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The Battle of the Bands

Anyone who saw last night’s Battle of the Bands on BBC 4 was treated to the rare sight of two full bands replicating the original Count Basie and Duke Ellington Bands at the Royal Albert Hall. By the look and sound of it, all those lucky enough to present had an amazing evening.

I admit to a personal interest in watching as my nephew was playing in the Ellington Band, and the reason for the piece is he was playing Baritone sax in reprising the Harry Carney role in Ellington’s Orchestra.

The Baritone sax is an impressive instrument in size alone, but few mastered it as a solo instrument. Harry Carney certainly did and this piece is probably the most famous solo ever played on the instrument.

Other protagonists that mastered the “big” sax were Gerry Mulligan who also brokered the “cool jazz” of the West Coast and Jimmy Giuffre , there were others as I’m sure JD will remind me, but few were memorable as soloists.…

The Jazz Solo

We’ve just heard Bix’s lovely 1924 cornet solo on Royal Garden Blues, and one of his piano solos too. But early recordings of jazz bands contain no solos, so where did the idea come from?

The first recorded solo would seem to be on an ODJB (natch?) recording, their 1921 St Louis Blues. The perpetrator is Larry Shields on clarinet.

I dunno about you, but that didn’t sound to me like a musician playing in an established tradition, with models to follow; I thought it showed the awkwardness of innovation.

You might just about say that the NORK’s Leon Roppolo (spellings vary), again on clarinet, solo’d on Farewell Blues (added to which I love their rhythm on this number): 29/08/1922

He certainly did the next day on their Tiger Rag of 30/08/1922.

Here too is his low register effort on Panama on the same date.

Ropollo, you might reasonably argue, thereby became the first established jazz soloist on record.…

A day at the seaside

A female is, after all, just a person like us, sore feet, sniffling with a cold, two arms, two legs, two ears, two eyes – then if that’s so, why can’t we resist taking such into our arms?

In a similar way, this in the pic below was just a time in history, as ours is, with good parts and bad parts. I appreciate our medicines today [but not the big pharma solution].

A time which was

So why does that scene move some of us so much? Taken from Dearieme’s post later, specifically Land of Cotton Blues, is it the seaside? The pier, the chairs set out on the right on that apron, the formality of the dress – I’d adore that dress code again, with ladies and gentlemen strolling along the seaside promenade.

It really transports me, that scene, which is partly why the early 1900s was my field of study and why I’ve tried to combine some of that, particularly shutters over windows with paint detailing, riverboat look or ferry look to the craft.…

Rod the Mod

I like Rod Stewart’s music. It is probably not ‘fashionable’ to like it but I do. That might be because he strikes me as having maintained his sanity in the notoriously ‘mad’ world of showbiz. And maintaining that sanity seems to have come from his roots, his background, his family and mainly from his father.
This song has a wonderful tribute to his dad in the ‘middle eight’ and it resonates with me because I felt the same way about my father, especially that last line! :)

“Thanks for the faith
thanks for the patience
thanks for the helping hand
thaks for the love
thanks for the guidance
thanks for the Tartan pride”

Not the greatest songwriter in the world but he does have a knack of writing very infectious singalong songs. I like singing along to singalong songs (this co-written with Ronnie Wood, also in the video playing guitar)

Back to fathers: this is a Cat Stevens song and is about the relationship between fathers and sons, sometimes a strained relationship but we all need fathers.…

Early topnotch bands 4: The Wolverines

And, lo, came there from the west a band that in clubs and verily in dance-halls did play, and excited, yay, the very students on campuses. In their youth had the musicians listened to the ODJB records, to the finest effect. Yclept were they The Wolverines. Fidgety Feet had they.

So another band had made the pilgrimage to Richmond Indiana to make their first recording, in that case on 18/02/1924. They were not Noo Awlins men, so you get less ensemble playing, more soloing – as in Bix’s “flighted” twelve bars of cornet starting at about 1:02 on Royal Garden Blues.

Mr Beiderbecke also played the joanna. Here he is after the sax solo on Big Boy.

The critics are prone to dismiss the rest of the band as duds, whereas I think they support him very decently. We can’t all be bleeding’ geniuses. Not even on I Need Some Pettin’.…