“It’s Been So Long” – Edmond Hall’s Swingtet (1944)

Blue Note; New York, May 5, 1944: Benny Morton-tb/Edmond Hall-cl/Harry Carney-bar/Don Frye-p/Everett Barksdale-g/Alvin Raglin-b/Sidney Catlett-d.

A something in a summer‘s noon – A depth – an Azure – a perfume – Transcending ecstasy. — Emily Dickinson

From the poem: A Something In A Summer’s Day.

It’s not quite summer yet, but this song, this poem and the promising weather here in Seattle today seem to just fit together nicely.

“Wild Cat Blues” – Clarence Williams’ Blue Five (1923)

Okeh; New York, July 30, 1923: Thomas Morris-c/John Mayfield-tb/Sidney Bechet-ss/Clarence Williams-p/Buddy Christian-bj.

 

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Sidney Bechet; New York, 1947: Photo source.

Sidney Bechet–the man behind that visceral, growling, vibrato sound of the soprano sax.

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Sidney Bechet; 1939: Photo/film clip from the Guardian.

 

 

” A Monday Date” – Earl Hines solo (1928)

Q.R.S.; Long Island City, December 8, 1928: piano solo.

I don’t know anything specific about the Q.R.S record label but according to them, their “PRODUCTS are Better.”

I agree, that if you have Earl Hines on your label, your product is better!

Link to a 10 minute YouTube video clip with Earl Hines explaining his influences and demonstrating his signature “trumpet style” here. I think the clip’s been pulled from an episode of “Jazz Casual.” If you enjoy the piano style of Earl Hines, it’s definitely worth watching and hearing him speak about early jazz and his development.

“The All Night Record Man” – Charlie Barnet And His Orchestra (1939)

Bluebird; New York, July 17, 1939: Charlie Barnet-ss-as-ts-dir/J. Owens-B. Burnet-B. May-t/B. Hall-D. Ruppersberg-B. Robertson-tb/K. Bloom-G. Kinsey-as/D. McCook-J. Lamare-ts/B. Miller-p/B. Etri-g/P. Stevens-b/R. Michaels-d/Charlie Barnet-Judy Ellington-v.

The prefix “meta” comes from Ancient Greek, meaning “in the middle” or, rather, transcending or encompassing. Therefore, the term “metapoem” describes a poem that is about poetry itself. A metapoem is a literary technique and has a certain effect upon the reader.

But now that I’m writing this, I can’t recall from my English major if the literary technique needs to be blatant and clear or if it can be covert and hidden, as in the poem “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich.

In the poem, the shipwreck represents the current state of poetry, all of its history leading up to the wreck, the diver as the modern poet, and the responsibility of that poet to find new ways of expressing the modern, while also at the same time incorporating and preserving what has come before: “There is a ladder. The ladder is always there … We know what it is for, we who have used it.”

Either way, here’s a jazz side with no hidden meaning and one that features the singing attempt of no other than Charlie Barnet himself. And as an extra bonus, it’s a jazz side which is about the broadcasting and the listening of jazz, so I guess it counts as a type of jazz “metasong.”

Readers may remember the 1974 top-40 rock song single “Clap for the Wolfman” by the Canadian band The Guess Who, with their tribute to the influential disc jockey, Wolfman Jack–also a type of metasong.

“Louisiana” – Paul Whiteman And His Orchestra w/Bix (1928)

Victor; New York, April 23, 1928: Paul Whiteman-dir/Henry Busse-Charlie Margulis-Eddie Pinter-t/Bix Beiderbecke-c/Jack Fulton-tb-v/Boyce Cullen-Wilbur Hall-Bill Rank-tb/Izzy Friedman-cl-as-ts/Rube Crozier-cl-ss-as-bsn/Chester Hazlett-cl-bcl-ss-as/Frank Trumbauer-Cm-ss/Charles Strickfaden-cl-as-ts-bar/Red Mayer-cl-ts/Kurt Dieterle-Mischa Russell-Mario Perry-Matt Malneck-John Bowman-vn/Charles Gaylord-vn-v/Roy Bargy-Lennie Hayton-p/Mike Pingitore-bj/Min Leibrook-bb-bsx/Mike Trafficante-b/Harold McDonald-d/Bill Challis-d.

Bing Crosby-Jack Fulton-Charles Gaylord-Austin Young-vocals.

Arranged by Bill Challis. Worked into shape by Paul Whiteman.

