Lawrence Brown with Duke Ellington in Montreal 1964

Sure — there are lots of things on the internet that you probably wouldn’t want to see, and many things that you’d probably want to un-see. Yes, as time goes on, they’ll be more and more demand for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind [iTunes] technology. What’s posted here, however, likely won’t fall into that category: It’s a 1964 performance by the Duke Ellington Orchestra in Montreal for a Canadian TV program called Le Jazz Hot.

Many of the Ellington stalwarts are here, including Cat Anderson, Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges, and trombonist Lawrence Brown. (The full personnel listing can be found here.) Not surprisingly, this YouTube clip is an excerpt of a DVD which is commercially available. Imagine that!

slidetrombonelb Interestingly, Lawrence Brown was not a huge fan of Duke Ellington, despite working with the leader for nearly thirty years. The gist of the resentment? It seems Brown felt The Duke’s charisma was used to manipulate, and that Ellington took credit for the musical creations of his band members. As a specific example, Brown said that he was the actual composer of the “A” sections of Sophisticated Lady, and that saxophonist Otto Hardwick had come up with the bridge. Certainly, some of Brown’s criticisms are a matter of perspective. Where, for example, does cajoling end and manipulation begin? The interdependent relationship between Duke and his orchestra members is widely acknowledged, yet, it’s likely that Lawrence Brown’s name should be included on any Sophisticated Lady byline.

Lawrence Brown did branch out on his own from time to time. The album Slide Trombone [iTunes], from 1955 and for Verve records, is one example.

Dizzy and the Group on Jazz 625, 1966

Dizzy Gillespie’s 1966 group, featuring James Moody (saxes, flute), Kenny Barron (piano), Christopher Wesley White (bass), and Rudy Collins (drums), on the BBC’s Jazz 625 program. The show was hosted by Humphrey Lyttelton. The previous year, the same group played the 3/27/65 Charlie Parker Memorial concert at Carnegie Hall. Here as there, Diz and the band are in great form.

A few years earlier, Dizzy ran for president of the United States — you’ll see an audience member with one of the Dizzy Gillespie for President balloons.

April & Jazz Appreciation Month

Well, it’s been a while since there have been any posts here. To make matters worse, your’s truly has allowed most of Jazz Appreciation Month to pass without any jazz appreciation represented here. Thankfully, though, there’s still time. There’s always time. I think Albert Einstein said that.

For some (really) belated jazz appreciation, let’s go back to nearly the beginning of the previous century to a little thing called Livery Stable Blues, recorded by The Original Dixieland Jass Band for Victor in 1917. In these early days of “jass,” this sort of music was supposed to be somewhat comedic. The nascent recording industry used this idea of fun, novelty, and “jass” to “get over” with a popular market. In the case of Livery Stable Blues, this also meant — in part — a barnyard tie-in featuring musicians imitating animal sounds. Arguably, this constituted a disservice to both the animals and the humans. Other ODJB titles: Barnyard Blues, Ostrich Walk, Bow Wow Blues, and Skeleton Jangle.

Similarly constructed bands of this time played a music that musicians mostly identified as “ragtime,” and which didn’t need to be “funny.” The non-comic musical influence was coming from musicians like Joe “King” Oliver, whose band wouldn’t record for another six years.

Slide Hampton Plays Tadd Dameron

A book of solo transcriptions by Mike Medrick

mmslidebk

Mike Medrick’s book of Slide Hampton solos features Slide’s improvisations over the compositions of Tadd Dameron, including The Scene is Clean, Sid’s Delight (aka Tadd’s Delight), If You Could See Me Now, Lady Bird, The Squirrel, and Hot House.

Mad About Tadd, an album featuring Slide Hampton and the Heath Brothers, is the recording most of these solos come from. You can get Mad About Tadd on iTunes or at Amazon.

You can obtain a copy of Slide Hampton plays Tadd Dameron by email hidden; JavaScript is required. The book is $30; the price includes shipping costs.

