=/JAZ&CISOPTR
      > =3177&CISOBOX=1&REC=2
      >
    • James O'Briant
      ... Even if the link works, it goes only to the card catalog entry describing the recordings, not to the recordings themselves. Jim O Briant Gilroy, CA Tuba &
      Message 2 of 12 , Mar 3 10:57 AM
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        Robert Greenwood wrote:

        > For the benefit of those for whom this link is inaccessible,
        > can you please transcribe or summarize what Shields says?

        Even if the link works, it goes only to the card catalog entry
        describing the recordings, not to the recordings themselves.

        Jim O'Briant
        Gilroy, CA
        Tuba & Leader, The Zinfandel Stompers
      • pdqblues
        Actually, the almost 7 minute interview is accessible. If you can get to the website (the URL may be on two lines, which you can copy in MS Word and rejoin),
        Message 3 of 12 , Mar 3 12:50 PM
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          Actually, the almost 7 minute interview is accessible. If you can get to the website (the
          URL may be on two lines, which you can copy in MS Word and rejoin), click on the upper
          link "Access this item."

          The original link:

          http://louisdl.louislibraries.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?
          CISOROOT=/JAZ&CISOPTR=3177&CISOBOX=1&REC=2

          The interview link:

          http://louisdl.louislibraries.org/cgi-bin/showfile.exe?
          CISOROOT=/JAZ&CISOPTR=3177&filename=60842212352007_jz002820.ram

          Good luck,

          Paul Furth

          --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "James O'Briant" <jobriant@...> wrote:
          >
          > Robert Greenwood wrote:
          >
          > > For the benefit of those for whom this link is inaccessible,
          > > can you please transcribe or summarize what Shields says?
          >
          > Even if the link works, it goes only to the card catalog entry
          > describing the recordings, not to the recordings themselves.
          >
          > Jim O'Briant
          > Gilroy, CA
          > Tuba & Leader, The Zinfandel Stompers
          >
        • David Brown
          -- the same thing happened to me when we were recording St Louis Blues, the recording manager as we were making a test of St Louis Blues yelled at me to take
          Message 4 of 12 , Mar 4 12:20 AM
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            ' -- the same thing happened to me when we were recording St Louis Blues,
            the recording manager as we were making a test of St Louis Blues yelled at
            me to take a chorus. I didn't know what I was going to play but I took a
            chorus and after the test was over why he told me to keep it in and play it
            exactly as I had played it on the test. So I had him play the test back to
            me to listen to what I had played and then I tried to play it as close as
            possible on the master and so it came out the way you hear it.'

            I am surprised that technology in 1921 allowed for so immediate a playback.
            Anybody know ? Also surprising because it is obvious that ODJB solos were
            routined and regurgitated over years.





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Nick Dellow
            This interview, important though it is, is a good example of why we should treat such evidence with caution! This is not to necessarily deny that the excellent
            Message 5 of 12 , Mar 4 2:14 AM
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              This interview, important though it is, is a good example of why we should
              treat such evidence with caution! This is not to necessarily deny that the
              excellent solo that Shields played was his own in concept, but just that his
              memory of the circumstances surrounding the recording may have been
              polished-up somewhat in order to see it through the mists of time! After
              all, this would not be the first time that a musician had spiced-up a story
              (though, as you say, Shields is hardly the most loquacious of interviewees!)

              I cannot envisage any situation in which a recording engineer at Victor
              would suddenly shout to a musician during the recording "take a chorus",
              even if the recording was only a "test" for balance. Moreover, whatever one
              may think of the ODJB in terms of their legitimacy as pioneer jazz artists,
              they were certainly consummate professionals who had developed their skills
              playing night after night at various establishments. I would think it highly
              likely that "St Louis Blues" was part of their repertoire long before the
              Victor session and that Shields had honed his solo well in advance of the
              recording date. Shields was certainly not unique amongst jazz musicians in
              this respect � Bechet, Hawkins, Bix and many, many others rehearsed the
              "chordal framework" of their solos in advance of recording sessions, when
              fluffs meant a ruined master.

