WBIX's #'s 254 and 255

by Mark Gabrish Conlan

Just got WBIX #255 downloaded and was surprised at how hot the Lou Gold band played! Brian Rust lists Red Nichols and Mannie Klein's brother Dave as having played trumpet with the Gold band, but neither was still associated with it when these records were made. Whoever the hot trumpet on these sides is, he's quite good, showing in the opening "Because My Baby Don't Mean 'Maybe' Now" that he'd clearly listened to Louis Armstrong as well as the usual models for white players in the 1920's, Bix and Nichols. I also quite liked the trombone on "Take Your Tomorrow", which could well be Tommy Dorsey. On the down side is that most of these records were made by labels too cheap to license the electrical process, so they're still acoustic even though they were late-1920's recordings (ironically "Hoosier Sweetheart," the earliest recording here, sounds electrical) and the typically awful vocals of Irving "Help! I'm being strangled!" Kaufman. The difference between Kaufman's singing on "Reaching for Someone" here and Bing Crosby's superb artistry on the Bix-Whiteman record of the same song tells you all you need to know about where the two singers stood artistically. (Smith Ballew on the Trumbauer recording with Andy Secrest isn't as good as Bing but he's a damned sight better than Kaufman.) It's a relief when you get to the final pair of Lou Gold recordings and we get to hear someone else sing, the surprisingly musical Harold Miller on "Changes" and one of the better white singers of the period, Harold "Scrappy" Lambert, on "Louisiana" (even though they're still competing with Bing and, in Lambert's case, with Fred Astaire on his British "Louisiana" with Al Starita as well).

There were a few glitches in WBIX #255, including a print-through from another recording on "Reaching for Someone" (I substituted an archive.org download of the track when I did my re-edit) and some confusion when you announced the Vince Giordano records as to which you would play first (at first you said "Swing That Thing" would precede "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise," then at the end you said you'd play "Stairway" first and that's what you did) and which Wainwright brother took the vocal on "Stairway." At first you said Rufus (which was correct), but later you announced the singer as "London" -- presumably meaning Rufus's brother Loudon. (Their dad was also named Loudon.) Indeed, on "The Aviator" CD the song is credited to Rufus Wainwright as performer (source of your comment that Vince Giordano wasn't credited with all the tracks on the CD on which he and his band appeared), and quite frankly I would have preferred this track if Vince had been able to keep it as the instrumental Paul Whiteman's original was instead of having to add a vocal part — and a woefully anachronistic one at that. Rufus Wainwright wasn't even trying to sound like a 1920's singer, and from my memory of the movie he wasn't trying to look like one, either. He bounced around like a modern-day rock singer instead of standing still at the microphone the way actual singers of the period did.

I also hadn't previously commented on WBIX #254, featuring trumpeter Mickey Bloom -- which ironically you posted right after David Tanner's comment about jazz musicians unfairly overshadowed by more famous brothers in the business http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/message/1486525146/Larry+vs.+Harrry+Shields). He mentioned clarinetists Harry Shields and Herb Hall, pianist-arranger-bandleader Horace Henderson (who actually wrote Glenn Miller's hit "In the Mood" in 1931, though when he recorded it with brother Fletcher's band he called it "Hot and Anxious") and trumpeter Charlie Teagarden. (Jack Teagarden had two other siblings in the business, pianist Norma and drummer Clois.) Certainly Mickey Bloom qualifies for this list (as does Cab Calloway's great blues and jazz singer and bandleader sister, Blanche Calloway), since he was far overshadowed as both musician and songwriter by his pianist brother Rube Bloom (who plays quite effectively alongside Mickey on the first two recordings on WBIX #254, "Fallin' Down" and "Milenberg Joys" with the Cotton Pickers).

Still, Mickey Bloom does quite a lot of good playing here. I wasn't sure what the point of your splicing five of his solos from Jean Goldkette's pre-Bix records was, but it sounded to me like he was a considerably "busier" player then than he became later when Bix's influence on him began to take hold. As usual, the Boyd Senter sides would be great jazz if it weren't for Boyd Senter, who does too many of his usual chicken imitations and gets in the way of some great jazz musicians (though Eddie Lang ignores the noises around him and plays impeccably as usual). I didn't like the two Edison novelty records at first but they've grown on me -- particularly "There Ought to Be a Law Against That," whose comments on male-female interactions sound all too modern today -- and some of Bloom's loveliest playing here comes under the Bill Dutton vocals on the Dorsey Brothers' "Coquette" and "The Yale Blues." The interchanges between Bloom and both Dorseys at the end of "The Yale Blues" are also quite nice.

Once again, congratulations on two more excellent WBIX programs! I always learn a lot from your efforts.

Posted on Apr 2, 2017, 2:20 PM

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