The Sax Breaks in "Riverboat Shuffle." I just discovered postings by Ron Hockett, ....

by Albert Haim

.... clarinet player with the Jim Cullum band.

Here are the relevant postings.

Posted on Jul 15, 2003, 1:57 PM by Norman Field
A correspondent in Finland, after reading my website article on Trumbauer on alto sax (as opposed to C-melody) has suggested that the startling 2-bar sax. break near the end of Tram's 'Riverboat Shuffle' (which I have always unquestioningly attributed to Tram alone) might be a split-break between Tram and another player.
I looked first at your [Jean Pierre Lion] new Bix discography to see what other reed player (apart from Tram and Murray) was present.
You list Doc Ryker as the third reed player, and indeed - as far as I understand it - attribute this entire break to him.
Although my turgid, unprepossessing and demoralised soul bends almost double under the grievous burden of it, I must ask: why it is that you assign this astonishing piece of 'hot' playing to a man who (as far as I know) makes no other such contribution to any other recording on which he appears?

The Breaks in Riverboat Shuffle: A Provocative Opinion.
Posted on Jul 16, 2003, 7:34 AM by Albert Haim
As Jean-Pierre tells us, Murray's solo is followed by a cornet break, a sax break, a guitar break and another sax break (each two bars).
Cornet Break. Of course, as JP tells us, the cornet break is Bix.
First Sax Break. I agree with Norman and disagree with mon bon ami Jean-Pierre about the first sax break: it is for certain Tram. Not two players, as your Polish friend tells you, Norman, just Tram! Listen to the sax breaks in Ostrich Walk, the other number recorded in the same session: Tram, pure and unadulterated in Ostrich Walk and the first sax break in Riverboat Shuffle. As Norman tells us, Doc Ryker was always a straight player: no hot licks, no fancy breaks, just strong, supporting ensemble player.
Guitar Break. Of course, as JP tells us, the one and only Eddie.
Second Sax Break. Here I am going to get in trouble, but, don't worry, I can take it: I've been in much more serious trouble than this. I don't hear a saxophone. It sounds to me like a kazoo or a trumpet or trombone mouthpiece. I can hear many of you saying, "He finally did it, he went off his rocker, he has to be put away. " That is what I hear. I can't help it. You guys tell me what you hear.

A Crappy vs The Improved, Remastered Recording of Riverboat Shuffle..
Posted on Jul 16, 2003, 11:29 AM by Albert Haim
The version of Riverboat Shuffle I was listening to in order to decide about the identity of the saxophone player in the two sax breaks of "Riverboat Shuffle" was from an old LP, well played and worn out. I decided to listen to Mike's remastered version (thanks for sending me a copy) for Bix Restored, volume 1. I am a convert! What a difference!! Every note, every sound is loud and clear. I should be committed: the second break is indeed a saxophone and Tram is the culprit for playing it in a weird manner. The first break is, now even more than before, certainly played by one musician only, and it is undoubtedly Trumbauer. I think that, in view of Bix's rather subdued break, Tram is trying to liven it up by going to the high register, in a way he is saying, "Anything you can do, I can do better..." Tram is the man behind both breaks.

That break!.
Posted on Jul 16, 2003, 1:23 PM by David Sager
I agree about the identity of the sax on the 2 breaks. Tram being funny...that second break is downright bovine.

The Whiteman Mississppi Mud (take 2) Tram break!.
Posted on Jul 17, 2003, 11:01 AM by Norman Field
But in the case of 'Riverboat Shuffle', the 2 Tram breaks at the end are something of a microcosm of Tram. The first break (which contains a jump of darn near two octaves) is red hot: for me at any rate, it is the 'hottest' Tram break on record.
But then, maybe he thought: 'H'mm! That was a pretty fiery break! Maybe I better play a complementary break now...' and proceeds to play what sounds to us now like 'Yeeuggh!'
But that was Tram: a guy who could very often come out with something you weren't expecting! Of course, Bix did this all the time, and his music is intact and (mostly) sublime to this day.
But 'time has laid a heavy hand' on some things... and, alas, that second sax break on 'Riverboat Shuffle' is one of them!

Tram break on Riverboat shuffle
Posted on Oct 12, 2009, 5:12 PM by Ron Hockett
Hi--I'm the clarinet player in the Jim Cullum jazz band and I'm writing to people who have mentioned Tram's breaks on Riverboat. I am convinced that these are not Tram at all but probably Doc Ryker. If you would like to discuss this further, please write. I'll endeavor to convince you why these cannot be Tram and are actually played by the alto. BOTH of them!

Riverboat breaks.
Posted on Oct 12, 2009, 5:17 PM by Ron Hockett
Hi David--
I'm quite sure those two breaks are not by Tram--please write back and I will send you my complete, illustrated argument!

Let's open the discussion again. Here is a Emrah's youtube Riverboat Shuffle.

The breaks come at 2:36 and 2:50


Posted on Feb 18, 2012, 8:28 AM

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