Repost: a COUNT, a PRES & a MILLER —————– AN UNFAIR PLAYLIST

Preface:

This is an old article from my former blog Bruno Leicht Presents His Old & New Swingin’ Dreams. — Since a friend has sent me this funny excerpt of a score in D-Flat this morning, and since “One O’Clock Jump” switches keys from F to D-Flat, I took the opportunity for a repost.

That key-change is even harder: From D to G-Flat which has – according to one of my trumpet students – “six enemies”, meaning six flats … Okay, it would be A-Flat for B-instruments, which is still quite a “bitch” of a key😉

Enjoy!Play without bitching about the key…

Here comes the unaltered original article:

This is quite brutal, I know. Anyway, I have to confront these three guys, all most successful, and highly influential, but each of them in their own way of course:

William “Count” Basie, Lester Young aka “The President of the Tenor Sax”, and … Glenn Miller.

The first broke with the then common swing formula, and opened the sound of jazz up to the modern jazz styles of the post war period.

The man in the middle revolutionized not only the way of playing the saxophone, he changed also the whole language of jazz for any instrumentalist, be it technically, musically, or verbally.

The latter doesn’t seem to fit in here, though he was a deep admirer of the first man. His influence on jazz is more a subversive one, if the reader will allow me to use this political expression for describing a perfectly shaped (jazz?) orchestral sound. With “subversive” I mean, Glenn’s influence on jazz is not too obvious.

Anyway, when a young jazz musician wants to know the exact melody of any standard – and Mr. Miller played loads of them! – he has to listen to the Glenn Miller Orchestra: They played the tunes as they were written.

What follows below, is only superficially an “unfair” playlist because it has its certain charm. As you might notice, did Mr. Miller quite a good job on the Count’s theme One O’Clock Jump, didn’t he? Both live versions here, one from 1939, the other from 1940. Chummy McGregor boogies the introduction in F-major, the piano style he could do best, Tex Beneke took the tenor solos, Clyde Hurley is on trumpet, and Maurice Purtill drives the jump towards one o’clock and beyond.

I have included “Every Tub” because it gives me the chance to post not just the famous studio version, but also a very rare live rendition. Added to this, I proudly present my comment on that very chart I have left at Doug Ramsey’s Rifftides where he posted a YouTube video with “Ev’ry Tub”, which you will find HERE.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Doug!

This is the pure joy of swing, happy music, it’s a classic. Beside all what’s ingenious at this particular recording, how solos and arrangement go hand in hand, almost as there would have been just this way how it was working out best … besides all that, is there a very, very short moment, a funny one which always strikes me when I’m listening to this track:

Just a glimpse before minute 3:24 there is this trombone sound, almost like a human voice which seems to burst out for joy, and exaltation. It may have been a “wrong” cue, but to me it sounds like “hoo!”, like: “Yeah! We made it! We are the happiest band in the land!”

A happy orchestra, with one of the most tragic figures in jazz: Lester Young, who had clearly one of the most creative moments here, and in the recorded history of jazz at all.

Alone the introduction to the piece, and the following solo includes all ingredients which made Pres the father of the modern tenor sax:

Relaxed, bouncy phrasing, his false fingering technique (what my late teacher, and mentor Hans Jesse called the “honk-sound”), and the unique lines (not ‘cool’ at all, by the way!) have impressed and influenced so many other tenorists during the 1940’s that Lester rubbed his eyes in bewilderment, saying he felt like walking around, surrounded by mirrors.

Also “Sweets” Edison’s trumpet solo: This is early modern style. There are some phrases you would find in Lee Morgan’s solos 20 years later. Especially the short fill-in of the trumpet (3:00) sounds like Lee at “Sidewinder”.

And then comes the undeservedly neglected one, always the 2nd mentioned after the President; and that is Herschel Evans, the ever jumping counterpoint to Lester Young, like it was German decathlete Juergen Hingsen to the Briton Daley Thompson: One couldn’t exist without the other.

Alas, Herschel died too early, which must have been quite a shock to Lester who certainly missed the beloved tenor battles, and the little, funny arguments between the two: “Hey, Pres, why don’t you play the alto sax? You have an alto sound.” And Lester called him (as he called anybody) ‘Lady’ Herschel.

And the Count? He directed that bunch of creative individuals with his right little finger: Ping, but with what a swing!

I forgot to mention “The All-American Rhythm Section”:

Freddie Green, Walter Page and ‘Papa’ Jo Jones. What a tremendous job the three men did here, and on all these Kansas City jump tunes. They made most others sound like amateurs. Often copied, seldom achieved, as is a famous German saying.

Glenn Miller, one of the most desperate band leaders regarding his rhythm boys, often nodded his head in amazement, and asked his friends and colleagues: “Why can’t WE swing like that?!” (Some tried to tell him … but alas, he didn’t listen.)

Jimmy Van Heusen’s and Johnny Burke’s Polka, Dots And Moonbeams is one of my favorite standards, and I’m presenting it here in two versions which couldn’t differ more. Here we have the super-smooth Miller aggregation from 1940 who played it a bit too fast for my taste, with boy singer Ray Eberle whom was explicitly told by Mr. Miller: “Hey Jim! Sing the notes as they’re written.” That’s one of the reasons why Ray never had a real chance, and why he started to drink, and why he became more and more unreliable to the strict rehearsal schedule of his boss.

But let’s give Mr. Eberle a chance to tell his story, recorded at a concert in 1960/61:

Ray Reminisces

And there is the other rendition, from a concert at Newport in 1957, which doesn’t need any introductions or explanations, but: Sheer beauty, “Pres” in his later years, fragile, tender, and … free.

Why for heaven’s sake John Hammond has to yell in Papa Jo’s name is incomprehensible to us listeners. It’s always a shock for me when he jumps in there, right when Lester started to breath life into his sweet dream of a polka, dotted with moonbeams (rather surreal, huh?).

The Count’s famous theme One O’Clock Jump, at first taken from a broadcast from the “Meadowbrook Ball Room” in November 1937, has opened this playlist, and it shall be the perfect closer too. This is an extended (spliced?) version, originally finishing a radio broadcast from New York’s “Famous Door”, in July 1938.

I hope there won’t be any questions left now.

Swingingly yours truly,

Brew

PLAYLIST: MORE THAN ONE’CLOCK JUMP

A P.S. from the Count Basie Octet.

Here’s what YouTuber mcfunkyfreshhh tells us about this video:

Count Basie, piano; Wardell Gray, tenor sax; Buddy DeFranco, clarinet; Clark Terry, trumpet; Freddie Green, guitar; Jimmy Lewis, bass; Gus Johnson, drums, from the film, “Rhythm and Blues Review,” October 1950
Swing Bless You!
According to mikeao54 the original name of this tune was Blue Balls!!!😛

Swing bless you too, Mr. McFunkyFreshhh! Blog owner’s note: The guy is gone, but the video is still there.

— A basic P.S. by Basie:

…and a boppin’ one by Billy Taylor:

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