Dynamite Ham, "I Believe In You" 2005

Celebrating the 100th birthday of Frank Loesser today, I am sharing a little tribute record I made to him five years ago.  It also contains songs by Dr. Frank of the band The Mr T Experience.  Enjoy!



Ralph Flanagan "Box Lunch" 1950

Ralph Flanagan was a successful bandleader who is remembered mostly for mimicking the "Glenn Miller sound." This track doesn't sound like Miller at all to me though--it's a good example of big band jazz morphing into R&B.  A live recording from the Hotel Statler in New York.  I think the tenor solo is by Steve Benoric.  Enjoy!



Hans Brändle, "Karussel" 1943

I can't find much info on the web about Hans Brändle.  The LP I found this song on has limited liner notes, and those are in German.  This appears to have been recorded in 1943, right in the middle of WWII.  I'm not sure how well the Nazis tolerated this kind of swing music.  (Maybe it helped bring about their downfall, bwaahahahaha!!) "Karussel" is a well-recorded, smoothly executed bit of minor key swing.  Enjoy!



Teddy Powell, "Sans Culottes" 1942

Hey folks, sorry I haven't posted in a while.  I'll try to be more diligent.
Today's entry is "Sans Culottes" written by Bob Mersey for Teddy Powell's orchestra.  It is one of many pop songs to incorporate the famous faux-Arabic riff  The Streets of Cairo or "The Snake Charmer Song" into its chart.  Gramaphone gave the recording a positive-to-mixed review in its February 1942 edition, saying:

Sans Culottes (meaning " Without Trousers ") has its points. Composition is a bright concoction, and although the preponderance of higher frequencies ill the recording have not made the band sound any better, it plays with plenty of verve. The brass and sax teams play good style ; the rhythm department kicks invigoratingly ; and there are lively moments by the trumpet and sax soloists and the drummer.

Of course, I'm a sucker for a hard-swinging, minor key riff with big ensembles.  That's pretty much what this blog is about, after all.



Alvino Rey, "Sleepytown Train" 1942

Got a real fun treat for today.  Alvino Rey was a guitarist and bandleader with an innovative bent.  Thirty years before Peter Frampton was blowing our minds talking through his guitar, Rey devised a way to modulate the sound of his pedal steel with vocals.  A few of his recordings from this period demonstrate the new technique, but none more wildly than this live recording from 1942.  Enjoy!



Artie Shaw, "Powerhouse" 1938

Today we celebrate the centenary of Artie Shaw.  Shaw was one of the most gifted soloists on his chosen instrument in the history of jazz.  It's hard to find out-of-print Shaw records, but this recording of Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" from a 1938 transcription was about as close as I could find.  My favorite sides of Shaw's considerable recorded output are his more experimental big band numbers from 1949, collected nicely here.



Mills Blue Rhythm Band, "Blue Rhythm Jam" 1947

This ferociously swinging chart was written by Van Alexander who led a couple of sessions under the MIlls Blue Rhythm Band name in 1947.  It was really more of a tribute to the popular band of the same name from the '30s.  The ensembles are tight, the solos are wailin'--what a fine way to kick off a beautiful springtime weekend.  Enjoy!


Al Donahue, "Alabamy Bound" 1941

Nothing too exceptional here, just a hard-swinging rendition of this pop chestnut.



Joe Marsala, "Topsy" 1942

Adele Girard may have been the first real "swing harpist."  There had been a couple of other instances of harp showing up on jazz records, but Girard appears to be the first harpist to be a regular featured soloist in a swing band.  Here's a good example of her sound recorded live in 1942 with Joe Marsala's band.



Bob Chester, "Dewey Square" 1941

Here's a little fugue-like number with some brilliant unison reed section work.  Much of Bob Chester's catalogue is available on CD and well worth checking out.


Lionel Hampton, "Calling Dr. Mancuso" 1948

This is a good example of a song title that gets me excited.  When browsing through LPs or 78s from this era, you come across a lot of yawn-inducing stuff like "I'll Be Yours Forever" or "Take Me In Your Arms."  Now, I'm as much a fan of the great Tin Pan Alley songs as anyone, but I get a special tingle in my toes when I stumble on a "Calling Dr. Mancuso" among the moons and Junes.  This track is a hard-swinging number recorded live during the musicians' recording strike of 1948.  Hampton's instrumental sides of this period are particularly invigorating and this one is no exception.



Jan Savitt, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" 1941

It was a common practice for big bands to record updated versions of classical standards.  Though criticized by many jazz critics of the day as non-jazz novelties, I find this to be an enjoyable sub-genre of swing music.  The first example of this style on this blog comes to us courtesy of Jan Savitt, one of its finest purveyors.  This swinging arrangement of Paul Dukas's symphonic poem was penned by Jack Pleis.  It shows respect to the original without sacrificing the big swing sound.


Eddie Miller, "Hum Drum" 1945

This track follows the familiar swing era formula made famous by Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing)": pounding tom-toms, wailing minor key riffs, big crescendos.  Formula or not, this is an excellent piece of music with brisk energy and a dynamic arrangement.  The drummer is Nick Fatool.



Brick Fleagle, "Pastiche" 1945

The November 24, 1945 issue of Billboard described the just-released transcriptions of Brick Fleagle as "sides solely for the jazz fanatics, particularly those who like to be confused with something pre-sold as being different."  Ouch.  I like this piece by the guitarist/composer/arranger/ Fleagle and his "rehearsal band."  I like the snakey lines of the trombone, the raggedy tenor and clarinet solos, the chromatic lines in the ensemble section, and the little minor key button at the end.  That same Billboard review described this track as "a classical mood piece that sounds more like Duke Ellington with a hangover."  Works for me.



Hey everybody, welcome to my new blog.  I've recently discovered the treasures offered by the music blogging world--some of my favorite purveyors are listed there on the right.  I love the idea of sharing music that would otherwise go unheard .  While I adore all kinds of music from all over the globe and all periods of history, what I have to offer the blogosphere is very specific.  I have a vast collection of records from the big band era, roughly 1935 to 1949.  My favorite songs from this period are the brilliant instrumentals concocted by ace composers and arrangers.  They usually have funny little titles and feature moments of virtuostic playing, inventive harmonies, and head-shaking grooves at all tempos.  My intention is to never share music that is still in print--I encourage you to support music retailers and the artists whose records are still available.  Also, unlike most music blogs, I will usually only post individual songs, as the concept of the long-playing record didn't emerge until after the big band era.  Enjoy!