A couple of years ago I thought big band swing music was boring elevator background muzak. Since then I´ve developed a deep appreciation for the big band swing sound of the 30s and 40s. But the reason why big band swing got such a bad rep is probably stuff like this. Back in the 50s big band swing had already gotten long out of fashion. Like all big band swing ever since, this record was appealing to more conservative listeners. Hip people either listened to real jazz or rock´n´roll. Today nobody needs some 1950s second grade medleys of Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller hits, when most people don´t even care for the originals? Still musically this is top-notch big band swing! From Berlin – from one of Berlin´s true Jazzmen!
Andrés Ramiro really is Berlin band leader Wolf Gabbe,the man who was also behind the pseudonym Kid Orbis. Unfortunately his music has largely been forgotten. If you´ll search for Wolf Gabbe on Amazon/Itunes two songs will pop up that are currently for sale . Only two songs from a couple of decades that Gabbe worked and recorded in. I have posted some of his records here, here and here.
Wolf Gabbe appeared in the 1954 film Der treue Husar, the faithful Hussar.
Friday, February 8th 2013
at Wasserturm, Kopischstrasse 7 in Kreuzberg (Kopischstrasse on the corner of Fidicinstrasse, 2 minutes from subway station Platz der Luftbrücke)
Wasserturm is a real 125-year old water tower in the center of the historic Chamisso area in Kreuzberg. It offers 70 square meters of nice wooden floor, a small stage with a piano and full back line, high ceiling with super acoustics and no noise outside because of the extra thick walls of the water tower and a small bar.
Some records I´m going to play:
1. COLEMAN HAWKINS AND HIS ORCHESTRA, What Harlem Is To Me, 1935
2. LOUIS ARMSTRONG AND THE MILLS BROTHERS, Boog-It
3. FATS WALLER WITH EDDIE CONDON´S DIXIELANDERS, Oh Sister Ain´t That Hot, 1940
4. COZY COLE´S BIG SEVEN, Sweethearts On Parade, 1950
5. JOHNNY HODGES AND HIS ORCHESTRA, Standing Room Only
6. MAHALIA JACKSON, Walking To Jerusalem
7. KID ORY´s CREOLE JAZZBAND, Weary Blues, 1945
8. SIDNEY BECHET & MEZZ MEZZROW, Revolutionary Blues, 1947
9. THE NAT KING COLE TRIO, Gone With The Draft, 1940
10. TAB SMITH, Can´t We Take A Chance, 1951
11.COLEMAN HAWKINS ALL STAR OCTET, When Day Is Done, 1940
12. SAM PRICE AND HIS KAYCEE STOMPERS, Jumpin´ On 57th
This is the other EP by Jean-Claude Pelletier that I have in my collection. My French is rather limited so this is what I could grasp from the liner notes on the back of the sleeve. It´s probably all wrong, so please correct me: Jean-ClaudePelletier was born in Paris in 1928, started to go to conservatory in 1936 and won a first prize for his piano playing and graduated in 1946, met Benny Vasseur, Pierre Braslowsky, René Franc and their group ended up in the finals of the Hot-Jazz contest in 1946. Jean-Claude then joined the orchestra of Alix Combello and stayed with them for five years. In 1954 he started to play in smaller groups together with Bill Coleman, Albert Nicholas, Buck Clayton, Jonah Jones James Moody, Sidney Bechet and Lionel Hampton. In 1955 he performed together with Claude Luter at the Vieux Comombier, the famous Paris jazz club in the basement of the Vieux Colombier Theatre.
Jean-Claude Pelletier is seen pointing to a sign of the Paris metro station Peletier (pronounced just the same but spelled differently) on the front cover of the record. On the back of the sleeve two more EPs are listed in the Columbia Jazz Stars series by the Pelletier Trio and the Pelletier Sextett. I would sure be interested to hear them, but, just like this EP, they have never been reissued. All of the songs were written by Jean-Claude Pelletier.
The personnel of the Pelletier orchestra is:
A. Renard – P. Sellin – V. Cassino (tp) B. Vasseur – Ch. Verstraete (tb) – H. Jouot (bs) – G. Grenu (as) – G. Lafitte – R. Simon (ts) – R. Bianchini (b) – Ch. Garros (dm) – J.C. Pelletier piano and leader
Pelletier was not only well-versed in traditional jazz but could also really swing. The liner notes mention his ability to play the blues: “a rarity among pianists of the new generation”. Now some purists might argue that the only good swing music is from the 1930s and 40s but by now you should know what I think of purists. I think this is excellent French 1950s big-band swing…
These four tracks first appeared on the Tommy Lakes presents When Swing Was King LP on the Promenade label out of Newark, New Jersey before they were licensed to the Opera label out of Stuttgart in 1957. One budget label licensing to another budget label was common practice in those days, when the main objective was to sell records cheaper than the bigger labels. So probably that´s why Opera bought some swing standards by an unknown American band to add to their jazz catalog. Interestingly they also published Duke Ellingtons Overture To Jam Session, originally issued on the Musicraft label in 1946, as Opera #4409.
