If Older Jazz Musicians Came Up Now…

As a critic, I receive a lot of “onesheets” and other publicity blurbs for the jazz artists I review, and you simply won’t believe how much purple prose and superfluous bullshit they’re full of. Yes, the same goes for modern classical musicians, but I’ve always thought of jazz as “the casual art” and therefore not in need of knowing what the musicians’ pedigrees are. But apparently that’s no longer the case. Nowadays jazz musicians are expected to have advanced degrees in music, a string of competition awards and, of course, the usual blather about how he or she is “one of the greatest [fill in the blank] of their generation”—as if they would belong to a different generation where they’re considered mere mortals and not towering geniuses.

Being a mischief-maker at heart, I began thinking what it would be like if some of the great jazz musicians of earlier times, whose work was judged by how hot they were and mostly by a jury of their peers (other jazz musicians), were coming up today, and how their albums would be marketed. Below are some examples.

NEW THOMAS WALLER ALBUM SPOTLIGHTS KEYBOARD SKILLS
FATS SAYS, “I’M NOT JUST ALL JOKES AND FUN”
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

Waller

Thomas “Fats” Waller, the well-known jazz band leader (the award-winning “And his Rhythm”), has just released a new four-disc set focusing on his piano prowess. Waller, a pupil of James P. Johnson among others, began playing piano at age six and was a professional organist by age 15. At age 18 he was recording such established classics of the literature as Muscle Shoals Blues for OKeh and the best-selling piano roll, Got to Cool My Doggies Now. He has been hailed in both his home country and Europe as one of the most accomplished technicians of his day. Longtime songwriting partner Andy Razaf has described him as “the soul of melody.”

In this all-new collection, Mr. Waller presents not only five established classics of jazz literature but also three original compositions of his own, of which Viper’s Drag draws particular attention not only for its two different tempi but also for its allusion to “viping,” which is Harlem slang for smoking a marijuana cigarette.

“I sure had fun makin’ that album,” Waller is quoted as saying. “It’s a killer…a killer, I tell you. Yas, yas!”

Preview copies sent to radio stations have shown that Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now is a particular favorite with audiences. Several listeners have contacted the stations declaring it “a solid sender.”

Mr. Waller is available for interviews on this set and its music in between bouts of drinking.

 

CHARLES BARNET AND HIS ORCHESTRA RELEASE “MURDER AT PEYTON HALL”
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

Murder BarnetCharles Daly Barnet, that well-known tenor saxophonist and bandleader, has just issued a new Bluebird record of which he is very proud, Murder at Peyton Hall. Although Mr. Barnet attended private boarding schools, thanks to the munificence of his grandfather, Charles Frederick Daly, the well-known banker and vice-president of the New York Central Railroad, Mr. Barnet wishes his audiences to know that the title does not refer to a real murder, particularly not at his boarding schools.

Mr. Barnet is probably best known for his Bluebird recording of Cherokee, which became so popular that he had to make it his orchestra’s theme song, but assures us that Murder at Peyton Hall is an even wilder piece. “It’s real hotshot jazz,” he relates.

After an explosive introduction played by drummer Cliff Leeman, acknowledged by experts of rhythm as “Mr. Time,” on rimshots, there is a scream that may startle some listeners. This is followed by the rhythm section, Mr. Barnet on tenor saxophone and the trumpets playing the simple melody before it is developed in muted-growl fashion by Billy May. Later on, there is a brief but excellent electric guitar solo by that modern master, Anthony “Bus” Etri. Mr. Etri is a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks and has been playing guitar since he was 12 years old.

 

FRANK TESCHEMACHER RETROSPECTIVE RELEASED
COLUMBIA RECORDS HONORS LATE CLARINETIST IN NEW REISSUE
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

Teschemacher

Missouri native Francis Teschemacher, who became known in the late 1920s and early ‘30s for his sizzling hot clarinet solos before his accidental death at the age of 25, is memorialized in this new four-disc album from Columbia Records.

In addition to playing clarinet, Mr. Teschemacher was also trained on the banjo and violin, occasionally even playing solos on the tenor saxophone. His work, however, was not universally hailed by jazz aficionados, largely due to his limited exposure on records and his instrumental tone, which has alternately been described as “fugitive” (by those who liked him) and “squawky” (by those who didn’t). Nonetheless, his style of improvisation was in large part influenced by the late jazz cornetist Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke, and he himself is credited with being an influence on our current “King of Swing,” Benny Goodman.

It is indeed sad that none of Mr. Teschemacher’s recordings were made under his own name. All those that we know to exist, including the titles in this set, were made as a sideman with other musicians. Some of the tunes in this set were made with “McKenzie and Condon’s Chicagoans,” a band name improvised for the recording session, while two others were made under the direction of the well-known jazz cornetist Ernest Loring “Red” Nichols, whose father was a college professor and also a leader of a local concert and marching band.

These recordings, particularly when played at loud volume, are certain to delight hot jazz fans and make the neighbors call the police.

