Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol. 5, No. 4 (1931-01)

Record Details:

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January, 1931, Vol. V. No. 4 137 featuring in particular a magnificently long-held trumpet by Carmen Lombardo that surely is not to be beaten for sheer endurance. The vocal chorus is also excellent. The Foster Medley on the reverse reveals the band’s deservedly admired tone qualities. The arrangements are unpretentious, warmly turned, and wholly attractive. The disc is thoroughly entitled to join the ranks of best-sellers. Lombardo’s other release for the month is a ten-inch coupling of My Love for You and You’re Driving Me Crazy (Columbia 2335-D), easy-going fox trot performances, extremely well-recorded, giving fine open exposition of the orchestra’s warm tone, some very meritous muted trumpet playing in particular. Spanish Sauces The cycle completes itself. Clever listeners have pointed out the debt Ravel’s Bolero owes to a dance piece—the famous Valencia. Now the Bolero itself returns to the dance or- chestra, via a fox trot arrangement by Salinger and Shilkret. Shilkret’s Victor orchestra plays it on Victor 22571. The ex- periment is interesting, but a good deal of the tune’s best qualities have not been held over. I liked better La Seduccion on the other side—a very catchy and lithesome tango, deftly played. The rumba craze begun by Don Apaziu's memorable record of the Peanut Vendor, will be continued by Lecuona’s fine Siboney played by the Anglo-Persians on Brunswick 4954. The percussive effects and instrumental colors are very neatly handled, and the piece is an attractive one. Madrid, on the other side, is a march-like tune on the style of On the Riviera, and far less striking. Horseplay Johnny Johnson is responsible for as amusing a dance record—in a rather rowdy way—as any I have heard for many months. Chorusser Harry MacDaniel is the star, and his bumptious and tongue-twisting recital of his search for Mr. Burnside is a veritable tour de force. The orchestra’s part is gaily handled too (Victor 22564). Ted Weems pro- vides a well-matched coupling. The One Man Band (ap- parently encompassing all the merits of Harmonica Marry, Piccolo Pete, and such maestri). Here again the vocal choruses and the instrumental solos are extremely well-turned. The Six Jumping Jacks are renowned for the rough and ready humor with which they enliven their fox trots, and the current take off on the old sob ballad, Don’t Send My Boy to Prison—with its mock bathos set to exceedingly peppy dance rhythms, and its ingenious and witty effects—is easily one of their best discs (Brunswick 4946). Football Freddie— on the other side—is jaunty, but less distinctive, as is the Jack’s peppery coupling of You’re Simple Delish and It’s a Great Life (49481). Southern Flavors The Victor Southern series gives release to Kay Kayser’s orchestra’s attractive versions of Hark the Sound of Tar Heel Voices and Collegiate Fanny (V-40258—excellent for tapping), while Brunswick issues Hal Kemp's two-part re- cording of a Medley of Southern College songs, well put together and well-played (4958). The identification of each song is to be commended. Kemp plays with a strong Southern twang in She Loves Me Just the Same—an amusing piece about the ability of a hill billy romeo to hold his girl friend against the attractions of big city matinee idols. The in- strumental effects are frequently very interesting; the har- monica playing especially. The coupling is a high spirited performance of Fraternity Blues (Brunswick 4988). The Cream Brunswick: Red Nichols' orthodox dance performances are now to be distinguished from the hot playing of his Five Pennies by attributing the straight discs to the more formally named “Loring (‘Red’) Nichols; a nice distinction. Loving Nichols is to be heard this month in a fine hot-blooded performance of I Got Rhythm, coupled with a sentimentalized, less interesting version of Embraceable You (4957). (Red Nichols and His Pennies’ release is reviewed among the hot discs). Tom Clines and Tom Gerun maintain their reputa- tion for enlivening even inherently bland material; the former with sprightly and highly danceable versions of What’s the Use? and Passing Time (4941), and the latter with a spirited but not too violent Cheerful Little Earful and a smooth but irresistible performance of My Love For You (4971). Nick Lucas makes his debut in the dance field with two performances by his own crooning Troubadours—a rather mild I Miss a Little Miss, and a more distinctive You’re Driving Me Crazy (4987)—both with Nick’s own chorussing and guitar work of course. Jacques Renard and the Regent Club share sides of 4975 in hits from “Viennese Nights”—I Bring a Love Song, done sweetly and smartly by Renard, and the Regent Club's You Will Remember Vienna. Columbia: Mickie Alpert (making his debut, I believe) plays extremely dapper and delicate versions of two attractive pieces, We’re Friends Again and Hurt (2344-D). Ted Leiois is his old self in the choruses of Somebody Stole My Gal, although his pathos is rather incongruous with the bright and chipper orchestral playing. The coupling is a welcome revival of Someday Sweetheart, done in slow and cooly sweet fashion, with a typical Lewis chorus (2336-D). Fred Rich displays more vigor than is his wont in a fine coupling of I Got Rhythm and Embraceable You, both done with high spirit and a strong rhythmic pull (2328-D). The Ipana Trouba- dours are also to be included among the top lists for their very deftly turned Blue Again, coupled with a bland and less individual Button Up Your Heart (2340-D). Okeh: The Travelers run counter to the widely accepted traditions of polished dance performances in their rough and ready versions of I Can’t Make a Man and Fine and Dandy (41471), but their rousing energy and rhythmic gusto is quite refreshing. Harold Lem does more restrained but still lively playing in I Got Rhythm and My Love For You (41465), while Bud Blue is rather lacking in necessary anima- tion in his otherwise pleasantly songful performances of I’ll Be Blue and Someone Sang a Sweeter Song (41466). Victor: Leonard Joy's All String Orchestra playing Us and Company is the Victor dance record of the month: a spright- ly piece with rather amusing words, coupled with a lusher version of I’ll Still Belong to You (22569). I like better, however, McKinney's Cotton Pickers in their robust, full- voiced Never Swat a Fly and a smooth Laughing, at Life (23020). The Cotton Pickers have been coming up mar- vellously lately, and small wonder, for such records as theirs of Okay Baby! will surely be ranked with the year’s best. The present disc is to be ranked with the ballroom dance group rather than with the out-and-out hot jazz, but it is plentifully warm, and the clever orchestration allows some apt opportunities for the celesta to star. Bert Lown demon- strates his familiar merits of smooth, well-varied tone in The Penalty of Love, but his coupling, Loving You the Way I do, is surprising bright and clear and vivacious (22568). His orchestra is one to be watched. Leo Reisman has characteris- tic fare in the hits from “Viennese Nights’ (22512): both pieces flow nicely, but one might ask for more animation. HOT JAZZ The Duke For all the fact that Ellington has become too popular and too busy to do his best work at all times, the Duke still has an occasional disc up his sleeve that is not only quite un- beatable, but is a genuine musical (not mere jazzical) achieve- ment. His Jungle Band's coupling of Dreamy Blues and Runnin’ Wild, on Brunswick 4952, is one of these works. Runnin’ Wild is one of the finest dance tunes ever written (as Gilbert Seldes and many another has testified) and Elling- ton’s version is done with an abandon as magnificent as that of the music itself. But the Dreamy Blues, one of Elling- ton’s own compositions, is the real musical achievement. It is a poignantly restrained and nostalgic piece with glorious melodic endowment and scoring that even Ravel and Strawinski might envy. Indeed it actually recalls those hushed muted trumpets of the beginning of the second part of the “Rite of Spring.” The very same piece is played again under the name Mood Indigo by the Harlem Foot- warmers on Okeh 8840. Despite the change of name in both title and orchestra, the performance sounds exactly the same, although the Okeh recording is less brilliant, departing some- what from the splendid authenticity of tone color reproduction