11/1 April - July 2011
Our 33rd Year of Publication


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The Mosaic 11 CD box set

See DEMS 10/3-5

Problems with the latest 11 CD box from Mosaic

DEMS 11/1-7

Mosaic has received consumer complaints--which I echo--that the hubs which hold the CDs in their jewel cases are in some cases way too tight, which has resulted in some folks actually breaking their CDs in the process of removing them from the aforesaid hubs. Mosaic has replaced the broken CDs free of charge. In any case, care is advised when trying to extract your CDs from stubborn hubs.
Steven Lasker

I certainly exercised care over CD2, with the result that it has taken me from the beginning of January, when I received the set, to mid-March, to prise it free and listen to it. I eventually found that the trick was to extract CD3 first (itself no easy task), and then begin to wrestle with CD2.
Roger Boyes

Comments by Michael Kilpatrick

DEMS 11/1-8

See DEMS 10/3-22

I see the recent DEMS issue reports that Steven Lasker has some liner notes detailing personnel lists and corrections (for New DESOR, etc) for some of the sessions, including:
Page 26: Sessions 3504 and 3505, 19Aug and 12Sep35. According to the liner-notes by Steven Lasker for the Mosaic 11 CD Box, Lawrence Brown was not on these sessions."
"Page 27. Session 3604, 27Feb36. According to the liner-notes by Steven Lasker for the Mosaic 11 CD Box, Billy Taylor plus Hayes Alvis and Otto Hardwick played on all four selections. Joe Nanton only played on Isn't Love the Strangest Thing?"
"Page 41. Session 3906 and 3907, 20 and 21Mar39. According to the liner-notes by Steven Lasker for the Mosaic 11 CD Box, on neither session did the full orchestra include Juan Tizol. The ledger shows only two trombones present at these sessions."

I'm afraid I find Steven's comments to be mostly incorrect in those three entries, and my reasons are:

Firstly, I conclude that Lawrence Brown *was* present on 12Sept35: For Reminiscing in Tempo Part 2 (3505b) do you hear, at 1m25secs in, a trio of trombones, or two trombones with a trumpet on top? I hear three trombones. For Reminiscing in Tempo Part 4 (3505d) do you hear, at 1m45secs in, a trio of trombones, or two trombones with a trumpet on top? I hear three trombones! The first note, a top Ab, has the unmistakable quality of Lawrence Brown in the upper register, not trumpet in the middle register.

Secondly, I also think to say "Nanton only played...Strangest Thing" can't be correct, for session 3604, for I believe Nanton is playing Clarinet Lament (3604c). He (or a replacement trombonist) is definitely playing in Echoes of Harlem (3604d). I have copies of the score for this and I can hear all six brass instruments in a few places. Undoubtedly.

Thirdly, for Pussy Willow (3906d) on 20th March 1939 there are definitely three trombones playing. One would assume it was Juan Tizol on 3rd trombone. I've got the score in front of me. I can hear all six brass instruments. For Lady in Blue on the same date I can also hear three trombones, especially Tizol's bass notes. Again, I happen to have a copy of the original score in front of me.
For Something To Live For (3907f) on 21st March 1939 there are three instruments sounding like trombones playing the trombone parts, especially a brief solo line with the saxes at 42seconds in, which sounds like Tizol. Again, I've got the score in front of me to be sure of the notes.

So far the only statement that I am sure of is that there appears to be a trombone missing on Accent on Youth (3504c) on 19Aug35. This is likely to be Brown, as suggested. I haven't analyzed Cotton or Truckin' yet. Otherwise, I'm afraid I find Steven Lasker's liner notes to be in error!

The new DESOR states that Ben Webster was playing tenor sax in the session 3504. Question: is he really playing in all three pieces: Accent on Youth, Cotton and Truckin'?
At least in Truckin' Webster's contribution is obvious! As for Cotton (3504a) I can believe that Webster is there, as there could be four reeds playing behind the vocal at the same time as Bigard is noodling on the clarinet.
The other question is: what do people think is happening in Accent on Youth (3504c)? Is Ben Webster playing parts of Lawrence Brown's trombone part to account for the missing voice in the brass? Whilst I think Brown is present on Reminiscing in Tempo (3505) on 12Sep35, he appears to be absent on Accent on Youth.
At 1m13secs into Accent on Youth there is supposed to be a trombone trio playing, but we can only hear two. Actually the two trombones are playing the 1st and 2nd parts, so I'm guessing that Tizol is playing the 1st part instead of the usual 3rd, Nanton is sticking to his 2nd part, assuming it is Brown who is absent. These two lines are clearly audible. However, if one listens closely the 3rd trombone part *is* present but being played quietly an octave higher, and I believe it's by a trumpet. It's filling in the vital harmony, as the passage wouldn't work without that 3rd part.
On the other hand, throughout the second half of the piece the 6-piece brass ensemble is backing Hodges' solo, and there are definitely 6 voices there. The part which is Lawrence Brown's is less audible and the note durations are a bit lingering in places. It sounds as though it could be a saxophone. On the other hand there is no reason why Bigard could not be playing that line instead of Webster.

