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Re: [RedHotJazz] Re: Shields 'St Louis'

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 of 12 , Mar 4, 2009
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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 6 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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