Sandy Brown Jazz

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On A Night Like This, The Story Is Told ...

The Music Goes 'Round And 'Round

 

These extracts from guitarist and bandleader Eddie Condon's biography relate to things that occurred nearly 100 years ago in the mid-to-late 1930s. Do you get a feeling of deja vue?

'South of Harlem, the headquarters of jazz was a store nine feet six inches wide at 144 East Forty-second street. It sold sporting goods, radios, and records, and was called the Commodore Music Shop. To attract customers the proprietor, Milton Gabler, kept a phonograph Commodore Music Shop Harlemgoing .... Passers-by heard jazz classics from morning until night ... The Commodore became a meeting place for jazz enthusiasts...'

'I listened to Gabler talk about the greatness of jazz, its recognition as an art by the people of Europe, and its future in America.'

"Do you think it will be recognised here before we die?" I asked him one day.

 

Milt Gabler (left), Herbie Hill, Lou Blum and Jack Crystal at the Commodore Music Shop in 1947

 

He shrugged his shoulders and smiled .... "It's recognized now," he said. "It's just a matter of spreading it to a larger number of people. Over here we never think anything is recognized until the entire population takes it up; then we get tired of it and call it common and look for something else. You can't do that with an art; in fact I don't think an art is ever popular; there aren't enough people with taste and understanding to make it popular. It's the cheap imitations of art that are sold by the million."

 

 

 

Listen to Riverboat Shuffle by Frank Trumbauer & His Orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke from 1927

 

 

 

'... Thus Riverboat Shuffle, a jazz classic, died with Yes, We Have No Bananas, a popular tune; ..... so far as the record companies were concerned it was uneconomical to keep either in circulation.'

 

Yes, We Have No Bananas was first recorded in the early 1920s.Here it is played by Bailey's Lucky Seven (Sam Lanin band) in 1923.

 

 

 

Amazingly, it's popularity went on and on.Here is a clip from the 1948 film Luxury Liner with Tommy Dorsey's singing group the Pied Pipers performing the song.

 

 

 

 

'..... How to get Riverboat Shuffle and others like it re-issued was a problem which Gabler bravely tackled. He asked the companies how small an order they would accept for a new pressing of a record. The answer was one thousand.'

'... He placed his orders and the re-issues began - records by the Wolverines, by Pine Top Smith, and by studio bands such as the one I had not assembled and not rehearsed with Fats Waller .... The records were priced at a dollar; they sold quickly. One day a Yale student named Marshall Stearns dropped in to buy some and talked to Gabler about a hot club he had organized in New Haven .... Stearns wanted to make the re-issues available to the members of his club, and to other hot clubs which were being formed over the country at various colleges. Gabler offered an idea; he would change the label on the re-issues to UHCQ - United Hot Clubs of America.'

'... At the time fourteen re-issues had appeared. The fifteenth was the first UHCA record; it was China Boy and Bull Frog Blues, made in Chicago by Charlie Pearce, with Muggsy (Spanier) and Tesch (Frank Teschemacher) in the band)....'

 

Listen to the recording of Bull Frog Blues.

 

 

 

After that came some of our records, including, I Found A New Baby ... The records were sold only to hot club members; in a short time they were also collector's items, and the problem of keeping the jazz classics available was right back where it started.'

 

Eddie Condon with I Found A New Baby

 

 

 

"We will have to do some missionary work," Milt said. "We will have to arrange some jam sessions and let people hear the music as it's being created. Then they will want the records and demand will grow ... "

'... The first session was held in a studio at Decca on a Sunday afternoon. I assembled the musicians; Gabler paid the expenses; his mailing list brought an overflow of guests. Pictures were taken, and some of them appeared in newspapers .... A few of the participating musicians got jobs as a result of the publicity .... The theory seemd to work.'

That summer we rehearsed a band for the Onyx ..... One day a girl walked in and began talking about a gag tune she had heard in Chicago, something called The Music Goes 'Round And 'Round. She sang it for the boys:

You push the middle valve down.
The music goes 'roun and 'round,
Oh-oh-oh,Oh-oh-oh.
And it comes out here.

We played the chordal structure of Dinah for background and Riley (trombonist Mike Riley) tried it out.'

"Not a bad novelty," he said."

 

Here is a clip of Danny Kaye singing the song from the 1959 movie The Five Pennies where he played the art of Red Nichols.

 

 

 

From We Called it Music by Eddie Condon with Thomas Sugrue

 

Eddie Condon

Eddie Condon

 

 

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