Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Hallowe'en 2009

A few weeks ago, I found a duplicate copy of Zombie Jamboree, the Columbia 45 by the Calypso Carnival. I posted the song last year for the Hallowe'en season (and the friend I gave it to was tickled plaid). I thought I'd dig out the LP the other day...

And here it is, the long out-of-print LP, The Calypso Carnival (Columbia CL 1003). The Carnival features four or five solo vocalists, a guitarist, a percussionist, and maybe a few other voices for the chorus. The small horn section or violinist that usually show up on calypso sides aren't on this album at all. I think the exuberance of this troupe more than makes up for the lack.

Here's the rundown of the songs, along with the featured vocalist:

The Calypso Carnival Columbia CL 1003.
1. Honey Man featuring Sammy Heyward
2. Victoria Market featuring Irene Lusan
3. Small Island featuring Irene Lusan & Lord Zebedee
4. Better Woman Than You (Gal, Tell Me That Again) featuring Irene Lusan & Amy Goodwin
5. Union Street featuring Sammy Heyward
6. Ministre A Zaca featuring Massie Patterson, Theresa Merritt, & Alfred Earle
7. Trinidad Blues featuring Lord Zebedee
8. Miss Emmalina featuring Sammy Heyward
9. Solas Market featuring Massie Patterson
10. Chicken Gumbo And The Okra Water featuring Lord Zebedee
11. Shimmy Like A Lady featuring Massie Patterson & Lord Zebedee
12. Zombie Jamboree featuring King Flash
13. Choucounne featuring Irene Lusan
14. Mama, Looka Boo Boo (Boo Boo Man) (Bonus Track) featuring King Flash
Oh, by the way, Track 14, Mama Look-A Boo Boo (Boo Boo Man) was not on the LP...but it was the flip side of the Zombie Jamboree 45, so it belongs here.

Also Choucounne was quickly adapted into the easy-listening favorite Yellow Bird.

Since I was unfamiliar with the names of the vocalists, I Googled their names and found that Massie Patterson, in addition to being a veteran Broadway performer (The Hot Mikado and two editions of Green Pastures, among others) was codefendent with calypso legend Lionel Belasco against Paul Baron, Jeri Sullavan and Morey Amsterdam over the trio's song Rum And Coca-Cola, which was found to contain elements of Belasco's 1906 song L'Annee Passee. More on that fight is here and here .

Massie Patterson also compiled several volumes of calypsos with Sammy Heyward.

I also noticed that most of the songs on the LP were composed by S. C. Patterson. Perhaps S.C. was related to Massie.

If the reprise of Zombie Jamboree hasn't sated your appetite for brains zombie songs, here are a couple of frantic instrumental sides:

1906-2 Zombie Harlem Rascals Varsity 6014
NYC, October 1932: Large studio orchestra.

This interesting side, issued in Varsity's 6000 Race series, was originally issued on Crown 3413 as White Zombie in late 1932 (Probably just after the Bela Lugosi movie with the same title was released). The label credit went to Joel Shaw's Orchestra, but this is essentially the Gene Kardos orchestra, under the nominal leadership of Kardos's pianist.

A year and a half later, Kardos redid the chart for several ARC dime-store labels. My copy is on Melotone:

15367-1 Zombie Gene Kardos Orch Melotone M-13081
NYC, 36 June 1934: Large studio orchestra.

This time around, the tempo is quite a bit faster and that somewhat annoying spooky laughter is (mercifully) missing. Also, the tuba on the Crown has been replaced by a string bass. Notice he drops out for two bars in the same place each chorus.

There is a rum and vodka-based cocktail called a Zombie...probably named for the aftereffects of overindulging in them. The recipe is here: . It was this drink that Fats Waller had in mind when he sang the immortal Abercrombie Had A Zombie:

057086-1 Abercrombie Had A Zombie Fats Waller and his Rhythm Bluebird B-10967
NYC, 6 November 1940: Thomas "Fats" Waller, vocal, piano and leader; John Hamilton, trumpet; Gene Sedric, clarinet; Al Casey, guitar; Cedric Wallace, bass; Slick Jones, drums.

All this Zombie stuff and the calypso LP reminded me of the terrific 1943 movie, I Walked with a Zombie, directed by Jacques Tourneur and produced for RKO's B-movie unit by Val Lewton.

It's one very spooky movie, full of unexpected images and drums. Lots of drums!! And there's a scene that takes place in the island's main village, with famed calypsonian Sir Lancelot singing the following:

Fort Holland Calypso Song , part 1 Sir Lancelot I Walked With A Zombie soundtrack

After the James Ellison character (the Rand mentioned in the song) drinks himself into a stupor, Lancelot comes back and, slowly walking towards the nurse (Frances Dee), finishes his song:

Fort Holland Calypso Song, part 2 Sir Lancelot I Walked With A Zombie soundtrack

Here's the Wiki...
If you haven't seen this movie, you're in for a treat. And it's short (69 minutes) so you can sneak it in before another longer feature on your next Movie Night.

Around fifteen years ago, I found this neat album of 78s:

Calypso Sir Lancelot with Gerald Clark Keynote album K-126

1947: Sir Lancelot, vocal; others unidentified.

1. A Night In Central Park
2. Ugly Woman
3. Scandal In The Family
4. Young Girls Today
5. The Century Of The Common Man
6. Trindad Is Changing

And the third cut, Scandal In The Family, is a retitled Fort Holland Calypso Song (also known as Shame And Scandal)!

What the heck, here are a couple of other semi-spooky sides for your enjoyment:

TB 2266-2 The Night Ride Ambrose and his Orchestra Decca 992

London, 29 June 1936: Large British orchestra, with (American) Danny Polo on clarinet.

21700 Skeleton Jangle Original Dixieland Jazz Band Victor 18473

NYC, 17 July 1918: Nick LaRocca, trumpet; Eddie Edwards, trombone; Larry Shields, clarinet; Henry Ragas, piano; Tony Sbarbaro, drums.

Here's another tune originally associated with the ODJB:

66606 Satanic Blues Bud Freeman Summa Cum Laude Orch Decca 2781

NYC, 18 September 1939: Max Kaminsky, trumpet; Brad Gowans, trombone; Pee Wee Russell, clarinet; Bud Freeman, tenor sax; Dave Bowman, piano; Eddie Condon, guitar; Clyde Newcomb, bass; Danny Alvin, drums.

I wonder how many people got nervous when they saw the first three digits of the matrix number...

15663 Goblin Market Joe Venuti Orch OKeh 41586

NYC, 17 August 1934: Joe Venuti, violin and leader; unknown personnel.

That was a hot little side...but the discographies list the personnel as unknown. The OKeh label, by the way, issued only two more records in the 40000 general series before being phased out for a while. It reemerged in 1940 as Columbia's cheaper label for a few years, until all of the thirty-five cent labels vanished during the war. Eventually it came back again as a (mostly) R & B label.

Well, that'll do it for this installment...I'll replace the so-so pictures with good-quality scans when I get a chance.

...and I finally did it (29 May 2010)!