WE INTERRUPT THIS SERIES….

….of Golden Age vocalists to note the birthday of one of the all-time great composers in American musical history, Richard Rodgers (6/28/1902-12/30/79). His pairings with lyricists Lorenz Hart and (later) Oscar Hammerstein II produced some of the most enduring Broadway shows ever to grace the Great White Way….and a list of recordings and performances of his all-time standards would stretch notably and lyrically from the South Pacific to Oklahoma! To mention but a few: MY HEART STOOD STILL, WITH A SONG IN MY HEART, BLUE MOON, THE LADY IS A TRAMP, PEOPLE WILL SAY WE’RE IN LOVE, SOME ENCHANTED EVENING….and this scorcher from-the-Hart collaboration:

Rodgers famously disapproved of Lee’s scintillating rendition (as contrasted with this slow Cook-er):

….not to mention this rather bizarre rendition of a song from a Walt Disney production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical version of Cinderella, which probably had the old-school Rodgers turning over in his cremated ashes:

We close with a rare treasure (for classic jazz fans): an unissued take of a Rodgers & Hart tune by legendary cornetist Bix Beiderbeck, of whom his friend, the slightly older (and much longer-lived) Louis Armstrong, once said, “Lots of cats tried to play like Bix; ain’t none of them play like him yet.” This is the unissued of two takes recorded in April 1928 for Okey Records. Classic jazz fans may be interested in jazz historian Harry Oakley’s additional info which follows the clip.

“Two takes were mastered; take -C was issued on Okeh 41030 and a single test pressing of take -A (designated second choice by Okeh official Robert Stevens who signed it “RBS”) has also survived. This take has a great number of interesting differences from the issued one, especially in Bix’s clear lead all through the ensemble passages.
The record is single-sided and on the back are embossed the name and logo of the Columbia Phonograph Company, who by that time owned the Okeh label.
The history of this unique record is vague; rumour has it that it was found in a junkshop in New Jersey some 50 years ago, that it was later in Denver and that it travelled the world in a military trunk – this story was printed on the back of the only reissue LP in 1978.
None of this has been proven though – there is actually evidence that the record originates in Davenport. What IS certain is that a friend of Don O’Dette (founder of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society) from Davenport had the record and from him it went to a well known musician and Bix afficionado in 1977. The latter sold the record in 2008 on Ebay via a friend of mine.
It was reissued on LP in 1978 after John R.T. Davies did a remastering in England.
Alas, after this first re-issue the original record was never again made available and subsequent CD reissues all draw from John Davies’ old transfer with the result that the sound has always been rather dull and distorted.
However, recently I have done a full audio restoration from the original disc, using the latest techniques, and although the record is worn and heavily damaged (see picture), the sound is now quite stunning if you have good loudspeakers connected to the computer; even though the file had to be translated to MP3 format in order to upload it on internet.
Since the record turned up in Davenport it is possible that it originally belonged to Bix himself (rejected tests were often given to the artists). Moreover, after careful and extensive analysis, a highly reputable expert from Davenport who is familiar with Bix’s handwriting concluded that the writing in ink of the title and band name is probably by Bix himself. Interestingly, he has written 16-4-28 while the recording was actually done on the 17th.
Could Bix have written this some time later and forgotten the exact date? Possibly. It’s unlikely that an Okeh official would write the wrong date.
The other exciting aspect of the record is that the format is 11 inch, and a few test-grooves remain at the outer rim (alas heavily damaged by the engraved mx number which is right into these grooves – see picture) which contain some playing and talking by a few band members.
After some clarinet, bassax and piano notes the words “Damn”, “I got it” and “Take it (from) the last four” and some laughter can be distinguished. In the last sentence there was a heavy distortion over the word “from” which I cut out as it could not be made understandable. What can therefore now be heard is “Take it the last four”.