Hazy Osterwald, the undisputed King of Swiss pop and jazz music, died in 2012 at the age of 90. Without ever trying very hard, even I have collected a bunch of his records. This promotional record, made for a brand of men’s safety razors, has never been reissued.
For obvious reasons….
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!
It is therefore little wonder that dance band leader Jean Couroyer roams musically across many borders in gathering material for his recording and makes sure of the widest possible acceptance by selecting the most popular dance rhythms.” (J.H. Watson from the liner notes to International Hit Parade)
This is another Swiss Varieton LP that I bought together with the Aprés-Ski in Kitzbühel album. Varieton was a sub-label of the main Swiss label Ex-Libris, used for budget releases like this one. The production is not so bad though, using thick cardboard and slick printing. It looks almost like an american album. The illustration on the sleeve however looks like it was drawn in five minutes by somebody who was not into the job at all. And it probably was. Regrettably I have had similar experiences in the past. The customer doesn´t really care or know the difference and I don´t really care or have the time either. So I rush a job. But receiving some product weeks later that reeks of all the reluctance it was crafted with feels bad. It´s embarassing to do poor work. Luckily those jobs are the exception, but at least for some reason they are always the best paying.
The raw and bold brush work and the combination of the innocent big girl dancing with the bald little man stands out though. He´s hanging in mid-air and she´s missing an arm but there´s a primitive charm to it. Most certainly the rest of the album´s design was done by other people than the guy who did the sketch. The Ad Lib font used for the title of the album was designed in 1961 by Freeman Craw for the American Type Founders (ATF), so it was pretty hip at the time. When I see the font I think of Crypt Records, because they have used it excessively on their album covers and for their catalogues since the 1980´s.
Sure, all this analysis is redundant considering that apart from three twist songs the album is pretty forgettable, at least to my ears. But I buy some records for other reasons than the music and I do enjoy this restrained orchestra rock´n´roll that was made for old people. Maybe because I am old. Not a lot of information on the Internet about Jean Couroyer, but I guess he is from Switzerland.
Here´s aprés-ski music from 50 years ago. Kitzbühel is still one of Austria’s best known and fanciest winter sport resorts. Of course the kind of music they play there today is much different. We were not in Kitzbühel but in another town, but I guess all these Austrian ski places are similar. Whatever the music would be like, we´re never doing any after-ski-partying anyway. It´s lame, but we´re too old. For us it´s all about snowboarding and hanging out with nice people. Having a hangover from too much alcohol and losing a day of snowboarding would be super lame.
About the record: I couldn´t find information about Luc Hoffman or Bettina Ray but I suspect they were from Switzerland. The Varieton label was a sub-label of Ex-Libris, the main Swiss record label. Luc Hoffmann and his Quintet recorded a twist record for the Swiss GPK label and another for the French Gala des Varietes label. (If you´re quick you might want to grab that 8-song twist EP on Ebay. I bet it´s great. If you win it please let me hear it).
Bettina Ray is copying Zarah Leander´s over-dramatic style of singing, which doesn´t really fit the swinging jazz band that is backing her. Not a lot of bongo in the cha cha cha either, but still kinda sweet how Bettina is trying to get all South-Amerikan…
BETTINA RAY & LUC HOFFMANN AND HIS STAR-QUINTET, Bongo Cha-Cha-Cha, 1959
Lass das sein (Stop it), a nice German mambo, was written by influential composer Michael Jary.
BETTINA RAY & LUC HOFFMANN AND HIS STAR-QUINTET, Lass das sein, 1959
Nice swinging version of this Bavarian standard:
LUC HOFFMANN UND SEIN STAR-QUINTET, In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus, 1959
I bought this Swiss EP in Zurich in the past summer. The record commemorates the International Jesus Festival Of Music held in Lenzburg, Easter 1972. The pop-art-meets-political-collage sleeve caught my eye, but I couldn´t listen to the record in the thrift store. So I had to take a chance. I was expecting the music to be somewhat dry and unfortunately most of these songs actually are, so I didn´t record them. However, the song House Of The Rising Sun by Les Pêcheurs (the fishermen), with lyrics changed to Oh Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn, is quite charming.
Usually in the summer my girlfriend and I try to spend at least a couple of weeks on vacation somewhere where it´s nice and sunny. This time it was only one week in Zurich. And from every trip I bring back records but my girlfriend really hates thrift stores, flea markets and actually any old junk, so I try to keep the time spent with that to a minimum. Her dislike also shows me what a strange pleasure it is to dig though dark and dusty stores, instead of enjoying the sunny life outside. If it wouldn´t be for her, I´d probably spent my whole vacation getting my hands dirty in old boxes.
Thanks to her we spent the days exploring the city and swimming in the Zurich lake. We also went to see The Jackets, a great Swiss garage band, at the Rote Fabrik and met Lurker Grand, author of Hot Love, the most comprehensive book on the early Swiss punk scene (1976-1980). Hot Love, a coffe-table size book with tons of full-page photos of punk bands, records, flyers and even self-made punk clothing, really is a graphic masterpiece. Lurker is currently working on a follow-up book on the Swiss Post-Punk scene of the 80´s.
The Swiss equivalent to a charity shop is a Brockenhaus. These Brockis are great because, unlike a lot of stuff in Switzerland, they are cheap and, like everything the Swiss people do, very well organised. I always find lots of cool records there. Maybe not the rare punk material that is mentioned in Hot Love, but you can find that at the Good bad Music for bad, bad Times Blog here, here , here and here.
This record is a advertising for the new electrical train up to Uetli mountain, close to Zurich. The Schnaaggi-Schaaggi was the old steam train that operated until 1962. It´s running again in the summer months and I hope to make it up there the next time I visit Zurich.
So, listen to the old steam train and take a Cha-Cha-Cha-Trip with the Schnaaggi-Schaaggi…
Another record I bought in Zurich in August at a Brocki for 50 Rappen, about 40 Cents. In the early 60´s Hawaiian music was popular all over the world, even in Switzerland. The Horst Busch Trio played German Framus guitars, at one time the biggest guitar producer in Europe. Besides that I couldn´t find anything about this group at all…