"Page 714. A Blues Serenade. (3825) I hear Rex Stewart and Johnny Hodges, not Cootie Williams and Otto Hardwick.
Steven Lasker"
No! In that version of A Blues Serenade  (not to be confused with the vocal one, 3823) it is definitely Otto Hardwick! His tone is creamier than Hodges and it is unmistakably him. Not only that, but the score bears this out. Steven is probably correct in that the brief trumpet solo is Rex Stewart's, not Cootie's. The original score says Rex and I think it sound like him.

"Page 1122. Shoe Shine Boy. According to Steven Lasker's liner notes for the 11 CD Box and Eddie Lambert p61: RS and not AW played behind Ivie in the second chorus."
Hmm, I'm not convinced. I can't see any reason to consider it a Rex solo rather than Whetsel, although I don't consider myself familiar enough with AW's other (limited number of) solos to be sure. Anybody else have a view?
Michael Kilpatrick

At page 25 of his delightful book on the box, with respect to the trumpet soloist on Dusk on the Desert (20Sep37, solos), Steven Lasker says "probably Cootie Williams".
I thought that it had been settled that the soloist was Artie Whetsel, see Dems 02/3-27 with corrections to New DESOR vol. 2, p855 & 1502. There is no question to my ears that it is AW. I believe that the original thought was that it was Rex Stewart.
Bill Morton

Indeed, see 02/2-27 Page 855. But later in 04/3-13 you find a long set of articles about this matter in which Michael Kilpatrick offered evidence for Cootie and Roger Boyes expressed a slight doubt.

The original score and parts do indicate that the soloist was Cootie. Not only that, but it also indicates "Cooty rest" (spelled Cooty, not Cootie) in some of the other choruses - it was not unusual for Ellington to specify a brass soloist not to be playing in some of the ensemble passages either side of his solo chorus.
By the way, for those that missed my previous comments on Dusk on the Desert:
Actually the original score has various sections/solos of the piece arranged differently. What we know of as the first chorus (after the 8-bar intro) did not intend to have any solo at all. The intention was just to have the call-and-answer between the two ensembles - muted brass and saxes - with nothing else.
By the way, Juan Tizol is acting as a "fifth saxophone" in that first chorus. There are therefore five muted brass (Wetz, Rex, Freddy, Brown, Tricky) and five "saxes" taking part in the call-and-answer patterns. Cootie is resting because...the following chorus was intended to be Cootie soloing, backed by saxes playing a unison line. In the recording however, we have that unison sax line and some muted brass as well as a clarinet solo, all together in the 2nd chorus. The original intention was to have the clarinet solo over the muted brass in the *3rd* chorus *after* the chorus with Cootie soloing over unison saxes.
In the other words, the original score is a whole chorus longer than the recorded version, because Ellington decided later to merge the muted brass, sax unison line and clarinet solo into one chorus, and moved Cootie's solo to the 1st chorus over the call-and-answer business.
In the original score Cootie is not playing in either the 1st or 3rd chorus: he is soloing in the 2nd chorus and then joining in when we hear the recapitulation of the introduction.
Michael Kilpatrick

Thanks, Michael. The more I listen to the disc (I am now convinced that it was Cootie), the more I marvel at his versatility, particularly in these records.
Bill Morton

Riding on a Blue Note

DEMS 11/1-9

On page 25 (session LL) of the Mosaic booklet Steven Lasker quotes Eddie Lambert re: Riding on a Blue Note: "Williams gives one of his greatest performances", but then lists the soloist as Jenkins. (DESOR gives Williams as the soloist.) Has there been a debate about this?
Joe Medjuck

