Monday, September 30, 2013

potentials & probabilities 
noting the years of publication

1903     St. Louis Rag by Tom Turpin
            played by Bob Milne {1990s}

1903     Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider
            Hoosier Hot Shots 1935

1913     Peg O’ My Heart
            Miff Mole & his World Jam Session Band 1944

1913     Memphis Blues
            Katherine Handy Lewis with James P. Johnson 1944

1913     He’d Have to Get Under - Get Out and Get Under
            Will Halley 1913

1913     Sailing Down the Chesapeake Bay
            Bob Milne {1990s}

1913     The Curse of an Aching Heart
            Fats Waller & his Rhythm 1936

1923     Dizzy Fingers
            Paul Weston as Jonathan Edwards 1957

1923     Farewell Blues
            New Orleans Rhythm Kings 1922

1923     Swinging Down the Lane
            Isham Jones Orchestra 1930

1923     Sugar Blues
            Alex Belhaj’s Crescent City Quartet 2013

1923     You’ve Gotta See Mama Every Night
            Bunk Johnson Trio 1946

1923     Bugle Call Rag
            Cannon’s Jug Stompers 1928

1923     Old Fashioned Love
            James P Johnson’s Orchestra 1939

1923     Cielito Lindo
            Wilbur DeParis “Dixieland in Binaural Sound” 1953

1923     Who’s Sorry Now?
            Wild Bill Davison & his Commodores 1945

1933     Dr. Heckle & Mr. Jibe
            Dorsey Brothers Orchestra 1933

1933     Flying Down to Rio
            written by Vincent Youmans
            Paul Trueblood and Rita Segree, pianos {1960s}


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Face the Music 9.26.13 – recent recordings!

Alex Belhaj’s Crescent City Quartet’s new album “Sugar Blues”
Pete Siers Trio’s new album “Krupa”

Weary Blues

Wire Brush Stomp

Careless Love

St. Louis Blues

Viper Mad

Back Home in Indiana

Four or Five Times

Stompin’ at the Savoy

Tiger Rag

Limehouse Blues

The word tradition is derived from the Latin tradere, signifying cultural elements that are handed along for the good of all. It’s the same etymological root as the word trade. Traditions can and do work both ways. The musicians of today give back to musical ancestors who continue to send us gifts and messages. Magic from the dawn of the 20th century re-manifests in the 21st

Periodically, Alexander Belhaj’s strongly steeped devotion to living tradition transports him and his guitar to New Orleans where he sits in and absorbs the continuum firsthand. Alex, like Marty Grosz, is a predominately chordal guitarist and a devoted follower of the great Al Casey. Listen deeper and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the spirits of Bernard Addison, Teddy Bunn, Dick McDonough, Eddie Lang and Bill Basie’s rhythm man Freddie Green. Alex is a gentle soul whose friendliness, diligence and sincerity are all too uncommon in a hard-boiled world.

For this recording project Alex assembled an intimate group of skilled improvisers who share his passion for music from the 1920’s and ‘30s. Clarinetist Ray Heitger has served for many years as Toledo, Ohio’s grand interpreter of traditional jazz. His inspired solos and visceral vocals bring caloric urgency to any gathering. Regular engagements with Paul Klinger’s Easy Street Jazz Band, in fact, have sent tremors throughout the far west side of Ann Arbor. Heitger’s playing invites visitations from clarinet legends Jimmie Noone, Rudy Powell, Omer Simeon and {when Ray really gets to feeling right} even Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

Cornetist Dave Kosmyna has devoted much of his life to the early strata of the jazz tradition. His Great Lakes peregrinations include distinguished service in Buffalo, Toronto, Toledo and Ann Arbor. While basking in the glow of his horn you might feel Herman Autrey, Lee Collins, Joe Oliver and Rex Stewart hanging out at the table near the back. Alex Belhaj’s Crescent City Quartet is anchored and illuminated by Hamtramck-based string bassist Jordan Schug. Also a master cellist, Schug has worked with Paul Keller’s Orchestra and the Hot Club of Detroit. The interaction between mister Belhaj and mister Schug is particularly gratifying.