Now that I´ve mentioned budget and cheap so many times, I´ve probably sealed Tommy Lakes fate forever, but while he ain´t no Count Basie, this is some nice big band swing. These tracks have never been re-released in any format in more than fifty years and will likely never be, but King Porter Stomp does have some cool moments when the drums race the dueling clarinet and brass section towards the end of the song. That´s certainly still worth a couple of swing-outs:
TOMMY LAKES ORCHESTRA, King Porter Stomp
TOMMY LAKES ORCHESTRA, One O´Clock Jump
TOMMY LAKES ORCHESTRA, Hawaiian War Chant
TOMMY LAKES ORCHESTRA, Tiger Rag
“What are you doing, hacking away on that keyboard?”, my girlfriend asked irritated while I was writing this. “You´re not doing your blog again, are you?” My girlfriend always thought my blogging was just a huge waste of time. And she is right. Today it took me a couple of hours to do this little post, because I forgot how all the features work. Ridiculous how long it took. It was one of the reasons why I stopped blogging almost a year ago. I was addicted to “putting stuff from the real world into the digital world”, or at least that´s how I used to justify my activity, but then I never really had any use for the digital myself. I still don´t listen to MP3s, I don´t own CDs and I don´t buy anything on the Internet. Especially not on Ebay. I like buying real records and if I ever had a message behind this blog, it was to encourage people to go out and buy records. It´s easy. I do it every week. Another reason for my absence was that my computer collapsed. Luckily a friend gave me his old one but it is really loud and slow and most of the keys on the keyboard don´t work properly so it takes twice as long to write. It´s just not fun doing a music blog like this.
The biggest reason for my hiatus was that my girlfriend and me started swing dancing, a very worldly activity and a very social one. I met a lot of nice people in the swing scene but the best thing of it is, that of all the other musical sub-cultures that I was involved in since the early eighties, the swing dancing scene is the only one dominated by women. I love it and sure felt more like spending my spare time with my girlfriend and her friends, instead of the computer.
Swing dancing also opened up a huge new field of music for me. For the past year I´ve been buying quite a few jazz records and also found some pretty odd 45s that have never been re-released.
Like this advertisement record for Übersee-Kaffee. Christina Burg also did “Übersee-Kaffe-Rumba” and I have another one of her 45s on the Souvenir label: “Ich freu mich immer so, wenn Ferien sind”. In “Mister Millers Milchbar” Christina sings abut milk instead of coffee. “Barhocker-Bounce” (bar stool bounce) is 1950s big-band swing but listen to the bottle pop and the glasses klank…
Over the past month I´ve really gotten into 78rpm records and swing music. Suddenly the less than 50 shellac records I´ve recently accumulated are much more exciting to me than the thousands of 45s I have in my collection. Also more exciting than the boxes I´ve filled with odd and never re-released 45s for this blog.
So what do I post next? More scratchy 78s? Not until I find a better way of recording them. As much as I like to listen to the shellac records on my record player, so far the results of my digitizing are painful to listen to. While searching in my collection for something to get me at least a little bit inspired I found these records. They make a transition from the early to the late 50s. From swing on 78rpm to swing on 45.
Some nice up-tempo swing music on Top-Light by Heinrich Riethmüller and his orchestra from an advertisement record for the film “Elektroschiffe – Voll voraus” (full ahead) produced by the AEG company, proudly showing all of the electrical equipment on the electric-diesel ship “Wappen von Hamburg”. A quick look at Wikipedia revealed that it is currently being renovated in San Fransisco, California. The new owners even made a cool blog about the history of the vessel.
Heinrich Rietmüller was born in 1921 in Berlin and after studying music, got his first professional job right after the war, playing piano in the Radio Berlin Tanzorchester. On this Amiga recording he can be heard backing the Cornel-Quartett playing the Wurlitzer electric piano.
The song was originally written by Michael Jary for the film “Die dritte von rechts” from 1950, a spectacle picture most notable for Laya Raki´s taped nipples.
In the 1970s Heinrich Riethmüller (1921-2006) got to be known by millions of Germans when he appeared regularly on television in the Dalli Dalli quiz show. Without noticing German kids were also familiar with Riethmüller because he was responsible for directing many German soundtracks and voiceovers of Disney films.
As indicated on the back of the sleeve Heinrich Riethmüller recorded at least seven more 45s for the Austrian Amadeo label. He can be heard playing the electric piano on these two automobile related songs: Grüne Welle (A lucky streak of being given the green light at crossings) and Romanze für 12PS (PS = horsepower, so I guess it´s veeeery slow romance).