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  • mistermuse 1:33 am on January 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Benny Goodman, , , , , , , old time camp meeting,   


    It has been some time since I devoted a post to one of my passions, namely CLASSIC JAZZ, so what say we ramble on down to the old camp meeting and get some jazz religion? If you’re not a classic jazz lover, perhaps it’s because you’ve never been exposed or open to the sound of America’s own indigenous music, with its roots in late 19th century ragtime, gospel and blues, among other influences. So I’m making it my mission (and New Year’s resolution) to deliver you from that sin of omission in your musical faith upbringing.

    One of the greatest pioneering jazzmen was New Orleans-born Joseph “King” Oliver, mentor of Louis Armstrong, who made a number of historic jazz records beginning in 1923, including CAMP MEETING BLUES. Here is the beginning of that primitive recording, which transitions beautifully (after 37 seconds) into the PERUNA JAZZMEN’s 1988 faithful-to-the-original rendering:

    Next, we turn to an even more recent rendering of an even older Camp Meeting song:


    Our last Camp Meeting is a Swing era classic from another king, the King of Swing, Benny Goodman:

    Now that you have seen the light, go and sin no more.


    Oh….and Happy New Year!


  • mistermuse 5:27 pm on November 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Benny Goodman, Bix, Fud Livingston, I'm Through With Love, , , , Red Nichols,   


    There’s a new link called “Jazz Between The Wars” on my Blogroll, by way of reader Ken Hagel giving a Like to my previous post. That like led me to check out his Jazz blog, which in turn led to one of his posts I found particularly interesting, titled “You Took Advantage Of Me” (Nov. 14). I look forward to re-visiting Ken’s blog from time to time for more goodies from those golden years of jazz.

    For now, I’d like to expand a bit on the subject of that Nov. 14 piece, Joseph “Fud” Livingston. For one thing, I was curious as to how he got that curious nickname, “Fud.” But, though I spent nearly an hour researching Google sites and my own jazz books, I could find no record of how, or at what age, that name was acquired — so I remain befuddled (get it — befuddled — ha ha ha). Perhaps it came from a boyhood fondness for fudge, but that’s just a guess (OK, I’m fudging….but when it comes to fudge, what else would I do).

    In any case, Fud was no dud as a 1920s-30s clarinetist, saxophonist and arranger for such jazz giants as Red Nichols, Bix Beiderbecke, Benny Goodman and Jimmy Dorsey. He also wrote songs, including the great standard I’m Through With Love (1931 – lyrics by Gus Kahn). A native of Charleston, South Carolina (born April 10, 1906), he was an alcoholic who died at age 50, reportedly a broken man. Nonetheless (quoting Jack McCray of the Charleston Jazz Initiative), Fud “was charming, charismatic, had a great sense of humor….and he never met a person with whom he couldn’t have a good time.”

    Quoting Fud’s nephew, Wm. Gaffield: Upon entering a nightclub, Fud would slip the doorman a $20 bill for a front row seat, whereupon he would be recognized by the bandleader who would then have his band play ‘I’m Thru With Love’ while the house spotlight was turned upon the table with Fud and his date.
    The man obviously knew how to impress his lady friends.

    And I hope you will be impressed by his song, sung here by Marilyn Monroe in this clip from SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959):

    • arekhill1 8:39 pm on November 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Unfortunately, nowadays FUD is a brand of Mexican lunchmeat–(to which I can attest–I’ve eaten the stuff) or an acronym for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. It’s easy to see why they call them the good old days.


    • mistermuse 11:42 pm on November 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” sounds like a good name for an agnostic rock band. There may actually be such a band, but I’m not dying to know. I can live with Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.


    • Don Frankel 5:04 am on November 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Keep ’em alive Muse, keep ’em alive. I never heard of this guy but I definitely knew the music. As to being befuddled not to worry, as “Well, nobody’s perfect!”


    • mistermuse 8:14 am on November 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Nobody’s perfect? Speak for yourself, Don — ha ha ha. But seriously, folks – for anyone who doesn’t know where the quote “Well, nobody’s perfect!” comes from, it’s the perfect closing line in SOME LIKE IT HOT.


