In the 1950s, there was fierce controversy among jazz fans, over whether you liked modern jazz or Dixieland. Unfortunately, the question was never, if you liked to dance or not. Of course a lot of people actually liked both, but somehow, over time, the modern fans won. They convinced everyone, that modern jazz was for the smart progressive people, and trad jazz was for the conservative dummies. When the snobs declared jazz an academic art form, and made everybody sit down, they killed it.
Today, the swing dancing scene has embraced trad jazz. Sometimes, jazz musicians see their audience dance to their music again, for the first time after decades. As generic as lot of trad jazz was in the 50s, at least it was still popular dance music. So popular, that even the most commercially-driven budget labels were dishing out jazz records.
Anyway, just found this 45 a few days ago, with no sleeve and quite beat up. Two instrumental versions of folk songs that are in the public domain, recorded by a pseudonymous band for a short-lived, long-defunct, cheapo label, make this perfect blog material, according to the rules.
Fuchs, du hast die Gans gestohlen is a German children´s song.
This is “bad” jazz. I like it!
Muss i denn zum Städele hinaus is a traditional German folk song. Elvis recorded it in 1960. The Feetwarmers (with Klaus Doldinger on clarinet!) were voted “Best Traditional Band” at the Amateur Jazz Festival in Düsseldorf in 1960, and recorded an instrumental version of the song on their first single for Odeon, that same year.
The Favorit label´s cash-in version is not that bad in comparison…
Ebay for 125 euros! Of course nobody will buy it. But why is a record that advertizes for the 1959/1960 SABA-Stereo Truhe, (a TV, a radio and a record player combined into a piece of furniture), considered to be so valuable?trying to sell it on
Most probably because of the one song by Austrian jazz tenor saxophonist and bandleaderone of the few pure jazz musicians who managed to play his music after the Beatles dropped the bomb on jazz in the 60s. Most other German and Austrian jazz musicians either had to play Schlager or dropped out.
This record is also unique because it was one of the first releases produced by SABA, a German manufacturer of electronic equipment, before the company actually branched out into the SABA label. The note/fir tree symbol on the sleeve signifies the black forest where the company and the studio was located. In 1968 SABA, a variety label, was renamed to MPS, the first German label to exclusively release jazz. SABA issued three LPs by Hans Koller from 1963 to 1966. In this respect Koller´s “Tribute to SABA” , recorded in 1958 in Sandweiher near Baden-Baden, was a tribute ahead of time.
Now you probably know by now that I´m not a jazz expert. In fact I don´t care for most of what has passed for jazz in the past 60 years. I like jazz that you cannot stand still to: dance music.
Well, this is still sufficiently swingin`…
If you like this you might want to check out an EP by Zoot Sims and Hans Koller from roughly the same time on the German Brunswick label, that Boogieman posted in April. That one really makes you wanna move!
Rio De Gregori (* September 22, 1919 in Zürich; † May 22, 1987 in Munich) was a Swiss jazz pianist and singer.
De Gregori learned to play the piano at age 7 and at fourteen started to collect jazz records by the likes of Duke Ellington and others. Although his parents wanted him to become a classical pianist, he started to perform professionally as a jazz musician. He worked with Willie Mac Allen (1939-40), James Boucher (1940- 41), Jo Grandjean (1942) and up until September 1944 with René Weiss and his orchestra. Then he got a job in Fred Böhler´s big band and stayed with them until 1945. The same year he founded his own big band, that included some of the best Swiss jazz musician like Stuff Combe, Bob Jaquillard, Jean Pierre Dupuis, Luc Hoffmann, Raoul Schmassmann, Kurt Weil and guest soloist Glyn Paque. After the breakup of his band he continued to work in a trio and as a soloist and also managed a bar in Ascona, Switzerland. He then settled in Munich, opened a night club and henceforth called himself Rio Gregory. He named the club Bar Ascona. Later he discovered pop singer Suzanne Doucet at Bar Ascona.
