Monday, July 30, 2007

Sultans of Swatting (and a quiz!)

Well...I've been rather busy with the Great Brunswick Radio Project...transferring around 140 12-inch transcription 78s of early (1929-31) "canned radio" shows recorded for the National Radio Advertising Co. by Brunswick. Each record contains around five minutes of a show...a fifteen-minute show used three sides, a half-hour, six.
Most of the shows in this stash are incomplete...a stray part here and there...and there's a lot of rather dated staples of early radio, light classical music, forgettable string ensembles, and the like. However, there were a handful of decent jazz-influenced pop sides and some interesting ethnic material recorded in Europe.
Some of the material therein was quite interesting, as we shall see.

For a number of years, I've been fond of a silly ditty (from the 1930 musical comedy/sci-fi movie Just Imagine) remembered from the old Victor record by McKinney's Cotton Pickers:

64608-2 Never Swat A Fly McKinney's Cotton Pickers Vi 23020
Link killed 2 March 2010 - downloaded 99 times
NYC, 4 November 1930: Don Redman, conductor; Joe Smith, Rex Stewart, Langston Curl, trumpets; Ed Cuffee, trombone; Don Redman, Benny Carter, Edward Inge, Prince Robinson, reeds; Todd Rhodes, piano; Dave Wilborn, banjo; Billy Taylor, tuba; Cuba Austin, drums; Bill Coty, vocal. The clarinet soloist is a young Benny Carter.

Catchy little tune, no? Apparently Maria (d'Amato) Muldaur liked it too...she recorded it twice, with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and a solo version on her children's album around 20 years later.

Anyway...I noticed there were two new (new to me, anyway) versions of this song lurking in the radio discs I was transferring. I couldn't resist sharing them, if only to share the extra verses! Here they are:

XE-35018 (excerpt) Never Swat A Fly The Mirth Quakers from Mirth Quakers, show P, part 4
Link killed 2 March 2010 - downloaded 55 times
NYC ca. 4 November 1930: Jerry Macy, Norman Brokenshire, vocal; perhaps Murray Kelner, violin and others.

Notice how they changed the lyrics from "with you" to "with Sue!" not that anything's wrong with that!

XE-35335 (excerpt) Never Swat A Fly Irving Kaufman from Novelty Special, show J, part 2 Link killed 2 March 2010 - downloaded 54 times
NYC 7 November 1930: Irving Kaufman, vocal, personnel uncertain, but my guess is that the band contains Mike Mosiello, trumpet; Andy Sannella, alto sax; and Joe Venuti, violin. Kaufman muffs the words "Here is the motto," somehow getting it "Here is the mos' moto." Interesting that Brunswick didn't do a retake. They probably figured that the record would be played once over the air, and that would be it...the records were supposed to be returned or destroyed.

Here's another little treat from another of these shows...
Link killed 2 March 2010 - downloaded 44 times
Can you guess what it is? It's not a fly, nor a mosquito. Or, perhaps, where it was recorded? A tiny clue can be heard in the background.

Again, hats off to all correct answerers...and a lifetime supply of Uncle Eugene's Special Aged Peanut Butter Sandwiches to the first correct one.
Oh....nobody has identified the mystery pianist from the last post...apparently it's not in the Lord Jazz Discography. It's an interesting record, even if one of the sides seems to be a set piece, without any real improvisation in it. Sure wish I knew who it really is.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mystery Record!

A while ago, I bought a nice parcel of 78s, many on obscure West Coast labels (mostly Melodisc). Included were three 78s, all with plain white labels. When I got around to playing them, I was pleasantly surprised…one of them had a maddeningly familiar voice singing Someday, Sweetheart, backed by a couple of saxes and rhythm section. The flip side was a slow, pretty instrumental. The (very tiny) matrix numbers were in an “EXC-“ series. That got me thinking…Exc-lusive! Sure enough, the record was indeed by that label’s star performer, Joe Liggins…and the flip side was Yvette.

So far, so good, Sherlock.

The other two records…well, it turned out they were actually two copies of the same record…a solo pianist (who reminds me a bit of Erroll Garner, but I don’t think it’s him…not enough “Garnishes.”) playing Stormy Weather and I Surrender, Dear. These had matrixes R-17 and R-25 respectively. I’ve searched the Abrams database…and looked around on the web for a comprehensive Garner discography (it could be recorded before Erroll’s style had completely formed), but to no avail.

So I ask you, Dear Reader...might you recognize the mystery pianist?

R-17 Stormy Weather Mystery Pianist Unknown label test pressing
Link killed 2 March 2010 - downloaded 40 times

R-25 I Surrender, Dear Mystery Pianist Unknown label test pressing
Link killed 2 March 2010 - downloaded 38 times