As I have a spare moment, I just wanted to share something that has been bugging me intensely ever since I started to really play this track over and over the past year or so: it's the Mason-Dixon Orchestra session of 1929, for Columbia (essentially a hot contingent from the Whiteman band). Try as I might, I cannot shake the strong sense that something more is going on in the personnel than has been commonly stated over the years, and that feeling has intensified since I played the track again this morning.
First off, I agree with Dick Sudhalter's liner notes in the Mosaic set - there IS a different guitarist on "Alabammy Snow" than is on "What A Day". "...Day" sounds like Lang, and "...Snow" is more twangy, with the strong Lang rhythm no longer present; not knowing the Snoozer Quinn style, I'm willing to go along with Quinn's presence on that track.
HOWEVER...please listen INTENTLY to the trumpet section. I realize that all the books list "Charlie Margulies - Andy Secrest" as the trumpets here (or cornets, what have you). But...tell me why there are two cornets / trumpets BOTH playing in the Bix style in the ride-out final chorus on "Alabammy Snow" ???!!!???
OK, before I get ahead of myself, let's parse this all out, starting with "What A Day". I'll grant wholeheartedly that Secrest is the lead trumpet- but where's Margulies in all this? Can YOU hear him anywhere?? Why does he HAVE to be there, anyway?? It's a jazz / hot dance session! Listen to the cornet solo later on this side - it has a warmth not exactly typical of Secrest's. Much more than "a functional simulation of the Beiderbecke style", as Dick Sudhalter put it.
But my focus is on "Alabammy Snow". The opening chorus has Secrest taking the lead trumpet (and a 2nd Bixian-style cornet is audibly noodling around). However - this is my key point: listen to the cornet bridge just before the cornet solo. The person playing the cornet bridge, and the cornet soloist, is the same person, and not the person we heard taking the lead on the first chorus. There are clams, to be sure, but the warmth and vibrato is just not that of Secrest's !! And listen to the way he punches out the near-avant-garde rhythm of high notes at the end, like a nearly-spent boxer trying to go out in a blaze of glory. This is just beyond Secrest's thought processes at the time.
Blasphemous as it may sound...I think this is Bix, hiding behind all of our collective ears for the past 78 years.
Finally, and here's the kicker - after we hear solos from Bill Rank, Tram, and Izzy Friedman - there is a rideout chorus at the end with TWO - count 'em, TWO - Bixian-style cornets both improvising at the same time.
Food for thought, eh? Listen a bunch of times and tell me what YOU think....but only after listening. The music can tell us so much.
Both tracks are on Albert's streaming audio radio show.