Krupa, NOT Morehouse, on Carmichael Victor session

by Chris Tyle

This subject came up yesterday on the Facebook group, THE JAZZ AGE. I am posting my thoughts here, as I believe a grievous error has been made regarding this session.

First off, I mean no disrespect to the memory of Chauncey Morehouse, a fine drummer and percussionist.

For years I had assumed the drummer on Carmichael's September 15, 1930 date to be Krupa, simply because on the copy I owned of Victor 25371 (the one included in the Bix Beiderbecke memorial album issued by Victor in the late 1930s), Krupa's name is listed among the personnel. This, at a time when Krupa, and indeed the rest of the group except Bix, were still alive.

Although I don't know the reason behind Morehouse's name appearing in the discographies, it seems it may have been Phil Evans who suggested Morehouse. (It would be interesting to know the basis for this information, but it really has little to do with the evidence I present below).

To understand fully why Krupa is the drummer on the Carmichael session, it's necessary to compare the drumming with that on Bix's session a week before the Carmichael session - specifically, a comparison between the drumming on "Deep Down South" and Carmichael's "Bessie Couldn't Help It."

First of all, the approach used by Krupa is almost exactly the same on both tunes. He begins playing press rolls on the snare drum during the introduction, followed by a choke cymbal to signal the two bar break before the opening chorus. At the end of the first eight bars on BOTH sides, he plays the open cymbal. On "Deep" he hits the cymbal twice at a point between the chorus and the verse. On "Bessie," he makes the exact same double-tap on the cymbal on bar five of the verse.

Moving ahead, on both records Krupa plays a little fill before the solo section, then plays ride cymbal behind the soloists: on "Bessie," Bud Freeman, on "Deep," Bix. (These are very early examples on record of a drummer playing ride cymbal - something we have no recorded evidence of Morehouse doing during this period.) (It should be noted, the ride cymbal is heard only on take 2 of Bessie. On take 1 Krupa plays the ride cymbal pattern on a cymbal he is choking with his left hand).

Moving on to the last chorus on BOTH records, Krupa plays choke cymbal.

A very important point to establish Krupa's presence is his equipment sounds EXACTLY the same on both recordings. Two different drummers will have different sounding cymbals, cowbells, tom-toms and will tune their drums differently. The timbre of the equipment is the same on both recordings.

A technical musical point regarding Krupa vs. Morehouse. Gene always played slightly on top of the beat, a trick used by jazz drummers to give the feeling of forward momentum or swing. Morehouse's playing was always dead center on the beat, without the lift that Krupa had.

To add even more weight to my argument, there is the mention in an interview with Krupa, that HE was the drummer on the Carmichael session. Why would he say he was - if he wasn't? The man was a good enough person and musician to know his own playing, and as a retired musician I would never say I was on a record I wasn't. It makes no sense.

To conclude, consider the playing behind Bix's solo on "Barnacle BIll the Sailor." There is not one example of Morehouse ever playing with the fire displayed behind Bix, who quite honestly rips into a solo unlike anything he played previously on record.


Posted on Dec 1, 2017, 1:03 AM

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