As has been mentioned here before, in the 80s I was fortunate enough to attend The University of Tennessee for music school. It has to be admitted that my first university ensemble was the Pride of the Southland Marching Band. While that was a life-transforming experience, I was soon on to greener pastures in UT ensembles that were 1) more edifying, and 2) actually more fun.

picture of slide hampton

Slide Hampton plays the Indy Jazz Fest Photo: Chris Wiley

One of these ensembles was the UT Trombone Choir, which played in both the jazz and western-art-music traditions. It was directed by the trombone professor, Don Hough. Importantly, in the recent past previous to my joining the trombone choir, that ensemble had achieved a remarkable claim to fame by playing and performing with legendary jazz trombonist Slide Hampton. There was a cassette tape of the resulting UT Music Hall performance that was passed from trombonist hand to trombonist hand (no mp3s then, you ungrateful kids). On the basis of everyone’s experience with Slide’s visit, it was apparent that he 1) was pretty cool, 2) was also one of the most avid practicers in jazz, on the order of John Coltrane or Booker Little, 3) was a pretty amazing practitioner of the style of jazz referred to as “be-bop” on the slide trombone, 4) and had considerable skill as an arranger and orchestrator.

Mike Medrick, a soon-to-be trombonist chum who joined the Trombone Choir a short time later, also thought Slide was great. We’d often discuss jazz recordings. J.J.? As much as you could get your hands on. Slide on A Day in Copenhagen? A must-have. Mike was (and is) an avid arranger, and he soon was writing for both the trombone choir and UT jazz ensemble.

In the jazz program at UT run by Jerry Coker (did I mention this? The jazz department was run by Jerry Coker!), we did solo transcriptions for Coker’s Jazz Styles and Analysis class. Through Jerry, it became clear to us (if it wasn’t already) that one of the best ways to learn the nuts and bolts of jazz music is to listen to, take note of, and study what has been performed by the great practitioners of the music.

Now, just like in Back to the Future, a fair amount of time has gone by, and quickly. But the great lessons and ideas are more like constants. Accordingly, my friend Mike Medrick is back from the future with a wonderful book filled with Slide Hampton solo transcriptions. If you are any sort of musically literate student of jazz — not necessarily a trombonist — this book is well worth investigating. (See the sidebar for how to get a copy.)

Jack Teagarden Tours the Near East in 1958

In October of 1958, Jack Teagarden and his working band undertook a tour of the near east for the U.S. State Department. The trip covered eighteen countries and 17,000 miles, winding up in January of 1959. The King of Thailand, himself a saxophonist and composer, was happy to see Teagarden, someone whose music he had only enjoyed on recordings up until that time. Naturally, the King decreed a jam session at his palace — it went on for 6 hours by Teagarden’s own account. “You tell your friend Eisenhower that you’re the finest thing he’s ever sent us,” the King said.

Of one concert stop, Teagarden later remembered:

“We played a kind of fair in Laos before about two thousand people, and they just stood there for two hours, with their arms folded, the women with babies on their backs. They didn’t clap, they didn’t say anything. But they didn’t move, either. They stayed until the last note.”

It was a taxing tour for the musicians involved. Because of the ambassadorial mission, the band had to be available for unscheduled concerts and performances, which added to the expected fatigue. In Afghanistan, there was a scarcity of pianos. Most of the band’s members got the flu. Jack’s bassist, Stan Puls, got appendicitis and had to be taken off the itinerary. He was replaced by Lee Ivory, a very capable bassist as well as an active duty serviceman (and apparently a reporter for Stars and Stripes).

In the amazing kinescope shown here, we pick up the band near the end of its tour in Japan. Teagarden looks gaunt — he had contracted uremia during this leg — but is otherwise in good musical form, as he always seemed to be. This TV-film is incomplete — some of the reels were apparently loaned out and never returned. A Japanese band plays and grapples (well) with the style that Teagarden and company tossed off without seeming to try. Jack performs with a studio orchestra next; included are Stars Fell on Alabama, Diane, Peg O’ My Heart, and Indiana. This studio orchestra format was becoming more common in Jack’s later recordings for Capitol Records. The working band returns for When the Saints Go Marching In.

Jack Teagarden’s working band, shown in the film:

  • Max Kaminsky, trumpet
  • Jerry Fuller, clarinet
  • Don Ewell, piano
  • Lee Ivory, bass
  • Ronnie Greb, drums

In July of 1959, Jack recorded the King of Thailand’s tune, When for Roulette Records.

Teagarden later said of the trip’s mission, “All the music I’ve played has finally paid off. I feel that I did some good for America.”