|Burning up the keys: Johnny Gaurnieri accompanied by drummer Sam Weiss and "singing bass" player Slam Stewart. Gaurnieri was the consummate session man in the mid-'40s but this is one of the few recordings he made under his own name. Photo by Gems|
Old technology tends to pile up around the Gems household. Particularly when the venerable technology is in the form of shellac platters. I've been meaning to upload dubs of some of Gems' hundreds of 78-rpm recordings for a while, and finally some spare time has arrived with the end of summer. So here's hodgepodge of interesting stuff, some of it extremely rare, some available on compilations, but all of it great jazz of the pianistic variety.
Leading off the program is Hazel Meyers, a little-known singer who had a career primarily on the Vaudeville stage. But here she sings some topical blues in a convincing manner, with the great Fletcher Henderson accompanying. Of special interest on these performances are the excellent muted cornet fills by the legendary Joe Smith, a musician whose work with Bessie Smith we all know.
There's also Duke Ellington and the boys doing "St. Louis Blues" on a 12-inch Columbia disc. Nothing too unusual about that, except that the vocalist is a crooner named Bing Crosby. I had no idea the Duke and Bing ever got together, but here's the evidence (and Bing scats a chorus just to prove he's no square as the piece closes).
Clarence Profit was a New York swing pianist who spent some time in the Caribbean. He's all but unknown today, but in the '30s and early '40s he was thought of in the same class as Teddy Wilson. He recorded this date for Decca in 1940, four years before his death at age 32.
The Joe Bushkin date features a young Zoot Sims on tenor. If you're a drinker, don't miss Johnny Gaurnieri's "Hangover" – it'll give you a hangover just listening. Herman Chittison was another talented swing player who fell through the historical cracks. He recorded a number of well-received 10-inch albums for Columbia in the '50s, but this is one of his earliest dates. Continuing with obscure pianists, Cyril Haynes was completely unknown to me when I came upon his Comet recording. He worked mostly in New York and was with the Savoy Sultans for a time, but here he's joined by Dick Vance from Andy Kirk's band and the great Don Byas.
Pat Flowers was a Fats Waller devotee, even recruiting some of Fats' original band members after Waller passed. Flowers is usually dismissed as an imitator, but he sounds good to me on this Majestic date. Hazel Scott reprises her spot in the movie "Rhapsody in Blue" with a bit of nice piano and a stiffish vocal on a Gershwin classic (the movie was about George's rise to fame).
Avery Parrish, Erskine Hawkins' pianist, revisits his hit "After Hours" on a Dud Bascomb selection (Bascomb was also in the Hawkins band), and we get to hear Earl Hines leading a thoroughly modern-sounding big band on a rare ARA recording. Erroll Garner plays his inimitable style on a couple of tunes on the virtually unknown Acorn label.
Count Basie's up next with a couple of sides done for Norman Granz. These have been reissued, but I've included them because they're so tasty I couldn't resist. Finally, it's the Lion with a blues and a chestnut, swinging hard in post-stride fashion. His is the only record I've ever seen on the Blue Circle label.
Speaking of labels, here's a sampling:
As always, these files were dubbed from the originals with just a minimum of cleaning and editing. So be prepared for surface hiss and slight pops and clicks. If you can tolerate that, I think you'll really enjoy these long-lost treasures.
Piano Rareties, 1923-1953
Various artists, labels
Hazel Meyers, v; Fletcher Henderson, p; Joe Smith, cornet.
New York, NY; October 30, 1923; Vocalion 14709
1. Awful Moanin' Blues
2. He's Never Gonna Throw Me Down
Duke Ellington Orchestra w/Whetsol, Williams, Nanton, Tizol, Brown, Bigard, Hodges, Guy, Braud, Greer, plus Bing Crosby, v.
New York, NY; February 11, 1932; Columbia 55003
3. St. Louis Blues
Clarence Profit, p; Jimmy Shirley, g; Ben Brown, d.
New York, NY; September 11, 1940; Decca 8527
4. Dark Eyes
Joe Bushkin, p; Ernie Figueroa, tp, Bill Harris, tbn; Jack Sims, ts; Sid Weiss, b; Specs Powell, d.
New York, NY; May 1944; Commodore 511
6. Oh, Lady Be Good
7. Fade Out
Johnny Guarnieri, p; Slam Stewart, b; Sammy Weiss, d.
New York, NY; November 7, 1944; Savoy 554, 555
8. Firebird (Guarnieri)
9. Hangover (Big Head) (Guarnieri)
10. That Old Black Magic
11. I'm in the Mood for Love
Herman Chittison, p; Jimmy Shirley, g; Carlton Powell, b.
New York, NY; December 8, 1944; Musicraft 315
12. How High the Moon
13. The Song Is Ended
Cyril Haynes, p; Dick Vance, tp; Don Byas, ts; Al Casey, g; John Levy, b; Harold West, d.
New York, NY; 1944; Comet T5
14. Across the Road (Haynes)
15. Cedar Manor (Haynes)
Pat Flowers, p; unknown b, d.
New York, NY; late 1940s (?); Majestic 1010
16. Ain't Misbehavin'
17. Original Blues (Flowers)
Hazel Scott, p, v; orchestra cond. by Toots Camarata, from Warner Bros. movie "Rhapsody in Blue"
New York, NY; May 3, 1945; Decca 23429
18. Fascinating Rhythm
Avery Parrish, p; Dud Bascomb, tp; Paul Bascomb, ts; Tiny Grimes, g; John Simmons, b; Sid Catlett, d.
New York, NY; 1946; Alert 102
19. After Hours
Earl Hines, p; orchestra including Benny Green, Scoops Carey, Wardell Gray, Kermit Scott
Los Angeles, CA; April 1946; ARA 156
20. Straight Life
Erroll Garner, p; Pat Simmons, b; Alvin Stoller, d.
Los Angeles, CA; March 29, 1949; Acorn 305
21. I Want a Little Girl
22. This Can't Be Love
Count Basie, org; Joe Newman, tp; Paul Quinichette, ts; Freddy Green, g; Gene Ramey, b; Buddy Rich, d.
New York, NY; December 13, 1952; Clef 89102
23. KC Blues
24. Stan Shorthair
Willie "The Lion" Smith, p; Harry Goodwin, tp; Jimmy Archey, tbn; Cecil Scott, ts; Pops Foster, b; William Purnell, d; Myra Johnson, v.
New York, NY; August 15, 1953; Blue Circle 500
25. When the Saints Go Marching In
26. The Lion Steps Out
Find it here: https://www.mediafire.com/?cb8clc1bu48q7ze