In my review of the set I wrote:
Mosaic always goes straight to the best authority for its notes and these by Steven Lasker are particularly perceptive and exhaustive (I reckon they would fill a complete issue of this magazine).
Nobody has ever researched this period so thoroughly and the results are all included here. There’s one quirk. Steven quotes Dance on Cootie Williams’s masterful Riding on a Blue Note performance and then a couple of lines later seems to incorrectly credit the trumpet work to Freddie Jenkins (the piece had to wait until October 1945 for a breathtaking and unforgettable interpretation by Rex Stewart and Johnny Hodges).
Steve Voce

Actually he's quoting Eddie Lambert; but is this a misprint of some sort or does Steven Lasker think it's Jenkins?
Joe Medjuck

The trumpet soloist on Riding on a Blue Note is Cootie Williams, according to Stanley Dance (notes to Columbia C3L-27), Eddie Lambert and the New DESOR team. When Sjef reviewed my notes and solo listings in an e-mail on 3Nov10, he pointed out that he agreed with the Italians and the New DESOR team that it was Williams, and that I should change my solo attribution to Williams. At the time I re-listened and changed the credit to Williams (and even remarked to Sjef that I couldn't recall Jenkins exhibiting so much of an Armstrong influence on any other side), but the booklet had gone to bed the day before, so the change couldn't be made (unlike the great majority of Sjef's corrections, which had been received and incorporated earlier--thanks Sjef!). Subsequently, I've re-listened to that solo again and again, and I'm just not sure it's Williams. The ledger shows four trumpets present at this session, but doesn't name them. (For background on Duke's brass section in 1937-38, see DEMS 04/2-55.)
Michael Kilpatrick, in correspondence received here, reports that the Ellington collection at the Smithsonian doesn't have a manuscript score for this title, but notes "there is, however, a set of parts presumably from 1938. There are two trumpet parts: 'Rex' and 'Wetz'. The third trumpet has no written part because he takes no part in any of the ensemble work--it's all solo. However, it's very clear that the piece was written for just three trumpets in total, not four."
Clearly, Williams is the soloist on the two surviving air checks of Riding on a Blue Note from 1May38 and 17Aug40, but the solo on the Brunswick version is quite different in sound and shape, the tightly muted sound being more typical of Jenkins that Williams, at least to my ears, though I concede that Williams had many different "sounds" at his beck and call--just listen to all the range of sounds he demonstrates on Concerto for Cootie. So is the soloist on the Brunswick Riding on a Blue Note Williams or Jenkins? I invite others to weigh in on this point.
Michael Kilpatrick writes he is "wholly unconvinced about the presence of Freddie Jenkins in some of the sessions" from 1938 that I suggest. Which ones, Michael?
The ledger notes that four trumpets were present on some of the early 1938 dates [like 2Feb38, when Riding on a Blue Note was recorded]. See 04/2-55.
Steven Lasker

Hmm, I think I would have to assume that the trumpets were taking turns playing different pieces, because I honestly can't convince myself that there are four trumpets in any of the pieces that I mentioned from that period that I checked the other day.
We have two sorts of "accuracy of information" here. We have the accuracy of information as to whether certain people were "at the recording session" and the accuracy of information as to whether certain people were playing in any particular piece or not. If we assume that the ledgers are correct, then we have accuracy on the former, but this could give a misleading picture of the latter.
Whilst we know that Ellington wrote a number of pieces specifically for four trumpets (Dusk on the Desert, Harmony in Harlem, Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue etc), we know from the manuscripts that many others from that period were written for just three.
I can believe that it's possible that four trumpets may be playing on 11Apr38 (I'd have to listen again more closely some time) but it's very clear to my ear that only three are there on 2Feb38.
If we use the ledgers verbatim we are at risk of giving the impression that Riding on a Blue Note, Gal from Joe's, and other pieces from that period, were habitually composed with four trumpets in mind, but they clearly weren't. Therefore the Mosaic liner notes may give us a good picture of the comings and goings in the studio on a day-to-day basis, but from my point of view, as someone who looks at the music on a piece-by-piece basis, the information could be misleading!
Michael Kilpatrick

Brooks Kerr observes that the trumpet soloist on Riding on a Blue Note ends his phrases with a rapid vibrato, a Williams trademark in his experience. Now that I listen again, I have to agree....the soloist is indeed Williams! (Brooks also comments that Garry Giddins has much to say about this title in his book of the same title.)
Steven Lasker