  • mistermuse 6:20 pm on November 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Benny Goodman, , , , Lucky Luciano, Maple Leaf Rag, Scott Joplin, , The Entertainer, The Sting, Treemonisha   


    Today is the birthday (11/24/1896) of Charles “Lucky” Luciano, the infamous NYC Mafia gangster….but I’ll leave the celebrating to murder, mayhem and mobster lovers. I’m a jazz lover, and it’s my lucky day because I get to celebrate the birthdays of my favorite jazz pianist, Teddy Wilson (1912) and my favorite ragtime composer/pianist, Scott Joplin (1868).

    Teddy and Scott who, you ask? Well, they were (and remain) unsurpassed in their artistry, but I forgive your unfamiliarity, because Wilson’s renown failed to survive the post-WWII pop music climate change and subsequent rock revolution, and Joplin was underappreciated even in his own time.

    There have been many great jazz pianists, but Teddy Wilson has long been my favorite. I could try to explain why, but why add more superlatives to this entry in Roger Kinkle’s THE COMPLETE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF POPULAR MUSIC AND JAZZ 1900-1950:
    Master jazz pianist. Consumate artist with flawless taste, delicate touch and ideas, subdued, relaxed and easily identifiable style. Prominence middle to late 30s with Benny Goodman combos. Same period led combos on dozens of classic jazz record dates. Acme of relaxed, swinging combo jazz. Billie Holiday featured predominately on vocals. 

    Here is some of that great Teddy Wilson/Billie Holiday “magic”:

    Scott Joplin pioneered ragtime music. His most famous compositions were MAPLE LEAF RAG (1899) and THE ENTERTAINER (1902). Those songs may not ring a bell, but you’ve heard them if you saw the great Paul Newman/Robert Redford film THE STING (1973) — every song on the Academy Award-winning soundtrack was a Scott Joplin rag and helped spark a national revival of his ragtime music. He died in 1917, a few years after the failure of his  African-American opera Treemonisha, which was revived to well-deserved acclaim in 1972. Here are clips from that wonderful production:

    • arekhill1 6:38 pm on November 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      “Tremonisha” could stand to be revived again, I expect…hopefully we’ll see it down the road.


    • mistermuse 8:50 pm on November 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      TREEMONISHA was produced on TV in Feb. 1986 by the Houston Grand Opera Company. I taped it at the time and I think I still have the old VHS tape in my collection that I haven’t gone through in years. It is truly a memorable experience.


    • scifihammy 12:52 am on November 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Yay! Great jazz! Took me right back to my childhood and my dad playing the piano for me at home. Thanks for the treat 🙂


    • mistermuse 6:21 am on November 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      As always, my pleasure.


    • ladysighs 7:46 am on November 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Listening as I go through my Reader. 🙂 Music is making me read real fast. lol Speeding through the blogs at a jazzy pace. 🙂


    • mistermuse 9:01 am on November 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      “Sounds” like you’re a good multi-tasker. That’s “Nice Work If You Can Get It” (remember that oldie?). I’d rather concentrate solely on listening to the music, but “To Each His Own.”


    • linnetmoss 12:31 pm on November 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Love them both. Here’s to the Maple Leaf Rag 🙂


    • mistermuse 4:44 pm on November 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

    • Don Frankel 6:30 am on November 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Muse those old gangsters were great proponents of Jazz as they owned a lot of the clubs everyone played in. I remember in one of your articles the very funny story told by Fats Waller’s son about how Al Capone had more or less kidnapped his father so he could listen to him play.

      You know I probably couldn’t tell you too much about Teddy Wilson but I recognized his piano playing.


    • mistermuse 10:46 am on November 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I remember that story, Don. The gangsters had good taste in those days (at least, in music)!