              With regard to playback technology of the time (1921), it is possible to
              play a wax "master" straight after the recording but in doing so the master
              is rendered useless due to the destructive nature of the heavily weighted
              steel needle on the comparatively soft wax.

              Incidentally, the band made no less than five attempts at producing a master
              for "St Louis Blues" before finally succeeding - four takes were rejected on
              May 3rd, 1921, and one was rejected on May 25th before the second take was
              made on the same day and subsequently deemed fit for release.



              2009/3/4 David Brown <johnhaleysims@...>

              > ' -- the same thing happened to me when we were recording St Louis
              > Blues,
              > the recording manager as we were making a test of St Louis Blues yelled at
              > me to take a chorus. I didn't know what I was going to play but I took a
              > chorus and after the test was over why he told me to keep it in and play it
              > exactly as I had played it on the test. So I had him play the test back to
              > me to listen to what I had played and then I tried to play it as close as
              > possible on the master and so it came out the way you hear it.'
              >
              > I am surprised that technology in 1921 allowed for so immediate a playback.
              > Anybody know ? Also surprising because it is obvious that ODJB solos were
              > routined and regurgitated over years.
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Howard Rye
              And one might add to this excellent account of realities that after jazz musicians learned that they were supposed to be improvising they tended to tell
              Message 6 of 12 , Mar 4 2:39 AM
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                And one might add to this excellent account of realities that after jazz
                musicians learned that they were supposed to be improvising they tended to
                tell interviewers that that was what they were doing, when in fact they were
                often (more often than not?) playing a solo they had previously worked out.
                I suspect that for many this was something of a joke against the naivety of
                earnest fans.


                on 04/03/2009 10:14, Nick Dellow at nick.dellow@... wrote:

                > This interview, important though it is, is a good example of why we should
                > treat such evidence with caution! This is not to necessarily deny that the
                > excellent solo that Shields played was his own in concept, but just that his
                > memory of the circumstances surrounding the recording may have been
                > polished-up somewhat in order to see it through the mists of time! After
                > all, this would not be the first time that a musician had spiced-up a story
                > (though, as you say, Shields is hardly the most loquacious of interviewees!)
                >
                > I cannot envisage any situation in which a recording engineer at Victor
                > would suddenly shout to a musician during the recording "take a chorus",
                > even if the recording was only a "test" for balance. Moreover, whatever one
                > may think of the ODJB in terms of their legitimacy as pioneer jazz artists,
                > they were certainly consummate professionals who had developed their skills
                > playing night after night at various establishments. I would think it highly
                > likely that "St Louis Blues" was part of their repertoire long before the
                > Victor session and that Shields had honed his solo well in advance of the
                > recording date. Shields was certainly not unique amongst jazz musicians in
                > this respect – Bechet, Hawkins, Bix and many, many others rehearsed the
                > "chordal framework" of their solos in advance of recording sessions, when
                > fluffs meant a ruined master.
                >
                > With regard to playback technology of the time (1921), it is possible to
                > play a wax "master" straight after the recording but in doing so the master
                > is rendered useless due to the destructive nature of the heavily weighted
                > steel needle on the comparatively soft wax.
                >
                > Incidentally, the band made no less than five attempts at producing a master
                > for "St Louis Blues" before finally succeeding - four takes were rejected on
                > May 3rd, 1921, and one was rejected on May 25th before the second take was
                > made on the same day and subsequently deemed fit for release.
                >
                >
                >
                > 2009/3/4 David Brown <johnhaleysims@...>
                >
                >> ' -- the same thing happened to me when we were recording St Louis
                >> Blues,
                >> the recording manager as we were making a test of St Louis Blues yelled at
                >> me to take a chorus. I didn't know what I was going to play but I took a
                >> chorus and after the test was over why he told me to keep it in and play it
                >> exactly as I had played it on the test. So I had him play the test back to
                >> me to listen to what I had played and then I tried to play it as close as
                >> possible on the master and so it came out the way you hear it.'
                >>
                >> I am surprised that technology in 1921 allowed for so immediate a playback.
                >> Anybody know ? Also surprising because it is obvious that ODJB solos were
                >> routined and regurgitated over years.
                >>
                >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >>
                >>
                >>
                >
                >
                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >
                >
                >
                > ------------------------------------
                >
                > Yahoo! Groups Links
                >
                >
                >


                Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                howard@...
                Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
              • Mordechai Litzman
                Sometimes there exists alternate takes from the same recording session, and with great artists such as Louis Armstrong and Johnny Dodds I take for granted that
                Message 7 of 12 , Mar 4 9:58 AM
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                  Sometimes there exists alternate takes from the same recording session, and with great artists such as Louis Armstrong and Johnny Dodds I take for granted that their solos will be different on different takes. Would you say that the two different solos on the alternate takes of Stomp Off, Let's Go by Louis Armstrong with Erskine Tate's Vendome Orchestra are part of his repertoire or true improvisations? (Available on RHJA at appr. 2 min)




                  ________________________________
                  From: Howard Rye <howard@...>
                  To: red hot jazz <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 5:39:55 AM
                  Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Re: Shields 'St Louis'


                  And one might add to this excellent account of realities that after jazz
                  musicians learned that they were supposed to be improvising they tended to
                  tell interviewers that that was what they were doing, when in fact they were
                  often (more often than not?) playing a solo they had previously worked out.
                  I suspect that for many this was something of a joke against the naivety of
                  earnest fans.

                  on 04/03/2009 10:14, Nick Dellow at nick.dellow@ gmail.com wrote:

                  > This interview, important though it is, is a good example of why we should
                  > treat such evidence with caution! This is not to necessarily deny that the
                  > excellent solo that Shields played was his own in concept, but just that his
                  > memory of the circumstances surrounding the recording may have been
                  > polished-up somewhat in order to see it through the mists of time! After
                  > all, this would not be the first time that a musician had spiced-up a story
                  > (though, as you say, Shields is hardly the most loquacious of interviewees! )
                  >
                  > I cannot envisage any situation in which a recording engineer at Victor
                  > would suddenly shout to a musician during the recording "take a chorus",
                  > even if the recording was only a "test" for balance. Moreover, whatever one
                  > may think of the ODJB in terms of their legitimacy as pioneer jazz artists,
                  > they were certainly consummate professionals who had developed their skills
                  > playing night after night at various establishments. I would think it highly
                  > likely that "St Louis Blues" was part of their repertoire long before the
                  > Victor session and that Shields had honed his solo well in advance of the
                  > recording date. Shields was certainly not unique amongst jazz musicians in
                  > this respect – Bechet, Hawkins, Bix and many, many others rehearsed the
                  > "chordal framework" of their solos in advance of recording sessions, when
                  > fluffs meant a ruined master.
                  >
                  > With regard to playback technology of the time (1921), it is possible to
                  > play a wax "master" straight after the recording but in doing so the master
                  > is rendered useless due to the destructive nature of the heavily weighted
                  > steel needle on the comparatively soft wax.
                  >
                  > Incidentally, the band made no less than five attempts at producing a master
                  > for "St Louis Blues" before finally succeeding - four takes were rejected on
                  > May 3rd, 1921, and one was rejected on May 25th before the second take was
                  > made on the same day and subsequently deemed fit for release.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > 2009/3/4 David Brown <johnhaleysims@ yahoo.co. uk>
                  >
                  >> ' -- the same thing happened to me when we were recording St Louis
                  >> Blues,
                  >> the recording manager as we were making a test of St Louis Blues yelled at
                  >> me to take a chorus. I didn't know what I was going to play but I took a
                  >> chorus and after the test was over why he told me to keep it in and play it
                  >> exactly as I had played it on the test. So I had him play the test back to
                  >> me to listen to what I had played and then I tried to play it as close as
                  >> possible on the master and so it came out the way you hear it.'
                  >>
                  >> I am surprised that technology in 1921 allowed for so immediate a playback.
                  >> Anybody know ? Also surprising because it is obvious that ODJB solos were
                  >> routined and regurgitated over years.
                  >>
                  >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > ------------ --------- --------- ------
                  >
                  > Yahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  >
                  >