Alex has selected his weave of stomps, blues and spirituals most carefully. In choosing to perform melodies by Louis Cottrel, Clarence Williams, Artie Matthews and the Mississippi Sheiks, he has demonstrated a keen awareness of our cultural legacy. The heart of this album may be found in the cluster of tunes that includes “Four or Five Times”, “His Eye is On the Sparrow” and “Viper Mad”, a defiantly hedonistic number premiered by Noble Sissle and Sidney Bechet in 1938. The CCQ’s realization of this ode to Mezz Mezzrow’s favorite herbal analgesic features a spirited group vocal similar to what Ann Arborites have come to expect from Phil Ogilvie’s Rhythm Kings. Impressionable souls may feel the need to stand up and strut around with one index finger in the air.

arwulf arwulf
ann arbor


Krupa Pete Siers Trio
featuring Dave Bennett & Tad Weed               rewritten 8/08/13
2013 PKO 061

Please take note, because this is good news of the highest order. Percussionist Pete Siers, clarinetist Dave Bennett and pianist Tad Weed have put together a tribute to drummer and bandleader Gene Krupa, and it’s guaranteed to alter your central nervous system in all the right ways. Usually remembered as the dynamo behind Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”, Krupa also attracted attention when he magnified the impact of his own orchestra by featuring Roy Eldridge and Anita O’Day. Although he began recording as a leader in 1935, Krupa’s discography really reaches back to 1927 when he strained the parameters of studio recording technology as a member of the Eddie Condon Mob. Krupa’s inspirations and influences constitute fundamental links with the very bedrock of traditional jazz drumming. They included Warren “Baby” Dodds, Zutty Singleton and Chick Webb.

For this project Pete zeroed in on the trio recordings that Krupa made for Columbia and V-Disc in 1945, and for Clef, the precursor to Verve, in 1952. Pete’s choices are characteristically insightful and astute. Maybe you’ll notice a pair of intriguing titles amongst the more familiar struts, stomps, swing tunes and ballads. “Number Ten Richie Drive” was the street address of Krupa’s pad up in Yonkers, while “Fine’s Idea”, originally arranged by saxophonist Charlie Ventura, is largely based on the chord progressions of Edgar Sampson’s “Blue Lou”. It occupies a special niche in the collective classic jazz discography alongside “The Count’s Idea” and “The Duke’s Idea” by Charlie Barnet; the bop standard “Ray’s Idea” and something called “Pig’s Idea” which was recorded in 1940 by a Chicago-based pre-bop string band billed as the Cats and the Fiddle. Collectively credited to Krupa, Ventura and pianist Teddy Napoleon, “Fine’s Idea” is a lively modern-sounding piece of work, very like the mercurial maneuverings of Artie Shaw’s Gramercy Five. It’s worth noting that during the Korean War, Krupa’s threesome took themselves all the way to Tokyo where Ventura startled fans at the Ernie Pyle Theater by whipping out a bass saxophone.

Cut to Southeastern Michigan nearly sixty years later, and if you’re like me the Pete Siers Trio’s Krupa is likely to knock you on your ass. Tad Weed’s creative dexterity is nothing short of breathtaking. A monstrously adept improviser, he is capable of reinventing the wheel while the rig is rolling in fourth gear. Remember how Jaki Byard could invoke the entire history of jazz piano at one sitting, and sometimes within the construct of one tune? Tad is comparably brilliant. Dave Bennett sometimes conveys the impression that he can play the clarinet inside out. Taken in combination with Mr. Weed’s disarming ingenuity, Bennett’s virtuosity is downright jaw-dropping. He combines the fluency of Buster Bailey, Rudy Powell and Benny Goodman with the early modern sensibilities of Artie Shaw, Marshall Royal and Buddy De Franco. Pete’s extraordinary command of the drum kit is the direct result of a lifelong devotion to Krupa and a sanguine pantheon of drummers from all over the traditional spectrum. Watching him at work is always a gas. Last time I heard him with the Easy Street Jazz Band, Pete appeared to be nonchalantly conjuring the spirits of Big Sid Catlett as well as Condon cohorts George Wettling and Davy Tough. How’re you going to beat that?

I’m ready to throw done at this point and declare without exaggeration that Pete Siers’ Krupa is one of the great jazz albums of the past quarter century. The overall effect is that of a vitamin shot and several deep breaths of fresh night air garnished with black coffee and tiramisu. The ballads are superb, and the upbeat numbers—most of the set—are precisely what the doctor forgot to order. For selection, interpretation, inspiration and sheer musicianship, what the Pete Siers Trio has given us here is an exceptionally wonderful offering. I’m fully convinced that Mr. Krupa would be pleased, proud and thankful.

