Connee Boswell and the revived "Original Memphis 5", 1957

by David Tenner

Since there has been some talk here of Connee Boswell in the 1950's, I would just like to mention the album "Connee Boswell and the Original Memphis Five in Hi-Fi" that was made in 1957. She is on seven of the twelve tracks; the others are instrumentals with a new "Original Memphis Five" which included Billy Butterfield on trumpet, Gene Traxler on bass, and Tony Sbarbaro on drums and three survivors from the "old" Original Memphis Five: Jimmy Lytell, Miff Mole, and Frank Signorelli.

On paper, this looks like a great combination, and it has its champions: See Will Friedwald's praise, quoted by Albert at "But after the partial success of the Oliver album, Boswell created her last important work, the apex of her entire career: 'Connee Boswell and the Original Memphis Five In Hi-Fi' (1956, Victor). It began as a project to record the ailing jazz giant Miff Mole. 'He was a great trombonist of the twenties,' she told Rich Conaty; he 'had been very sick and they didn't expect him to live. Finally he got a little better and [Victor] finally decided to ... call and ask me if I wanted to do this Dixieland album. They were going to get as many [of the Original Memphis Five] as they possibly could'...In a telephone conversation shortly before his death in 1972, Jimmy Lytell said that of the thousands of records he'd made, 'that one with Conne Boswell' was easily his favorite."

OTOH, I am aware that some in this forum do not care much for Connee Boswell's singing in the 1950's; and the Miff Mole of 1957 was not the adventurous Miff of 1927 or 1940. He was, as mentioned, not in the best of health, and on some tracks where we might expect a solo from him, instead we get Sbarbaro's kazoo...

(Incidentally, if they really wanted as many of the "old" OM5 as possible, one wonders why they didn't get Phil Napoleon. Though I am certainly not going to complain about Billy Butterfield.)

But anyway all of the tracks are available online so that you can judge for yourself:

(1) When My Sugar Walks Down the Street (with Connee):

(2) Say It Isn't So (with Connee):

(3) At the Jazz Band Ball (instrumental):

(4) Japanese Sandman (with Connee):

(5) Make Love to Me (with Connee):

(6) My Honey's Loving Arms (instrumental):

(7) Pagan Love Song (instrumental):

(8) Giannina Mia (with Connee):

(9) Singin' the Blues (instrumental this time...):

(10) All of Me (with Connee):

(11) I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate (instrumental):

(12) When the Saints Go Marching In (with Connee):

Posted on Apr 4, 2017, 9:13 AM

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