“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.

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“I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music” – Gene Krupa’s Swing Band (1936)

Victor; Chicago, February 29, 1936: Roy Eldridge-t/Benny Goodman-cl/Chu Berry-ts/Jess Stacy-p/Allan Reuss-g/Israel Crosby-b/Gene Krupa-d.

Chu Berry on tenor sax–and what a sound!

I’ve heard both vocal and various instrumental versions of this song and this take is by far my favorite. Even Benny Goodman is groovin’ as he lets out a squawk or two during his clarinet run.

Gene Krupa generously gives up the first solo slot and and almost a fifth of the song (0:42-1:16) for that unmistakable and distinctive buttery sax sound of Chu Berry as he could have easily used up that time to showcase his own drum work.

rab_bud_chu

(Left-Bud Freeman-ts/Center-Johnny Hodges-as/Right-Chu Berry-ts)

Photo source; date unknown.

 

“Lazy Bug” – Charlie Barnet And His Orchestra (1939)

Bluebird; New York, May 8, 1939: Charlie Barnet-ss-as-ts-dir/John Owens-Bob Burnet-Johnny Mendell-John Owens-t/Ben Hall-Don Ruppersberg-Bill Robertson-tb/Kurt Bloom-Gene Kinsey-as/Don McCook-James Lamare-ts/Bill Miller-p/Bus Etri-g/Phil Stevens-b/Wesley Dean-d.

Here’s an atmospheric number from Charlie Barnet which was recorded a year after his 1938 hit “Cherokee.”

If the song evokes film noir imagery of something, or someone, lurking around the corner or hiding within dark shadows, well there is … a new decade, the 1940s, is approaching and, additionally, WWII is now deeply underway with its “Axis of Evil” waiting to infiltrate and strike from within. Keep your eyes and ears open–don’t be a Lazy Bug!

watching

Poster design by Glenn Grohe, ca. 1942.

“Laughing At Life” – Kansas City Five (1938)

Commodore; New York, March 18, 1938: Buck Clayton-t/Eddie Durham-el.g/Freddy Green-g/Walter Page-sb/Jo Jones-d.

durham_eddie

Eddie Durham recording with Lester Young and the
Kansas City Six, 1938. Durham, a native of San Marcos,
Texas, pioneered the use of an amplified guitar in jazz.
Courtesy Alan Govenar, Documentary Arts, Dallas.
Photo and quote source.
During 1936, two years prior to this recording, Gibson introduced their first “Electric Spanish” model guitar. And In 1968, 40 years after this recording, Led Zeppelin were formed.
Here’s Eddie Durham doing his part to validate the electric guitar as a legitimate and serious lead jazz instrument capable of all of the variances and expressions that a brass or woodwind instrument would contribute to the orchestra or group.
Buck Clayton holding his own on the trumpet.

“The Way You Look Tonight” – Teddy Wilson And His Orchestra (1936)

Brunswick; New York, October 21, 1936: Irving Randolph-t/Vido Musso-cl/Ben Webster-ts/Teddy Wilson-p/Allen Reuss-g/Milton Hinton-sb/Gene Krupa-d/Billie Holiday-v.

Jumpin_Teddy

Theodore “Teddy” Wilson; New York 1937. Photo courtesy hororecords.blogspot

It’s my birthday week so I’m picking one of my favorites from Teddy Wilson’s 1930s Brunswick sessions.

This track features Billie Holiday on vocals, sans the familiar Lester Young pairing.

But in this take, Ben Webster’s full tenor-sax sound proves more appropriate.

Webster produces just the right softness and tranquility that complements Billie’s slightly rougher, and slightly tipsy vocal phrasing, allowing her to convey imagery that is honest and believable.

Plus, Vido Musso, later known as a tenor sax powerhouse of the Stan Kenton Orchestra, sets the opening verse by delivering a delicate, almost innocent, clarinet solo that wouldn’t have been as effective if a brass instrument was used in its place.

I love the sincerity and ease of Billie’s delivery, and the subtle, sparse, and almost reflective and reassuring trio of piano-bass-drums verse that appears after the slightly nervous sounding trumpet solo by Irving Randolph.

The song swings, but at the same time the rhythm is methodical, effortless and delicate. The swing movement, set by Teddy Wilson but maintained by Gene Krupa, is crisp and steady but carefully avoids being jaunty or danceable.

The listener is first introduced to the song through a short, simple and curt piano melody comprised of singular, individually played notes–a melody that is distant yet captivating. Over time, and ever so slightly, those singular introductory notes mature to an orchestral ending that is uplifting, confident and harmonious.

This song is really one of my favorites and with every listen, never fails to be captivating and engaging.

“Sent For You Yesterday” – Benny Goodman And His Orchestra (1939)

Victor; New York, February 1, 1939: Benny Goodman-cl-dir/Irving Goodman-Ziggy Elman-Gordon Griffin-t/Red Ballard-Vernon Brown-tb/Hymie Schertzer-Noni Bernardi-as/Arthur Rollini-Jerry Jerome-ts/Jess Stacy-p/Ben Heller-g/Harry Goodman-b/Buddy Schutz-d/Johnny Mercer-v.

Johnny_Mercer,_New_York,_N.Y.,_between_1946_and_1948_(William_P._Gottlieb_06121)

Johnny Mercer, New York, N.Y., between 1946 and 1948 (Photograph by William P. Gottlieb)

Johnny Mercer, Benny Goodman’s vocalist on this track, wrote the lyrics to an estimated 1,500 songs. But he didn’t write this one!

Composed in 1938 by Jimmy Rushing (vocals), Count Basie (piano), and Eddie Durham (guitar). No wonder this song grooves! –it’s a Count Basie number.

Ziggy Elman takes his trumpet solo at 1:49-2:14.

Don’t the moon look lonesome
Shining through the tree?
Don’t the moon look lonesome
Shining through the tree?

Don’t your arms look lonesome
When your baby’s packed to leave?
Sent for you yesterday
Here you come today, today

Sent for you yesterday
Here you come today
If you can’t do better
Might as well just stay away

“Good Old Bosom Bread” – Hot Lips Page And His Band (1938)

Decca; New York, March 10, 1938: Hot Lips Page-t-v/Ben Smith-cl-as/Sam Simmons-ts/Jimmy Reynolds-p/Connie Wainwright-g/Wellman Braud-sb/Alfred Taylor-d.

JazzImage_pg020_480

le saxophoniqte soprano Sidney Bechet et Oran “Hot Lips” Page au Jimmy Ryan, New Yok, 1942.
© Charles Peterson.

Photo source:

Sidney Bechet (left) never gave a performance that was less than “110%.” The younger “Hot Lips” Page looks like he’s learning a thing or two from the old man. The song featured today came out four years prior to this photo (sans Sidney Bechet).

Featured below, for contrast and comparison, is the original version of “Good Old Bosom Bread,” which was written by the pianist and leader, Chick Finney, and performed by the Original St. Louis Crackerjacks.

Another fantastic example of this hard swingin’ band from St. Louis. This song was recorded for Decca in 1936 along with other great tunes, including “Good Old Bosom Bread,” “Fussin’,” and “Swing Jackson.” Personnel: Elmer Ming, George Smith, Levi Madison, trumpets; Robert Scott, Walter Martin, Freddie Martine, Chick Franklin, reeds; Chick Finney, piano; William “Bede” Baskerville, guitar; Kermit Hayes, bass; Nicholas Haywood, drums.

A Youtube repost.