Re: Early band pianists and Miss Lil
- --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "David W. Littlefield" <dwlit@...> wrote:
> I would note that the pianist's fundamental role in our favorite
> music is *rhythm*; depending on the style/tune being played, driving
> the band. It doesn't take an outstanding pianist to do the job. Of
> course appropriately played extras are nice to have, but as long as
> the rhythm and chords are good, the pianist has earned his/her keep.
> At 01:27 PM 6/18/2009, Robert R. Calder wrote:
> >I suppose it was a little more complex than mere reproduction speed,
> >just a matter of compensation for what the supervisor(s) of sessions
> >supposed would not get recorded and what would be further stifled by
> >the apparatus of musical reproduction. Lil was a schooled though
> >hardly conservatory pianist and transcriber-copyist drafted in, in
> >various respects her musical background was probably not so
> >different from white players, or East Coast players of any hue, or
> >even New Orleanians before Blue Heat was activated .
> >She was a dance band anchor such as I suppose there were from
> >Shreveport to Sarajevo to Shetland, just differing according to the
> >music they had to bottom. But she digs in rather than plodding, to
> >get rhythmic attack -- and her compensating for recording balance
> >thickened the sound actually recorded. She has a nice easy swing on
> >the numerous recordings she made as a blues accompanist for Decca in
> >the later 1930s.
> >There was general agreement that the best pianist in New Orleans was
> >Steve J. Lewis, who seems to have had some command of dynamics,
> >judging from the few snatches audible on accompaniments and band
> >numbers, but he doesn't get many openings on the Piron sides on
> >which he was pianist. Probably the important thing with Morton was
> >the characteristic which has had some people deny he was that much
> >of a pianist, the concentration probably learned from unschooled
> >players heard on his travels, on putting rhythm first.
> >Clarence Williams wasn't much of a pianist, Morton's great pianistic
> >achievement was his working out of how to be both strongly idiomatic
> >and have a considerable range.
> >The problem with Luis Russell is that he was an exceptionally
> >competent pianist who could play pretty well anything, and also
> >orthodoxly schooled. He played with a straight or legit fingering,
> >and the result was always something analogous to French spoken with
> >an English accent. The very opposite of Morton.
> >Richard M. Jones was not much of a pianist indeed. John Robichaux is
> >better, but he had Morton records to imitate, presumably also Earl Hines.
> >I suppose if pianists were very competent they'd be more likely to
> >work solo, and that given the limited audibility of Steve Lewis on
> >the Piron sides there just wasn't much of a place for pianists in
> >New Orleans band music other than as interior engines.
> >The string bassists of course made a huge difference. Ellington
> >needed Wellman Braud, Milt Hinton needed John Lindsay, Morton had
> >to be a genius to achieve what he did whether on piano or orchestration.
>Rhythm from a pianist is fine, but if he/she plays wrong chords he/she will soon be belted of the stand. Only a musician's view, of course.