Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Jazz Performance - The Jim Cullum Jazz Band - "Swing That Music"

Today's highlighted jazz performance is a recording from the 1990 Monsalvat Jazz Festival in Melbourne, Australia. It is the Jim Cullum Jazz Band playing Louis Armstrong's tune Swing That Music!

Jim at age 18 with horn.
Jim Cullum's band was formed in 1962 with the intent to play the traditional jazz of the greats such as  King Oliver and Jellyroll Morton. The next year, 1963 they began playing on the San Antonio Riverwalk at The Landing. They played there until 2011.

Beginning in 1987 the Jim Cullum Jazz Band has been featured on The Riverwalk radio broadcasts. While performing at all these venues the Jim Cullum and the band has traveled the world playing at festivals in Australia, Europe and Russia.

Swing That Music was composed by Louis Armstrong and Horace Gerlach. It is said that the tune was named that name in order to tie in with his 1936 autobiography of the same name.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday Jazz Performance - Midlife Dixieland Jazzband - "Tiger Rag"

Here is a staged music video of the Midlife Dixieland Jazzband playing that old traditional jazz chestnut Tiger Rag.

Midlife Dixieland Jazzband performs Tiger Rag in 2010.

There is a myriad of people who claimed to have written or developed Tiger Rag. Some, like Jelly Roll Morton and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band are of legendary status. Others all almost totally unknown accept to jazz historians and real die hard fans.

The first group to copyright and record the tune was the Original Dixieland Jazz Band on August 17, 1917 for Aeolian-Vocalion Records and then again on March 25, 1918 for Victor.

Original Dixieland Jazz Band - March 25, 1918.

Some New Orleans musicians claimed that the tune was being played in New Orleans years before ODJB recorded it. Some named musician Jack Carey as the composer, others named saxophonist Achille Baquet. A Ray Lopez copyrighted a similar tune under the name Weary Weasel another person Johnny DeDroit copyrighted it as Number Two Blues.

On the Library of Congress recordings of Jelly Roll Morton that Alan Lomax made one can hear the master pianist explaining how he used the melody of an old quadrille, made some additions and developed the tune.

Whatever the actual truth is it would appear that it did develop from a French quadrille and additions added by various musicians over the years. The arrangement played and copyrighted by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band became the predominate versions in the years following their record releases.

Tiger Rag has become one of the mainstays of Dixieland jazz. The predominance of performances and recordings of Tiger Rag proves it to be one of the most played jazz standards.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday Jazz Performance - Traditional Jazz Orchestra - "Some of These Days"

Today lets have a look and a listen to the Traditional Jazz Orchestra playing Some of These Days on July 5, 2011!

The Traditional Jazz Orchestra was founded by trumpet player Tom Birkner and trombonist Morgan Powell. The rest of the players in this video are Carlyle Johnson on clarinet, Mike Miller playing the banjo, and Dan Anderson on tuba.

Some of These Days was written and composed by Shelton Brooks It was published in 1910. Sophie Tucker made a popular recording of the tune in 1911.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Ruby Braff at home. Photo by George A. Borgman in 1995.
George A. Borgman interviewed and wrote an in-depth article on trumpeter and cornetist Ruby Braff in 1995.

The article was entitled The One and Only Ruby Braff  and was published in the December 1995 Mississippi Rag newspaper.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Memories of a Jazz Journalist - Part Six - Ralph Sutton

Here is a continuation of a series of entries that come from an article that George wrote in 2004 entitled Memories of A Jazz Journalist.

One of the most amusing of the 147 "Yankee Jazz Beat" columns I have submitted to the Mississippi Rag concerned stride pianist Ralph Sutton.

The Sherborn Inn, Sherborn, Massachusetts, has a grand piano, and when I asked Ralph who made it, he said it was a Yamaha.

I quipped, "Doesn't Yamaha make motorcycles?"

And Ralph replied, "It plays like a motorcycle.

Ralph Sutton was born in Hamburg, Missouri on November 4, 1922.

Sutton grew up in Howell, Missouri and was trained in classical piano. At the age of 11 he was playing in his father's dance band and by 1936 he was playing piano around St. Louis. As a teenage he would listen to the Harlem Rhythm radio show which first introduced him to "stride" piano; the style he would play for the rest of his life.

Jack Teagarden
Jack Teagarden heard Sutton play around 1940 at a college and recruited him for his band. Sutton played with Teagarden until he was drafted into the Army in 1943.

After the conclusion of World War II, in 1945, Sutton returned to St. Louis and worked with the Joe Schirmer Trio as well as working at radio stations in the area.

Sutton then journeyed to New York rejoining Jack Teagarden's band for about about a year until becoming the intermission pianist at Eddie Condon's where he soon gained a following as he playing ragtime and stride. He garnered a regular slot on the This is Jazz radio program which furthered his notoriety.

In 1952 Sutton was asked to London to play the Royal Festival Hall. This was the start of his many European tours which would continue until his death.

Earl Hines, 1947
He and his family moved to San Francisco where he subbed for Earl "Fatha" Hines at the Hangover in the fall of 1957. He then joined Bob Scobey's dixieland band.

He was invited to play in Colorado where he met his second wife who ran the Rendevous Club. Sutton along with Milt Hinton, Gus Johnson and occasionally Ruby Braff turned the club into a jazz center. His friendship with Braff lasted 52 years and they would record together occasionally.

Ralph Sutton traveled the world and played many of the old masters tunes, such as James P. Johnson, "Fats" Waller, and Willie "The Lion" Smith. Jazz writer Scott Yanow called him, "one of the greatest stride pianists ever." 

Sutton died at the age of 79 on December 30, 2001 in Denver he was survived by his wife Sunnie and three sons from his first marriage.

Ralph Sutton plays Scott Joplin's Cascades in 1960.

Ralph Sutton plays Honeysuckle Rose in Italy on May 17, 1979.