  • mistermuse 8:25 pm on December 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Benny Goodman, Buster Bailey, , Cootie Williams, , , Fletcher Henderson, , George Stevens, , J.C.Higginbotham, , , Red Allen, Rex Stewart, Sid Catlett   


    Today I’d like to pay tribute to two giants of jazz and film born on this date: Fletcher Henderson, jazz immortal, born Dec. 18, 1898, and George Stevens, master film director, born Dec. 18, 1904. Though gone from the scene for decades, both have left records of creative achievement in their respective fields which have stood the test of time for mortals who appreciate such things.

    FLETCHER HENDERSON, nicknamed “Smack” for his habit of smacking his lips, was a trailblazing jazz arranger and leader of outstanding big bands for two decades. At various times from 1924 to 1935, his band included such jazz greats as Louis Armstrong, Rex Stewart, Cootie Williams, Red Allen, Buster Bailey, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Sid Catlett and J. C. Higginbotham. In early 1935 he broke up his band and began arranging for the fledgling Benny Goodman Orchestra, launching the new and exciting sound of the swing era which would define American popular music until WWII. Although he put together another band in 1936 and had one hit record, within a few years Henderson had disbanded in the face of heavy competition. Thereafter he worked primarily as an arranger between short stints leading big bands. He suffered a major stroke in 1n 1950 and died Dec. 29, 1952. According to jazz critic Stanley Dance, Henderson’s was the first big jazz band and set the standard for many to come. Here is a typical Fletcher Henderson swinger:


    GEORGE STEVENS, though you may not remember his name, directed some of the best movies you have seen, if you are a classic-film fan. These include (in chronological order):

    ALICE ADAMS (1935), starring Katherine Hepburn and Fred MacMurray.
    SWING TIME (1936), the best (in my opinion) of the Astair-Rogers musicals, with outstanding Jerome Kern-Dorothy Fields songs, including the Oscar-winning “The Way You Look Tonight.”
    A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS (1937), the first Astaire musical without Ginger Rogers, nonetheless notable for its George Gershwin score (his last before his premature death that same year). Joan Fontaine co-stars as the English “damsel in distress.”
    GUNGA DIN (1939), starring Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

    WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1942), starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in their first picture together. Oscar-winning screenplay by Ring Lardner Jr. and Michael Kanin.
    THE TALK OF THE TOWN (1942), starring Cary Grant, Ronald Colman and Jean Arthur.
    THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943), starring Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn. Stevens was Academy Award nominee for Best Director.

    A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951), starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. Academy Award winner for Best Director.
    SHANE (1953), one of the all-time great Westerns, starring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur and Jack Palance.
    GIANT (1956), starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean. Academy Award winner for Best Director.
    THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (1959). Film version of well-known true story of Jewish refugees hiding in WWII Amsterdam. I can especially relate to this film, having actually been decades ago in the building (now a museum) where Anne hid with her family and others and wrote her diary.

    Here is a clip from Stevens’ A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS, in which Fred Astaire is doing his best to escape detection behind the chorus during a function at the castle where damsel Joan Fontaine resides:


    THE END of our post (but not of our inheritance)

    • Michaeline Montezinos 8:21 pm on January 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I was more interested in the movies you selected that were directed by George Stevens than the music, sorry. I have watched each and every one of these films many times and they are some of my favorites, I used to watch a lot of television during my recovery periods after my joint replacements. Of course, I had to go out for the physical therapy but it was a pleasure when my husband set up the old Samsung in my room. I appreciate the Barbra Striesand movies more now although they tend to be more like musicals, Just saw THE WAY WE WERE with Robert Redford last night while I was puttering around. I did not have the opportunity to visit the room where Anne Frank stayed in Amsterdam as you did but I did get a copy of her book from the library. I cried after I finished it.


    • mistermuse 10:28 pm on January 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I love almost all of the George Stevens’ movies listed in this post, but the one I’ve seen the most and could still see again and again is SWING TIME. I just checked a youtube clip of the “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off” scene where Fred dances Ginger around the dance studio floor to show her boss how much she has taught him – it has had an amazing 5,722,000+ views, so obviously I’m not alone in my admiration. I first saw this about 60 years ago in an “art theater” before it began appearing on TV, and I’ll never forget the audience spontaneously & loudly applauding at the end of that scene — something almost unheard of in those days. .


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