Top 50 JAzz Blog

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Phoenix Jazz Record Label Story

My guest on the 6/26/14 edition of The Duplex was Tom Curry, co-founder with Bob Porter of the Phoenix Jazz record label and host of his own program on Zumix Radio. Over the course of the show, Tom took us through the history of the label. Good stuff.

Listen here.

All selections from the Phoenix Jazz record label

Cootie Williams Sextet-Tessa's Torch Song-1944 (Pearl Bailey's and Bud Powell's 1st recording)
Dodo Marmarosa-Smooth Sailing-1946
Eddie Cleanhead Vincent-Somebody Sure Has Got to Go-1944
Jack McVae-Young Man's Blues-1945
Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie-Shaw Nuff, Groovin' High-1945
Sonny Stitt/Eddie Lockjaw Davis-Whoops!-1954
Jimmy Cleveland/Benny Golson-Blues-1959
Bill Harris/Charlie Ventura-The Great Lie-1947
Arnett Cobb/Dinah Washington-I Got It Bad-1952
Sabby Lewis-Embraceable You(w. Freddy Webster)
Charlie Parker-Now's The Time-1953
Red Allen-The Theme-1944
Charlie Parker-My Little Suede Shows-1953
Red Allen-Red Jump-1944

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Scene in L.A./ Central Ave.

Jazz, R&B and blues from 1940's-50's L.A, played on the Duplex Mystery Jazz Hour with Steve Provizer on 06/19/2014. Audio archived at WZBC.ORG 

 Roy Porter´s 17 Beboppers "Sippin With Cisco" (earliest recording session of Eric Dolphy)
 Howard McGhee Sextet "Dial-Ated Pupils" 
 Roy Porter´s 17 Beboppers "Gassin the Wig" 
 Howard McGhee Sextet "Up In Dodo's Room" 
 Johnny Otis Quintet & The Robin & Esther "Double Crossing Blues" 
 Gerald Wilson "Cruisin' With Cab" 
 Gerald Wilson Orchestra "Dissonance In Blues (1947)
 Joe Liggin & Honey Drippers "Pink Champagne" 
 Dexter Gordon Quintet "Mischievous Lady"
 Wardell Grey "move" 
 Nellie Lutcher "I Thought About You" 
 Percy Mayfield "Please Send Me Someone to Love"
 Lionel Hampton "Red Top" 
 Big Jay McNeeley "Deacon's Hop"
 Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray "The Chase" 
 Charles Brown "Black Nite"
 Jimmy Witherspoon "Big Fine Girl"
 Camille Howard & Her Boyfriends "Money Blues"
 Nellie Lutcher "Fine Brown Frame"
 Roy Porter´s 17 Beboppers "Little Wig"
 Teddy Edwards Quartet "Blues in Teddy's Flat" 
 Wardell Grey "Farmer’s Market" 
 Annie Ross "Farmers Market" 
 Joe Swanson Orchestra "East of the Sun" 
 T-Bone Walker "Stormy Monday"
 Big Jay McNeeley "Nervous, Man, Nervous" 
 Jimmy Liggins and His Drops of Joy "Tear Drop Blues" 
 Frank Morgan "The Champ" 
 Roy Milton and His Solid Senders "Hop, Skip and Jump"
 Art Tatum "Too Marvelous for Words"
 Pee Wee Crayton "Blues After Hours"
 Charles Mingus "Mingus Fingers"
 Charles Mingus "These Foolish Things"

Friday, June 20, 2014

Where are the Vuvuzuelas?

Did FIFA ban vuvuzuelas because of noise pollution? I doubt that. The decibel-meter already pins out at international soccer matches; maybe because of their potential usefulness as bludgeons? Whatever the reason, I'm missing those gaudy plastic tubes and to honor them, I offer this revised piece

In my day, these horns (at that time, just red) stuck out the top of the carts dragged along by vendors working the crowds at parades and ballparks. They also had banners, mylar balloons and the industrious ones also sold popcorn. But the horns were the most expensive and highly-prized tchochkes. Browbeating a parent into buying one was an all-day effort. 