 

BLUE NOTE RELEASES IMPORTANT NEW JAM SESSION DISC
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

Port of HarlemBlue Note, a new record label in the jazz community, has just released an important 12-inch disc combining the talents of famed swing trumpeter Frank Newton with noted blues-boogie pianists Albert Ammons and Meade “Lux” Lewis. On the “A” side of the disc, Mr. Newton, who hails from Emory, Virginia, is heard in concert with four other well-known swingers: trombonist J.C. Higginbotham, whose playing is often described as being in the “gutter” or “groove”; Ammons, hailed in major press venues as a king of blues and “barrelhouse” piano; rhythm guitarist Teddy Bunn, universally recognized as a superior timekeeper; and drummer Sidney Catlett, known to the jazz fraternity as “Big Sid.” The musicians have named their group the “Port of Harlem Jazzmen” in honor of that section of town in which most Negro musicians live in New York City.

Mr. Newton’s trumpet style has been described by major jazz scribes as “lyrical” and “highly swinging.” On the flip side of the record, Mr. Newton is heard with Meade “Lux” Lewis (author of the famous Honky Tonk Train Blues) playing his own composition, After Hours Blues. This is an innovative new composition full of interesting and advanced “blues” devices.

Those wishing to contact Mr. Newton can write him c/o the New York City Communist Club, of which he is a charter member.

 

DJANGO REINHARDT TO RELEASE NEW DISC, “SWING 42”
FAMED GUITARIST PLAYS WITH JUST TWO FINGERS ON HIS LEFT HAND
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

Reinhardt Swing 42The famed French Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt [pronounced “Zhan-gu Rey-nart”], who plays with only two fingers of his left hand due to a caravan fire in 1928 that burned that extremity and left irreparable damage, is proud to announce the impending release of his newest recording, “Swing 42.”

Since this is one of his first recordings to be released without his longtime musical partner, the highly skilled jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli, Mr. Reinhardt wanted to make it clear that his new combination with a clarinetist replacing Grappelli came about due to circumstances beyond his control. “When we go to England in 1939,” he states, “Stéphane decide to remain when I go back to Paris because he see war coming. Me, I don’t care much. I drink, I smoke, and I play guitar. Is enough for me.”

Yet the inclusion of the highly trained clarinetist Hubert Rostaing is also a nod to one of Mr. Reinhardt’s favorite American musicians, Benny Goodman. “I hear Benny make records with Charlie Christian on guitar,” he said. “Christian very good but I play better. I play better than any two other guitarist.” Rostaing, who is classically trained, graduated from the École de Clarinette in 1937. He tells us that he hopes one day to write classical music and film scores.

Mr. Reinhardt retains ties here to his earlier “Quintette du Hot Club de France” by including that group’s bassist, Emmanuel Soudieux, and his cousin Eugène Vees who also played rhythm guitar with the Grappelli version of the Quintette.

The other new member is the drummer, Pierre Fouad, who is an Egyptian prince. His playing is greatly admired by both Parisians and his fellow-Egyptians, although other Muslim countries consider him an infidel and have declared a fatwah on him for playing jazz.

 

DIZZY GILLESPIE BAND SCORES SOLID HIT WITH “OOPAPADA”
BEBOP TRUMPETER AND CULTURAL ICON ALSO SINGS ON NEW DISC
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

GillespieFamed bebop trumpeter John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie, also known as a high fashion setter in the jazz world for his costume of striped trousers, zoot suits, beret and goatee, is proud to announce the release of a new original composition which he wrote in conjunction with musician-composer Babs Brown.

“’Oopapada’ is a new kind of piece,” Mr. Gillespie tells us. “It doesn’t just have a good bop rhythm, but also a memorable melodic line, and since the lyrics are pretty much just scat syllables, everyone can feel comfortable singing along.” As if to prove his point, Mr. Gillespie sings the vocal refrain himself on this new RCA Victor record, accompanied by master singer Kenneth Hagood, who graduated from Juilliard with a degree in voice. “Kenny and I really goof good on this disc,” Mr. Gillespie added.”Heck, even the RCA dog, Nipper, joins us on this one.”

The “B” side of this magnum opus is none other than that well-known instrumental feature of the Gillespie band, “Ow!” Quoth the Bard of Bop: “I figured that with such a complicated title on side A, I wanted to let the public be able to pronounce the title of at least one song on the record, and I couldn’t think of anything shorter than ‘Ow!”. Originally, the title was just ‘O,” but Gil Fuller, our arranger, told me that if I left it that way, someone would be sure to think that I was writing pieces named after letters of the alphabet, and I didn’t want to mislead my fans.”

Both sides have been hailed by those disc jockeys who have already heard them. Famous jazz DJ and live broadcast host “Symphony” Sid Torin has described it as “real hot s**t. Dizzy just slays me with this kind of stuff.”

—© 2019 Lynn René Bayley

Follow me on Twitter (@artmusiclounge) or Facebook (as Monique Musique)

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Read my book, From Baroque to Bop and Beyond: An extended and detailed guide to the intersection of classical music and jazz

 

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