Thursday, August 09, 2012
Columbia acoustical gems, 1918-22
I'm not sure which word ("acoustical" or "acoustic") is correct when it comes to pre-microphone sound recordings, but I prefer the former. You see both words used, and it's probably not that important in the infinite haul, but you've to got to wonder, still. Certainly, either one sounds better than "horn," as in, "horn recordings." (Aren't you glad we had this talk?)
So, what horn recordings do we have today? Well, jazz and dance sides from my favorite Columbia label period, the late Teens and early Twenties. We start with two sides by the magnificent Wilbur Sweatman and his Original Jazz Orch., including my all-time favorite, Ringtail Blues (1918). This recording changed the way I experience jazz history--I first heard a copy 30+ years ago while stationed in Scotland, and I retained it in memory, almost down to the last note, staccato trumpet line, and manic drum figure. A marching band gone berserk, I called it. You'll hear a digitization of my musical memory. No, actually, you'll hear my recently acquired VG- copy of the 78.
Then, two 1918 dance masterpieces by Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch., an outfit way more interesting in terms of early jazz than the same leader's imitation-Dixieland outfit that recorded for Victor. Enter Gorman's Novelty Syncopators with the ingenious Barkin' Dog (1919), a track which--long before the days of Elvis--features a fade-out ending! Gorman, by the way, is Paul Whiteman's own Ross Gorman.
The Waldorf-Astoria Singing Orchestra's mega-campy version of The Vamp, a tune campy enough to start with, is jazzy only in the sense of being pretty peppy for 1919. Great fun, though. Meanwhile, the 1922 Frank Westphal side is a bit too labored to sound very "hot." However--I say, however--, Harry Yerke's Happy Six numbers are jazz through and through (and astonishing so, for the period). Of course, by the conventional definition of jazz--i.e., solo work, and more solo work--they're way too premeditated to count as anything but partial jazz, but Ken Burns doesn't write this blog, I do. So there.
To the acoustic/acoustical sounds: Columbia acoustical gems, 1918-22.
PLAYLIST (All restorations by me and MAGIX)
Ringtail Blues--Wilbur Sweatman's Orig. Jazz Band (Col. A-2682; 1918)
Bluin' the Blues--Same.
Sand Dunes--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch. (Col. A-2697; 1918)
Barkin' Dog--Gorman's Novelty Syncopators (Col. A-2844; 1919)
Toot, Toot, Tootsie! (Goo'Bye)--Frank Westphal and His Rainbo O. (Col. A-3706; 1922)
Why Should I Cry Over You--Knickerbocker Orch., Dir. Eddie Elkins (Same)
Wimmin (I've Got to Have Them That's All)--The Happy Six (Col. A-3542; 1921)
The Vamp--Waldorf-Astoria Singing Orch. (Col. A-2758; 1919)
Dardanella--Prince's Dance Orch. (Col. A-2851; 1919)