On Feb 28, 1933, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Jimmy Dorsey, Adrian Rollini and Phil Wall went to the Columbia recording studios in New York City and waxed four excellent sides under the name of Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang's Blue Five.
265066 Raggin' the Scale Col 2765-D
265067 Hey! Young Fellow! Col (E) CB 601
265068 Jig Saw Puzzle Blues Col 2782
265069 Pink Elephants Col (E) CB 601
Joe, Eddie, Jimmy and Adrian were Bix's buddies and recorded several sides with him. Pianist Phil Wall was a buddy of Sylvester Ahola and made several recordings with Paul Specht.
Listen to these fantastic recordings!
Jig Saw Puzzle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JYYhYlNIyI&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLBE499E8DEC85A816
Pink Elephants http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZfV6UyAE0Y
Raggin'the Scale http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9L8p3DAG8k
Hey! Young Fellow! http://www.redhotjazz.com/songs/venuti/hey.ra
Here is a short review of these four recordings in the 1957 issue of Gramophone. (OCR introduces errors. AH)
This kind of intimate jazz has not staled with the years ; instead it has taken on a mellowness that makes listening to it in the hubbub of today a refreshing experience. The giant Rollini, so recently removed from our ken, is at his versatile best here, and we take a sad farewell forever on record of Eddie Lang as a soloist. Venuti is the master technician as ever, never using his ability as an end for getting cheap applause, and the overall effect is almost unique in jazz for the restrained gaiety it suggests. Jimmy Dorsey is a bit show-off, even resembling Rudy Wiedoeft in places, but to offset this there is the Venuti-Lang-Rollini triumvirate that never fails.
Here are Eddie Lang specialist Mike Peters' notes in the Mosaic set on Venuti and Lang.
For what would be the final Venuti-Lang recording session, Joe and Eddie brought together two of the greatest instrumentalists of the previous decade. Both Jimmy Dorsey and Adrian Rollini had contributed stunning performances and several earlier Blue Four dates, but they had never recorded together under Joe and Eddie's leadership until now. The results produced fireworks. It is arguably their greatest session as an ensemble, and with it, Venuti and Lang perfected their concept of interpreting jazz with a wind and string ensemble. Each three-minute side is a study in small group arranging, interpretation and collective and individual performance. They use every element of the Venuti-Lang formula to perfection. The repertoire has them taking a look back while also making strides forward as they gloriously rearrange two current pop songs, they invent one classic, and concoct a last minute original.
Joe and Eddie had already recorded Raggin' the Scale in 1930 with a quartet that included Rollini. Three years later, expanded to a quintet, they produced a masterpiece. (Of note: the final sixteen bars has Joe and Jimmy going at it together over the pulsating rhtym section. Perfection!) When Venuti heard Dorsey's clarinet play the opening strain of Hey! Young Fella in 1977 (having last heard the record some five decades earlier), he bellowed out the son's title and said "I got fifty potatoes (dollars) for recording that." He then sat listening in silence as the record played on, obviously satisfied with the results. (That's Joe playing bass for the chorus behind Rollini's vibe). Fans of the pop group Fleetwood Mac may recognize the title Jigg Saw Puzzle Blues. In 1968, Mac guitarist Danny Kirwan swiped parts of Jimmy Dorseu's clarinet solo and built a song around it. The 1933 original recording features 12 bars of single-string guitar that starts out bluesy but ends in a string of notes. When it came to showing off one's chops, few could compete with Jimmy Dorsey. A master of the reeds and a very good cornet player, Dorsey struts his stuff on Pink Elephants. By the introduction you can appreciate the depth at which musicians related to each other as they seamlessly set up the song by trading one-bar phrases. Few did it better. (MP)
A foursome of masterpieces by a quintet of masters, among my favorite recordings in the whole world.