Rio Gregory recorded another four EPs worth of material for the Varieton label and some more records for Columbia, Elite and Harlekin. Despite the Wikipedia article, not one of them has ever been reissued.
Simple but nicely designed one-sided plastic Varieton company sleeve and red vinyl for the jazz collectors of 1955!
Cigarettes and Summertime! They work well together. Sitting outside enjoying the sun, the body bursting with energy, there´s nothing like inhaling and wasting some of that excess power. And then there´s still beer and lemonade…
Gorden – So frisch wie das Leben von heute
Rauchen sie gorden! Machen Sie mit – tanzen sie den gorden-hit!
A while back I found some more flexible 45s by Kid Orbis, alias Wolf Gabbe. Although my other posts of his music, like his swingin Nutcracker Suite, have left even the small remainder of readers unfazed, I have to do what I have to do. I dig Kid Orbis´ take on Antonín Dvořák. Sure, Jumpin with Anthony Dvorak could be more jumpin´ but it´s still a nice little tune. Kid Orbis recorded specially for Delta-Ton out of Düsseldorf-Büderich. But Delta Ton also took over material from real labels.
J.P.´s Blues by James Williard Parks and the Bucktown-Six first appeared on an EP of the same title on the German Climax label, a small jazz specialty label. Written by J.W. Parks, an Afro-American US-soldier stationed in Wiesbaden. J.P.´s Blues is probably the most authentic sounding blues song recorded in Germany in the 1950s. It was recorded on February 22nd 1957 in the Robert-Schumann-Saal in Düsseldorf.
The line-up features: J.W.Parks, voc; Dietrich Geldern, cl; Manfred Stapput, tp,voc; Herbert Koleczek, p; Dieter Kauffmann, bj; Hermey Kopp, dm and Heino Ribbert, b.
(Cover image from the 45cat website)
Judging from the front sleeve of the Climax EP J.W. Parks must have been a sight to behold in Germany at the time. His flashy getup was certainly in contrast to that of most German jazz musicians and Pop stars.
Most people will probably only shrug their shoulders when they hear these songs, but to me this record seems almost unreal. It´s like this record was made for Berlin Beatet Bestes and on so many levels!
1. It is an advertisement record,
2. It was privately pressed for a Berlin car dealer
3. It´s got a cartoon sleeve
4. The two risqué songs are sung by local Berlin star Brigitte Mira, an actress who frequently worked with Fassbinder
5. The music is in sort of a Dixieland Jazz style
6. Of course it´s also never been reissued.
What more can I ask for?
In a way these two risqué songs, backed by Heinrich Riethmüller, predate Brigitte Mira´s bold later work. For some unknown reason the Berlin car dealer Bunde had the idea to advertize for his business with some naughty songs. Some sleeves even had “Der kesse Gruss vom Autohaus Bunde” ( Naughty greetings from Autohaus Bunde) stamped on the front. You can see this stamp on a copy that some greedy person is trying to sell on Ebay for the ridiculous amount of 35 Euros. Of course nobody will ever buy it. Listen to the songs and you´ll see why. Last week I paid less than 50 cents in a thrift store and I think that´s much more appropriate. Most likely it was the name that got the seller to put a higher price tag on this record.
Brigitte Mira (1910-2005) was most famous for the work she did with Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It was Fassbinder´s genius to cast people like Brigitte Mira for his art films. She had been a popular German actress since the 1940s, but was mostly known for her comedies. Mira´s personal courage made her steer off the beaten path and towards serious, more challenging roles, like in Ali:Fear Eats The Soul (1974).
By the early 70s Fassbinder regularly worked for German television. “Wie ein Vogel auf dem Draht” was a TV-show directed by Fassbinder for Brigitte Mira. German television never got more campy than this:
Despite her adventurous career, in the eyes of the majority of the German public, Brigitte Mira remained „the archetypal funny old Berlinerin with a heart.” (The Guardian). But in the 70s Brigitte Mira basically had two careers, appearing in cutting-edge art films and also starring in funny popular films and on television (most prominently in the series Drei Damen vom Grill).