So, is it cheesy sentimentality that makes me care? Do I think that people who have explored the vuvuzuela and experienced its melodic limitations will flock to study the trumpet? Sure, just like I believe that sampling say, Miles, in hip hop tracks will bring the kids around to listening to jazz. NO. This infernal device is powerful for other reasons, like the power of limited means. Wha? 

Listen: I had a friend who played the piano. From a rich family, he refused to go to a gig where they wanted him to play any kind of piano but a grand. No electric, spinet or upright for him...I'll just sit here for a few minutes with steam coming out of my nose as I remember all the music I've heard made on crappy pianos by Tatum, Bud, Willie the Lion, any great jazz pianist. Of course you don't want to sit down to play a piano with no F# above middle C, with the top octave sounding like the broken works of a cheap music box, or with a sustain pedal that sounds like it's harboring a family of mice. But that's what you got. You take it as a challenge to figure out work-arounds. Maybe it forces you to use new patterns and you discover a riff you never knew existed. Maybe it pisses you off so much you start channeling Cecil Taylor.

People act amazed at the great music played by folks who made banjos out of cereal boxes, or drums out of spackle containers or oil drums. Not me. The investment almost pre-determines that if the music's in you, you'll work hard enough to get it out. Now, you ain't making great music with the infernal vuvuzela, but you are putting enough breath into a column to agitate the standing waves and engage the harmonic series. That puts you closer to the many musicians who made somethin' from nothin' than to the people who buy Martin Committee horns and hang them on their den walls. Breathing is always a good thing. And you gotta breathe to work the tube, so vive la viv!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Tribute: My Quiet Dad, Doing It Right

Dad and I at the beach, w. Mom's shadow overlaid as she snaps the photo

My father Max went to work early, as his family lost its financial footing when he was young. His father was a butcher and his first cousin, Bob, owned a deli, so it was natural for him to go into that business. After the war, he returned to another deli owned by Bob, where he stayed for 29 years. He worked five long days, one half day (Sunday) and had Wednesday off. He had 2 weeks of vacation a year.

Like many guys who came of age in the Depression and fought in World War II, Max was a heavy smoker (Camels). I think he had his first heart attack at age 44. Following the regimen of the day, he was given nitroglycerin pills to carry around, told to cut down on salt and take walks. He put down the cigarettes and picked up a pipe. Whether or not he inhaled it, I was too young or too distracted to notice. It was too little, too late and he died at age 47.

He was essentially a serious man, whose tastes ran to Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, Miles Davis, Nat Cole and Mahalia Jackson. I listened to his music and was snared early into the jazz labyrinth. 

One week of Max's vacation was spent in Portsmouth, NH, at my mother's parents' house which was on a gravel lane, next door to a lobsterman. Beyond that house was the water-Portsmouth's Great Bay. We fished off bridges or breakwaters near beaches, trying for flounder and mackerel, but usually catching pollack. One afternoon, we tied into a run of white hake and brought back bushel baskets full, most of which we gave away to neighbors. The rest my grandmother Annie cleaned and prepared for us. Fishing was a time when I sensed my father's pulse slowing down and we were able to flow into each other.
My 5th grade (?) rendition of Fenway Park
We lived about a 20-minute walk from Fenway Park and some Sundays and Wednesdays (there were mid-week day games then), we went to Red Sox games. We got there early for batting practice and either sat in the bleachers or the left-field grandstand. Normally, there were about 15,000 people in the park. It was the end of Ted Williams' career and before the beginning of Yaz's. Pinkie Higgins guided the team to a long succession of losing seasons. There was an occasional burst of organ music and announcements of pinch-hitters, but mostly a tranquil attentiveness prevailed.
One day at work, someone gave him a shiny 1864 Indian Head penny (no "L" on the ribbon) and we became coin collectors. On Wednesdays, he went to the bank and exchanged cash for coins. We'd spread them out on the kitchen table and sift through them, consulting a copy of the "Red Book" to see if we'd stumbled on anything of value. We tried to fill the blue albums with pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters, but never found the rarest dates. We frequented coin shops downtown on Bromfield St. but looked and almost never bought. Our family had enough money, but I could see my dad thought, not really enough to spend on a hobby.