Note: Brunswick m8083, copyright application and sheet music as Riding on a Blue Note; ASCAP's "Record of the Works of Ellington, Edward Kennedy (Duke)," the index to MIMM and the New DESOR as Ridin' on a Blue Note.
Steven Lasker

The Sergeant Was Shy

DEMS 11/1-10

I have just listened through the new Mosaic box, which needless to say is a fantastic production.
In my own notes I have two takes of The Sergeant Was Shy from 28Aug39 (DESOR 3917).
Bakker listed two takes (A and B) in his first [1974] discography. New DESOR only lists one.
Jazz Supreme JS-102 shows take B. The Mosaic box only contains one take.
Timner's 3rd edition shows two takes but also admits that "recording files do not show a take B on this particular date. It is therefore possible that take B has been recorded at some later date".
Luigi Sanfilippo's General Catalog also shows two takes. Any comments?
Bo Haufman

What has been wrongly considered to be take B, was not from the studio session of 28Aug39. It has been released on Raretone 23004 and on Jazz Supreme 102. It is in The New DESOR among other un-dated selections from broadcasts under DE3925. In Timner's fourth edition, it has been removed from the 28Aug39 session and added to the 24Nov39 session. In his fifth edition Timner has given it a separate place on page 38 together with the un-dated Boy Meets Horn. See also DEMS 81/3-1 and 81/5-2.

Comments on the Mosaic releases by Steven Lasker

DEMS 11/1-11

On page 25 of my essay to "The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia and Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra" (Mosaic MD11-248), I extended an invitation to all readers: "If you spot any factual errors in this booklet, please rat us out via DEMS."
Since the booklet for the big band box (Mosaic MD11-248) went to bed, I've spotted more than a few errors in my essays; others were brought to my attention by Ken Steiner, Brian Priestley and Patricia Willard. They are as follows:

Corrections in the text of the 11 CD box booklet

p. 10, session (C): Carl Laemmle (whose name was misspelled in my notes) was the founder of Universal Studios; Check and Double Check was an RKO production.

p. 10, session (E): I found the title Harlem Manucurist [sic] in the engineer's log, not in the ledger.

p. 14, session (M): I've Got the World on a String debuted in the 21st edition of the Cotton Club Parade, not the 22nd.

p. 17, session (S): At the close of paragraph 3, I state that Brunswick 6600 couples Sophisticated Lady and Moonglow; this release actually couples Sophisticated Lady and Stormy Weather.

p. 17, session (T): In the last sentence of paragraph 1, "C883-3, C884-3 and C885-3" should instead read "C883-3, C884-3 and C886-3."

p. 21, session (AA): "Mark David" should instead read "Mack David."

p. 21, session (BB): Yearning for Love. The original title shown in the ledger was _________ the Slide, the first word was rendered illegible due to erasure.

p. 24, session (JJ):  My statement that the session of 20Sep37 was "Ellington's first-ever recording date with four trumpets" was incorrect. There were four earlier sessions with four trumpets, all for RCA Victor: 26Sep33, 4Dec33, 9Jan34 and 10Jan34. (Thanks to Michael Kilpatrick for spotting this error.)

p. 29, session (TT): I wrote that the half-valve effects at the end of Daybreak Express (Victor, 4Dec33) are by Freddie Jenkins, but Brooks Kerr reports that he was told by Louis Bacon that he took the solo.

p. 32, following the solography for session (AAA), the following paragraph should have appeared: The American Record Corporation was renamed the Columbia Recording Corporation (CRC) on May 19, 1939. On September 8, 1939, the CRC introduced its 50-cent red-label Columbia pop record and quickly shifted the most popular and prestigious Brunswick artists to the new label. The 75-cent Brunswick label was gradually phased out over the seven months that followed, the final issue under Columbia's aegis being Brunswick 8520, released in April 1940. As sales of Brunswick records declined and it became evident that the minimum sales threshold required to retain the Brunswick, Vocalion and Melotone trademarks would go unmet, Columbia was obliged to discontinue Vocalion, the label on which the small group recordings were released. The final Vocalion issued under Columbia's aegis, number 5621, was released July 5, 1940. It was priced at 35 cents, as was the next record in the series, OKeh 05622. This marked a revival for OKeh, which had been discontinued early in 1935 in favor of Vocalion.

p. 33, session (CCC): In the last paragraph, I state that Jimmie Blanton joined the band on November 2, 1940. The correct date is November 2, 1939 (see DEMS 10/1-26).