Finally: the music.
Die alte Clofrau translates to “The Old Toilet Lady”. In the song she tells the story of her life as a bathroom attendant. A blues song about how she flushes the toilet for the very last time…
Triebwagen is railcar, but Trieb also means sex drive. Mit dem Triebwagen nach Italien translates to “Travelling to Italy by railcar”. The lyrics deal with the cliché that Italian men are sexually potent. So horny female German tourists travel to Italy in search of sexual adventures…
The artwork of this record is not signed. I have a vague suspicion who could have done it but so far I can not put a name to it.
Last week I bought two Opera label 45s. Opera was a record club, essentially a sort of cheapo label. They still sell cheaply today and I would contribute this largely to the bland record sleeves, that do not tell much about the music on the records and lead sellers to believe the music must not be interesting. Opera did mostly published second grade versions of hit songs, but also took over some cool stuff from other labels catalogs, like Duke Ellington and the Deep River Boys. While the music on this record is not rhythm & blues or hot jazz it´s still a little more sophisticated than the stuff that I normally present here. It´s Modern Jazz in the Stan Getz style – some sort of big band junkie jazz. Either way it´s not meant for dancing. It´s music for sitting. I´m nearing fifty but I feel that I´m still way too young for this type of jazz. I still have no time for slow music. Or for music that I need to sit down to to listen to.
But who is this band and where are they from? I couldn´t find any trace of The Pepper Biters Big Band on the Internet. Are these real names? Ben Brook (Piano), Joe Nathan (Trumpet), Shaw-Shaw Namuna (Drums), Mackie Daniels (Voice), Mike Mills (Saxo), Buddy Toybeen (Trombone), Coleridge Gray (Vibraphone), Larry Pongo (Bass) and the Hot Nine.
Compared to the Dixieland songs from flexi discs that I´ve posted lately, the Leathertown Jazzmen were the real thing. Maybe not in the sense that their playing was more authentic, but at least the Leathertown Jazzmen were full-time Jazzmen.
Most groups who played early jazz in the 50s were decidedly amateur. They believed that if they wanted to stay true to the original New Orleans players, who were predominantly amateurs, they must also stay amateurs. Nevertheless, the youthful and talented Leathertown Jazzmen (Otto Zitzelsberger, John Howlett, Armin Johl, David Meggeson, Horst Brandt and Roy Pellet), a mixed group of British and German musicians, were in such high demand, that they were able to turn pro in 1960. They toured Germany, England, Spain and Norway. In August 1962 they appeared at the International Jazz Festival in Comblain-la-Tour, near Liege in Belgium, in front of 35.00 people. Apart from the instruments they´re holding in the picture (clarinet, trombone and banjo), they look like a rock´n´roll group. The Leathertown Jazzmen were from Offenbach, a town that until the 1950s was known for its large leather industry. Since then, that has changed dramatically. Due to many companies moving their businesses to countries with lower wages, from the 1.339 leather companies that were counted in Offenbach in 1907, only 19 remained in the year 2000.
As far as I know, the Jazzmen recorded at least one more 45 for the Pye label in 1962 (Heidelberg/Rosamunde, Pye 7N 3113) , but none of them have been reissued in fifty years. Delia Gone, written and recorded by Blind Blake in 1949, tells the true story of the murder of Delia Green on Chrismas Eve 1900. Interesting trivia according to Wikipedia: “Delia Gone” was prominently covered by The Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger and four times by Johnny Cash. In the music video for Cash’s fourth recording, Delia is played by Kate Moss.
The Leathertown Jazzmen´s version of Delia Gone is pretty close to the version of Acker Bilk. I still like The Jazzmen´s version better. It´s a little more rootsy…