Nichols "artistically lost" after 1929?

by David Tenner

I would have to put the date a little bit later. He doesn't sound "lost" at all to me in 1930 records like "China Boy" and "I Want To Be Happy"

I can understand why some Red fans will always prefer his circa-1927 records with Mole, Jimmy Dorsey, etc. to even his best post-Mole records of 1929-31. The former, while they have fine solos, have more ensemble interplay (in the New Orleans tradition, however different the style); the latter are more dependent on solos and in that way look forward to the Swing Era. But I am not one to complain when so many of the 1929-31 solos (by Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, and others as well as Nichols himself) were so great. And Glenn Miller in his own way could be as ingenious an arranger as Fud Livingston had been; witness "Carolina in the Morning." All in all, Red's own judgment (quoted in Stroff's *Red Head*) seems reasonable:

"Jack T. couldn't play like Miff--why should he? His own stuff was great. Same with Sullivan and Schutt; Krupa and Berton. My new group turned out records as financially and rhythmically satisfying as the first. Jazz was becoming Swing."

BTW, Freeman's carping at Nichols seems to me ungenerous to someone who gave him an opportunity to play some of his best early solos, such as the one in "Rose of Washington Square" (where Nichols leaves Teagarden and Russell and Freeman and Sullivan plenty of room to improvise by not soloing himself!)

Posted on Sep 2, 2017, 11:07 AM

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