We lived right off Commonwealth Ave and in the fall, we would walk up and down the street, visiting the car dealerships to see the new models and collect brochures on the latest model Chevy or Rambler. We pressed our noses against the window of the Packard dealer at Packard's Corner, but never felt quite at home enough to go in. ($5000 for a car!!). Such trips were like exchanging molecules with my dad.

My father dressed neatly, if not extravagantly; wore glasses, which he called "cheaters" to watch TV, lost his patience at my mother's inability to read maps and was joyful when he came home and I leaped into his arms.

Being a father mostly draws attention when it's done badly. Let's not forget that many do it quietly and well, like my dad.
Dad's tie rack, with some of his ties; still in use

Friday, June 13, 2014

Listening to Commodore Records

Commodore Records, which grew out of the Commodore Record Shop in Manhattan, was the brainchild of Milt Gabler. Gabler was the first to re-issue old jazz records, the first to list all personnel on records and the first to do mail order for jazz records. As you can see by the playlist, Gabler used a stable of great players in the mainstream/traditional/swing vein. The label recorded Billie Holliday singing "Strange Fruit" when her producer at Columbia Records, John Hammond, would not. 

This edition of the Duplex Mystery Jazz Hour with Steve Provizer ran on WZBC.ORG on 06/12/2014. Audio is available at; Thursday, 5-7 PM.


Eddie Condon "Carnegie Jump" (Jazz, 1938) 
Eddie Condon "Jada" (Jazz, 1938) 
Chu Berry "Sittin' In" (Jazz, 1938) 
Chu Berry "Forty Six West Fifty Two"  (Jazz, 1938) 
Wild Bill Davison "That's a Plenty" (Jazz, 1943) 
George Brunis "Tin Roof Blues"  (Jazz, 1943)
Jelly-Roll Morton "Panama" (Jazz, 1940) 
Eddie Edwards & His Original Dixieland Jazz Band "Tiger Rag" (Jazz, 1946)
Billie Holliday "Strange Fuit"  (Jazz, 1939)  
Johnny Wiggs & His New Orleans "Zulu's Parade" (Jazz, 1950) 
Muggsy Spanier And His Ragtimers (Jazz, 1944)
Coleman Hawkins "Boff Boff (Mop Mop)" (Jazz, 1943) 
Wild Bill Davison "At the Jazz Band Ball"  (Jazz, 1943)
Sidney Bechet and His Feetwamers "Jelly Roll Blues" (Jazz, 1950) 
Max Kaminsky & His Jazz Band "Eccentric" (Jazz, 1944) 
Eddie Edwards & His Original Dixieland Jazz Band "Shake It And Break It" (Jazz, 1946)
Eddie Condon "Ballin the Jack" (Jazz, 1939) 
Eddie Condon "Basin Sreet Blues" (Jazz, 1943) 
Eddie Edwards & His Band "Skeleton Jangle" (jazz, 1944)
Bobby Hackett and His Orchestra "At Sundown" (Jazz, 1944) 
Eddie Edwards & His Original Dixieland Jazz Band "Lazy Daddy" (Jazz, 1946) 
Wild Bill Davidson "I'm Coming Virginia" (Jazz, 1946) 
DeParis Brothers Orchestra "I've Found a New Baby" (Jazz, 1944) 
Muggsy Spanier and His Ragtime Band "Rosetta" (Jazz, 1944) 
Eddie Condon and His Windy City Seven "Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland" (Jazz, 1938) 
Wild Bill Davison And His Commodores "Baby, Won't You Please come Home" (Jazz, 1943)
Eddie Condon And His Band "Georgia Grind" (Jazz, 1940)
Jack Teagarden and his Swingin Gates "Chinatown. My Chinatown" (Jazz, 1944) 
Wild Bill Davison And His Commodores "Riverboat Shuffle" (Jazz, 1943) 
George Wettling & His Rhythm Kings "How Come You Do Me Like You Do Me" (Jazz, 1944)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Extended Ellington