arwulf arwulf - august 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

Face the Music 9/19/13
Anamule Dance No.5

Centipede Still Walks
Alex Balhaj 2007

Kitten on the Keys
{Zez Confrey 1921}
Eteri Andjaparidze 1995

Tiger Rag
mouth organ virtuoso Larry Adler 1935

Wild Cat
Joe Venuti & Eddie Lang
violin & guitar duo 1927

Horsey! Keep Your Tail Up
The Detroit Melodists
recorded in London 1924

Got To Cool My Doggies Now
Mamie Smith & her Jazz Hounds 1922

Hooking Cow Blues
Handy’s Orchestra of Memphis 1917

Kansas City Kitty
The Cotton Pickers 1929

Black Cat on the Fence
Big Eye Louis Nelson De Lisle 1949

Heifer Dust
Will Ezell 1929

The Lion and the Lamb
Willie the Lion Smith
with Joe Bushkin &
George Wettling 1938

The Wolf Wobble
Joe Venuti’s Rhythm Boys 1931

Sendin’ the Vipers
Mezz Mezzrow & his Orchestra 1934

Bear Cat Crawl
Meade Lux Lewis live at Cafe Society 1939

Cattin’ at Keynote
Coleman Hawkins Quintet - February 1944

Flyin’ Hawk
Coleman Hawkins Quartet
with Thelonious Monk – October 1944

Yard Dog Mazurka
Jimmie Lunceford & his Orchestra 1941

Yard Dog
Roy Eldridge & his Orchestra 1946

Yard Dog
Roy Eldridge Quintet
with Buddy Tate 1951

Monday, September 9, 2013

Face the Music 9.12.13
Anamule Dance No.4

Dog Bottom
Chick Webb &
“The Jungle Band” 1929

Red Norvo 1933

Pink Elephants
Venuti & Lang 1933

Ducky Wucky
Duke Ellington & his Orchestra 1932

Mosquito’s Parade {published in 1899}
White Star Orchestra 1997

Easy Street Jazz Band 2001

Alligator Crawl
Doc Cook & his
14 Doctors of Syncopation 1927

Tiger Rag Blues
Breaux Brothers
{Louisiana Cajuns, early 1930s}

Buzzin’ Around with the Bee
Lionel Hampton & his Orchestra 1937

Toadie Toddle
Andy Kirk & his Clouds of Joy 1938
vocal by Ben Thigpen

Snaky Feeling
Harlan Leonard & his Rockets 1940

Root Hog or Die
Harlem Hamfats 1937

Big Cat, Little Cat
Dan Burley & his Skiffle Boys 1946

Duke Ellington & his Orchestra 1940

Peter and the Wolf
Benny Goodman & his Orchestra 1942

Swan Lake
Eddie Condon & his
Dixieland All-Stars 1956

The Eel
Bud Freeman with the
Lawson-Haggart Jazz Band 1971

Old Hen Cackled, Laid a Double Egg
Fife & Drum Band from the Deep South
{Ephram Carter, Floyd Bussey, James Jones & J.W. Jones}
recorded in Waverly Hall, Georgia 1970

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Face the Music 9.05.13
Anamule Dance No.3

Mule Walk
James P. Johnson piano solo 1943
Originally released on a
twelve inch 78 rpm Blue Note record

Frog Tongue Stomp
Lovie Austin’s Blues Serenaders 1926

Wolverine Blues
Jelly Roll Morton Trio
with Johnny & Warren “Baby” Dodds 1927

I’m Looking for a Little Bluebird
Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers 1930

Bull Frog Blues
Charles Pierce Orchestra 1928

Black Horse Stomp
Fletcher Henderson Orchestra 1926

Camel Hop
Red Nichols with the Hottentotts 1925

Buffalo Rag
Vess L. Ossman banjo solo 1909

Yellow Dog Blues
W.C. Handy’s Memphis Blues Band 1922

Cat’s Head
Joe Manone’s Harmony Kings 1927

Three Blind Micesky
Slam Stewart Trio 1945
with Erroll Garner &
Harold “Doc” West

That’s What the Bird Sang to Me
Fats Waller on V-Disc September 1943
{note that Waller clearly says & sings the word “sang”, not “said”}

Dance of the Octopus
Red Norvo, marimba 1933
with Benny Goodman blowing bass clarinet

Crawfish Blues
Barney Bigard with
Zutty Singleton’s Creole Band 1944

Kat’s Fur
Ben Webster 1944

Viper’s Dream
Quintette of the Hot Club de France 1937

Swinging the Elks
Jelly Roll Morton’s Hot Seven 1940

Tiger Rag
Washboard Rhythm Kings 1932