                  Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                  howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                  Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098







                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Howard Rye
                  I¹d say I don¹t know but we are here dealing with artists of a rather different caliber than the ones I had in mind. As I know from having spent a lot of
                  Message 8 of 12 , Mar 4 10:13 AM
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                    I¹d say I don¹t know but we are here dealing with artists of a rather
                    different caliber than the ones I had in mind. As I know from having spent a
                    lot of time trying to annotate differences between alternative takes there
                    are quite a few which don¹t present such obvious differences as these.

                    Armstrong at this stage was clearly not working out his solos in the way
                    suggested by Nick. He took risks on record and sometimes they didn¹t come
                    off. Sometimes revivalists play the solos complete with the fluffs. Record
                    companies got a lot more worried about wasted takes after 1929 and no doubt
                    that influenced practice.


                    on 04/03/2009 17:58, Mordechai Litzman at folke613@... wrote:

                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Sometimes there exists alternate takes from the same recording session, and
                    > with great artists such as Louis Armstrong and Johnny Dodds I take for granted
                    > that their solos will be different on different takes. Would you say that the
                    > two different solos on the alternate takes of Stomp Off, Let's Go by Louis
                    > Armstrong with Erskine Tate's Vendome Orchestra are part of his repertoire or
                    > true improvisations? (Available on RHJA at appr. 2 min)
                    >
                    > ________________________________
                    > From: Howard Rye <howard@...
                    > <mailto:howard%40coppermill.demon.co.uk> >
                    > To: red hot jazz <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
                    > <mailto:RedHotJazz%40yahoogroups.com> >
                    > Sent: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 5:39:55 AM
                    > Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Re: Shields 'St Louis'
                    >
                    > And one might add to this excellent account of realities that after jazz
                    > musicians learned that they were supposed to be improvising they tended to
                    > tell interviewers that that was what they were doing, when in fact they were
                    > often (more often than not?) playing a solo they had previously worked out.
                    > I suspect that for many this was something of a joke against the naivety of
                    > earnest fans.
                    >
                    > on 04/03/2009 10:14, Nick Dellow at nick.dellow@ gmail.com wrote:
                    >
                    >> > This interview, important though it is, is a good example of why we should
                    >> > treat such evidence with caution! This is not to necessarily deny that the
                    >> > excellent solo that Shields played was his own in concept, but just that >>
                    his
                    >> > memory of the circumstances surrounding the recording may have been
                    >> > polished-up somewhat in order to see it through the mists of time! After
                    >> > all, this would not be the first time that a musician had spiced-up a story
                    >> > (though, as you say, Shields is hardly the most loquacious of interviewees!
                    )
                    >> >
                    >> > I cannot envisage any situation in which a recording engineer at Victor
                    >> > would suddenly shout to a musician during the recording "take a chorus",
                    >> > even if the recording was only a "test" for balance. Moreover, whatever one
                    >> > may think of the ODJB in terms of their legitimacy as pioneer jazz artists,
                    >> > they were certainly consummate professionals who had developed their skills
                    >> > playing night after night at various establishments. I would think it
                    >> highly
                    >> > likely that "St Louis Blues" was part of their repertoire long before the
                    >> > Victor session and that Shields had honed his solo well in advance of the
                    >> > recording date. Shields was certainly not unique amongst jazz musicians in
                    >> > this respect ­ Bechet, Hawkins, Bix and many, many others rehearsed the
                    >> > "chordal framework" of their solos in advance of recording sessions, when
                    >> > fluffs meant a ruined master.
                    >> >
                    >> > With regard to playback technology of the time (1921), it is possible to
                    >> > play a wax "master" straight after the recording but in doing so the master
                    >> > is rendered useless due to the destructive nature of the heavily weighted
                    >> > steel needle on the comparatively soft wax.
                    >> >
                    >> > Incidentally, the band made no less than five attempts at producing a
                    >> master
                    >> > for "St Louis Blues" before finally succeeding - four takes were rejected
                    >> on
                    >> > May 3rd, 1921, and one was rejected on May 25th before the second take was
                    >> > made on the same day and subsequently deemed fit for release.
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >> > 2009/3/4 David Brown <johnhaleysims@ yahoo.co. uk>
                    >> >
                    >>> >> ' -- the same thing happened to me when we were recording St Louis
                    >>> >> Blues,
                    >>> >> the recording manager as we were making a test of St Louis Blues yelled
                    at
                    >>> >> me to take a chorus. I didn't know what I was going to play but I took a
                    >>> >> chorus and after the test was over why he told me to keep it in and play
                    it
                    >>> >> exactly as I had played it on the test. So I had him play the test back
                    to
                    >>> >> me to listen to what I had played and then I tried to play it as close as
                    >>> >> possible on the master and so it came out the way you hear it.'
                    >>> >>
                    >>> >> I am surprised that technology in 1921 allowed for so immediate a
                    >>> playback.
                    >>> >> Anybody know ? Also surprising because it is obvious that ODJB solos were
                    >>> >> routined and regurgitated over years.
                    >>> >>
                    >>> >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >>> >>
                    >>> >>
                    >>> >>
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >> > ------------ --------- --------- ------
                    >> >
                    >> > Yahoo! Groups Links
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >
                    > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                    > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                    > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                    >
                    > [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]
                  • Robert Smith
                    Here is an easier way of connecting to David Brown s long link: http://tinyurl.com/c4fvv5 Regards Bob Smith [Non-text portions of this message have been
                    Message 9 of 12 , Mar 4 12:39 PM
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                      Here is an easier way of connecting to David Brown's long link:

