A nice blast from both pasts

by Mark Gabrish Conlan

Hearing WBIX #1 was a nice blast from two pasts -- the past of the recordings included in it and the past of your history as a cyber-broadcaster -- and even though it's clear you know a lot more about how to put a show like this together now than you did then, it was really welcome to hear this.

The two Bix comparisons were interesting. The "Riverboat Shuffle" pairing (the Wolverines and Trumbauer) is pretty well known but the "My Pet" one is rarely done, mainly because though Bix is audible on both the Trumbauer and Whiteman versions he doesn't have an actual solo on either. I must say I'm so spoiled by the marvelous CD "The Complete Wolverines: 1924-1928" (co-produced by Forumite David Sager) that it's hard to listen to the muffled transfers these recordings got from earlier editions.

The other tracks aren't direct comparisons but are interesting nonetheless. It was lovely to hear Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang in full cry on "Stringing the Blues" and "Wild Cat" even though this version of "Wild Cat" is nearly half a minute longer than the one I had on an archive.org download and the Yazoo CD "Joe Venuti: Violin Jazz, 1927-1934." (The Yazoo disc's booklet claims that theirs is a 1928 version that adds Frank Signorelli on piano, but it isn't.) I suspect you worked from a transfer made by someone who had slowed down the original record and changed its tempo, pitch and duration.

There were skips in both the Venuti "Wild Cat" and the California Ramblers' "Sidewalk Blues" (which is available from archive.org as part of a package of this band, in a clean version lasting about 10 seconds longer than yours). Also, Brian Rust disagrees with your dates on these records: he has "Wild Cat" being recorded on January 24, 1927 (not June 4) and the extended Edison "Sidewalk Blues" on December 9, 1926 (not April 16). "Sidewalk Blues" is a nice side and Chelsea Quealey is especially fine, while "Vibraphonia" has been a favorite of mine since I got the Venuti-Lang-Rollini "Hell's Bells and Hallelujah" LP in 1973. Whatever Rollini is playing in that weird solo in the middle (the liner of the LP says it's a goofus but you say it's a hot fountain pen), it's great and adds to the devil-may-care wildness of the side!

The two Vincent Giordano pieces were lovely as usual -- though I could have done without that fire siren sound effect at the start of "Hurricane" -- but frustrating because this early you only rarely gave personnel listings for the records played. Looking on the Internet for the "Quality Shout" CD I got a listing for the horn players -- Peter Ecklund and Jon-Eric Kellso on cornets, Herb Gardner on trombone and Giordano, Jack Stuckey, Scott Robinson and Daniel Block on reeds -- but no one in the four-piece (piano, banjo, brass bass and drums) rhythm section.

Posted on Jan 6, 2018, 3:19 PM

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