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Re: Shields 'St Louis'

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  • 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 1 of 12 , Mar 3, 2009
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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 2 of 12 , Mar 4, 2009
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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 3 of 12 , Mar 4, 2009
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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 4 of 12 , Mar 4, 2009
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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 5 of 12 , Mar 4, 2009
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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 6 of 12 , Mar 4, 2009
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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 7 of 12 , Mar 4, 2009
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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 8 of 12 , Mar 4, 2009
                  • 0 Attachment
                    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 9 of 12 , Mar 5, 2009
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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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