                      http://tinyurl.com/c4fvv5

                      Regards

                      Bob Smith


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Gilber M. Erskine
                      Thanks for the link. The Shield s interviewer was Roger Wolfe, a well known disc jockey in New Orleans at that time. I will have to say that anything Wolfe
                      Message 10 of 12 , Mar 4 2:20 PM
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                        Thanks for the link. The Shield's interviewer was Roger Wolfe, a well known disc jockey in New Orleans at that time. I will have to say that anything Wolfe reported would be questionable, and I hope I am not going to be accused of being malicious. Wolfe was personable and had a good radio voice style, but he was hopelessly ignorant of a large part of jazz, especially if it was not by white New Orleans musicians. I remember being astounded when he could not even identify clarinetist Pee Wee Russell on a well known record.
                        ---------------GILBERT M. ERSKINE
                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: Robert Smith
                        To: RedHotJazz
                        Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 3:39 PM
                        Subject: [RedHotJazz] Shields 'St Louis'


                        Here is an easier way of connecting to David Brown's long link:

                        http://tinyurl.com/c4fvv5

                        Regards

                        Bob Smith

                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





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                      • David Brown
                        Nick does confirm a rejected take on 25 May making it possible that this was played back to Shields, or even a pressing from the previous abortive attempt, but
                        Message 11 of 12 , Mar 5 1:39 AM
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                          Nick does confirm a rejected take on 25 May making it possible that this was
                          played back to Shields, or even a pressing from the previous abortive
                          attempt, but I am healthily sceptical. Shields in interview comes over
                          exactly as previously envisaged, unassertive and very eager to please.

                          My best guess now is that at least parts of the solo were pre-existent in
                          N.O. clarinet blues repertoire but that chronology excludes specific
                          standardisation on 'St Louis'. But Shields record was certainly heard back
                          in N.O. which resulted in even greater standardisation of form and
                          limitation to 'St Louis'. Shields claim to genuine authorship is most
                          undermined by the fact that there is almost nothing similar in his oeuvre.

                          From Fraser we heard from Willie Humphrey and I note that Willie, as late as
                          1977, was still playing the standard Shields breaks on 'Tiger Rag' which
                          Bigard later elaborated with Ellington. We know that the themes of 'Tiger
                          Rag' were well pre-existent in N.O. repertoire under other names so maybe
                          this is another case of Shields borrowing and standardising.



                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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