If you missed the Duplex Mystery Hour that played long-form works of Ellington-and Strayhorn-on Thursday June 5, 5-7 PM. check out the playlist below and listen to the audio, archived at


 Duke Ellington "Creole Rhapsody" from "Creole Rhapsody" (Jazz, 1931) on Brunswick 
 Duke Ellington "Reminiscing in Tempo" (Jazz, 1935) on Brunswick 
 Duke Ellington "Symphony in Black (A Rhapsody of Negro Life)"(Jazz, 1935) 
 Duke Ellington "Clarinet Lament" (1936) on Brunswick 
 Duke Ellington "Boy Meets Horn" From Fargo, 1940 (Jazz, 1940) on Jazz Classics 
 Duke Ellington "Harlem Air Shaft"(Jazz, 1940) on Victor 
 Duke Ellington "Jump for Joy (Jazz, 1941) on Victor 
 Duke Ellington "Black, Brown, and Beige" (1944) on RCA 
 Duke Ellington "The Harlem Suite" (Jazz, 1951) on Columbia 
 Duke Ellington "A Drum is a Woman" (Jazz, 1957) on Columbia 
 Duke Ellington "Such Sweet Thunder" from "The Queen Suite" (Jazz, 1957) on Columbia 
 Duke Ellington "Anatomy of a Murder theme" from "Anatomy of a Murder" (Jazz, 1959) on Columbia 
 Duke Ellington "Happy Anatomy" from "Happy Anatomy" (Jazz, 1959) on Columbia 
 Duke Ellington "Paris Blues" from "Paris Blues" (Jazz, 1961) on United Artists 
 Duke Ellington "First Sacred Concert" (Jazz, 1965) 
 Duke Ellington "Tourist Point of View" from "The Far East Suite" (Jazz, 1966) on RCA 
 Duke Ellington "Bluebird of Delhi" from "Far East Suite" (Jazz, 1966) on RCA 
 Duke Ellington "Isfahan" from "Far East Suite" (Jazz, 1966) on RCA 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Take the Test: Which Dead Dictator Are you?

The reflected glory that people are sponging up by associating themselves with famous dead painters, musicians, etc. and which is now sweeping the social media, has been duly noted by The Institute

We have put our own stamp on the whole fiasco, with a test by which you can discover which dead dictator you most closely resemble. Ready? Let's do it.

Your favorite activity on a day off is:
  1. De-barking a maple tree
  2. Trashing a hotel room
  3. Mugging a barista

What's your favorite gun magazine?

  1. Guns and Ammo
  2. American Handgunner
  3. Shooting Times
  4.  Guns of the Old West

Which is these is most important to you?

  1. A well-stocked bomb shelter
  2. A tidy armaments cabinet
  3. New wallpaper in the Safe Room

You're invited to a party. What do you bring?

  1. Stink bombs
  2. Flamethrower
  3. Nothing. Your capacity for verbal invective is gift enough

Where would you most like to live?
  1. Area 51
  2. Under the ruins of the Berlin Wall
  3. Cape Cod

Which of these statements best describes you?
  1. I tend to be a bit moody
  2. Ozzy-lover from the git go
  3. I live to loot

My political views are:
  1. Inscribed in gold tablets and hidden in Salt Lake City
  2. Known only to me and Gordon Liddy
  3. Tattooed on my butt
To get your scientifically generated, certified personalized results, send $50 in a plain brown envelope to The Institute, c/o this blog.