p. 33, footnote liii: "The Hot Back" should instead read "The Hot Bach."

p. 37, sessions (A), (B) and (C): "Freddy Jenkins" should instead read "Freddie Jenkins."

p. 37, session (C): The session time is shown as "unknown start time to 5:30 a.m." The ARC ledger notes that BX11263 St. Louis Blues finished at 1:20 a.m., while BX11264 Creole Love Call finished at 2:40 a.m. Neither the engineer's log nor the ledger shows a finish time for B11265 Rose Room, the third and final title recorded this date (February 11-12, 1932), but Brooks Kerr recalls being told by Ellington, Guy and Greer that the session finally finished at 5:30 a.m.

p. 40: Brooks Kerr recalls a Downbeat article on Ellington from circa 1970 that stated that some of Ellington's ARC sessions were supervised by Russ Morgan, probably circa 1936. Can anyone locate the issue of Downbeat that Brooks recalls and tell us exactly what it says on this point?

p. 41, session (MM): In the listing, M771-2 should have preceded M771-1 for consistency's sake. (We don't know the sequence in which the takes were actually recorded.)

p. 42, session (VV): In the footnote, "the first take only of Slap Happy" should instead have read "Slap Happy take one only." (Again, we don't know the sequence in which the takes were recorded.)

p. 43, sessions (BBB), (CCC), and (DDD): The Chicago studio of the World Broadcasting System's Chicago was on Erie Street, not Eire Street. (Page 17 of the notes to the Mosaic small group sessions box can also be corrected on this point.)

p. 44, release dates of LPs: Columbia C3L-27 was released on 9/16/63, not 9/16/33.

Corrections about the photos in the 11 CD box booklet

While I supplied most of the photos used in the big band box, Scott Wenzel supplied the captions without my assistance. I have several comments:
Caption to cover photo: Considering that the trumpeter whose back is to the camera plays his instrument left-handed, I don't suppose there can be much doubt that he's Freddie Jenkins.

p. 7: Photograph by Bloom Studios.

p. 8: I don't know for a fact that this photo was taken "at the Oriental Theatre, Chicago, March 1931." Can anyone confirm this? This photo's background differs from what is seen in photos posted on Google Images as from the Oriental Theatre in Chicago.

p. 20: My print of this photo came to me from Ray Avery; the caption should read "courtesy of the Ray Avery Archives/CTSIMAGES.COM."

p. 24: Hat's off to Scott Wenzel, who compared this photo to what is seen in "Record Making with Duke Ellington," and realized that the photo is from that event, given the musician's clothes, which are in each case the same.

pp. 27, 28: Both photos were taken at the same event; the photo on 28 was first published in Smithsonian Collection R 010, a two-LP set (Duke Ellington 1939), as "courtesy of Jack Towers," suggesting that Jack may have been the photographer. At my request, Patricia Willard is checking with the Towers family to ascertain if this is in fact so; if it is, Rhoda will be paid.


Corrections in the 7 CD box booklet

Now to the small groups box (Mosaic MD7-235):

p. 14, session (S), paragraph two: "Scott Powell" should instead read "Scat Powell."
p. 15, session (X), paragraph four, first sentence: "since 1930" should instead read "since 1929."

p. 17, session (EE), paragraph two, third sentence: "checking' out" should instead read "checkin' out."

p. 17, session (II & JJ), paragraph one, last sentence: "Eire" should read "Erie".

p. 19, sessions (OO & PP), first sentence: "1897-1842" should instead read "1897-1942."

p. 19, "The Recording Supervisors," paragraph two: "Cameo" should instead have read "Romeo."

p. 25, session (W): The record was released as by "Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra." Harry Carney does not play bass clarinet on this side, an instrument he didn't pick up until about 1944.
Considerable discussion about this recording can be found at DEMS 07/1-40.

p. 26, session (BB): Vocalion 4941 as "Dance of the Goon," and credited to "Hodges-Ellington." Sheet music (and presumably the copyright) as "Dance of the Goons," and credited to Hodges alone.

p. 26, session (FF): Times of day weren't noted in the ledger, but the engineer's log shows "3:30-4-5" (sic).

p. 27, list of LPs: CBS(F)88518 is vol. 13, not vol. 10.

p. 27, 78 RPM release dates: The two Gotham Stompers issues were inadvertently omitted. Vri 541 was released on 4/30/37 and Vri 629 on 8/20/37.