I’ve never been to Louisiana and maybe the song is really about a girl anyway. But even after 50 listenings or so, I still find myself getting lost in the nuances and details of the arrangement.

Everyone in Whiteman’s band had to play their part straight except for Bix. Paul Whiteman would give him eight bars or so and let him be creative. Bix couldn’t read or write music and even found it difficult playing the same cornet riff twice with the same emotion and tambour

Many of the members in the orchestra, especially the established ones, resented Whiteman’s “favoritism” in allowing the young Bix such creative freedom and as a result, Bix never really was able to fit in fully with the other members of the ensemble.

This should have marked the apex of his career, as there was no greater honor at the time than to be asked to join Paul Whiteman’s orchestra.

But perhaps joining Whiteman’s orchestra, and confronting all of the challenges and demands that came with a touring, entertaining and professional organization, proved detrimental to his psychological and physical health–as seen with his decline into his alcoholism, of which he ultimately died from, three years later. Rejection and isolation seem to be a recurring themes in the story of Bix. 

“Yes! I’m In The Barrel” – Louis Armstrong And His Hot Five (1925)

Okeh; Chicago, November 12, 1925: Armstrong-c/Kid Ory-tb/Johnny Dodds-cl/Lil Armstrong-p/Johnny St. Cyr-bj.

The “Hot Five” never played live in public. Louis Armstrong was playing with Fletcher Henderson (1924–11/1925) in New York when the opportunity to record sides with Okeh came up. According to Armstrong, he’d just “get together the band,” and worked on a few ideas beforehand and then played the songs live and unrehearsed and “made up them things.” (Jazz Casual episode 01-23-1963 with Ralph Gleason). The naming of the songs was even an afterthought.

“Yes! I’m in the Barrel” was the second song pressed from the first “Hot Five” sessions. I think it was fitting to have “My Heart,” written by Lil Armstrong as the first pressed single. I don’t know too many specifics about Louis Armstrong’s career without looking them up, but I do know that without Lil, we wouldn’t have had Louis Armstrong as we know him today.

Below is another “first” from a strong-willed lady, Annie Edson Taylor, who, like Lil, also got screwed over by a man.

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Photo source.

Annie Edson Taylor, in 1901, was the first person to successfully make it over Niagara Falls while inside a barrel.

“She earned fame, but not fortune. Her manager ran off with her precious barrel and sold it to a theatre in Chicago that was staging a play based on her exploits. Taylor hired a lawyer to reclaim it, and the lawsuit consumed what little money she had earned lecturing about her adventure. It was ten years before anyone else would be brave enough to attempt the barrel ride, but in the decade of her monopoly Taylor proved too dour and serious for the hyperbolic world of sideshows. The “Heroine of Horseshoe Falls,” as Taylor styled herself, died in poverty, having eked out a meager living by allowing tourists to have themselves photographed alongside her with a replica barrel; her grave doesn’t record the date of her death or birth—only of her stunt.” 

Read more about Annie Taylor, which includes the above quote–here.

“Original Charleston Strut” – Thomas Morris Past Jazz Masters (1923)

Okeh; New York, February, 1923: Thomas Morris-Bubber Miley-c/Charlie Irvis-tb/unknown-ts-p-bj-d.

I’m not sure if Thomas Morris envisioned people doing the Charleston dance to this Charleston “strut” since this tune was recorded several months prior to the “Charleston” dance craze of late 1923. In other words, I’m not sure if the dance was even popular prior to the Broadway hit which exposed it.

And now that I’m thinking about it, is the act of strutting the same as the act of dancing anyway? I wouldn’t think so, but maybe it’s just semantics.

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“A primitive but often effective cornet soloist, Thomas Morris (the uncle of pianist Marlowe Morris) made quite a few records during the 1923-27 period although his style was considered quite dated after the rise of Louis ArmstrongMorris was based in New York from the beginning of the 1920s. He recorded with his Past Jazz Masters (eight titles during 1923) and his Hot Babies (ten songs plus nine alternate takes that comprise the best work of his career), Clarence WilliamsCharlie Johnson (1927), Fats Waller (1927) and many blues singers. However, Morris slipped away into obscurity in the 1930s. He worked as a red cap at Grand Central Station in the late 1930s and then became religious, re-emerging as Brother Pierre in Father Divine’s religious sect shortly before he passed away.” —Artist Biography by Scott Yanow

Photo of Thomas Morris and quote source.