JCCD-3125: Kid Ory & Red Allen -
A Jazz Concert In Berlin 1959 - 1st Set
Just Jazz—British Jazz Magazine
The 1959 European tour by Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band was planned well in advance. On the 13 July, Red Alien flew out to Los Angeles to record fourteen tracks for Norman Granz's Verve label; the photo on the first set box was taken at that session. The personnel chosen for these recordings, with the omission of guitarist
Frank Haggerty and the replacement of Morty Corb on bass, was the line-up chosen for the tour.
They arrived in Germany on the 17 September, and performed this concert a few days later at the Sportspalast, which was recorded by BFM Berlin. Ory's aughter Babette eventually became custodian of the original tapes, and recently sold
the rights to the enterprising Bill Bissonnette, owner of the Jazz Crusade record label. The results of this deal can be heard on these two discs. giving punctuation to the ensemble, providing musical full stops and commas where needed, and these, along with his arrangements (mostly little turnarounds, fillers and codas), help to give the band that singular 'Ory sound'. He gets that famous mute of his out to add some tonal colour to Tin Roof Blues and Careless Love. Henry Alien was an inspired choice for this band. He was capable of wildness, but he keeps it mostly under wraps for this concert, while still showing the exciting qualities that his biographer John Chilton called 'adventurous dexterity'. Most importantly, he could still provide that essential New Orleans trumpet lead.
Bob McCracken's playing is a lot more interesting than some of the clarinettists Ory had employed in the past; he takes nice solos on Savoy Blues and Sugar foot Stomp. Cedric Haywood, although coming from a bop background, romps away, feeding the soloists the chords when needed, sounding a little like Earl Hines on Careless Love. The solid string bass of Squire Girsback helps to hold the band together, and a plus is the lovely bit of slapping he gets going over the stop time in Wolverine Blues. The drummer, Alton Redd, supplies a loud but effective two and four backbeat rhythm going throughout the evening. (Brit-Trad drummers please note), and he also sings in a rugged blues- shouter style on a couple of numbers. A German friend, Trudi Lindon, kindly translated the German Banter for me...
"In Europe we give flowers to gentlemen, unlike America, where it is not the custom; there you only give men flowers at funerals. (Laughter) "As we would like to have Kid Ory with us for at least another fifty years, we would like to present this bouquet to his five-year-old daughter Babette, who is here too. (Applause) "We would also like to present Kid with a memento; it is small, but comes with heartfelt thanks. It's a model of the Brandenburg Gate, which is the symbol of Berlin. This comes as a big thank you from BFM Berlin. (Applause) "As you know, there are autograph hunters here tonight. The tip is: his plane leaves at six thirty tomorrow morning." (Laughter) (Introduces) Tiger Rag.
The following month the band came to the UK, opening at the Regal, Cambridge, on the 16 October. The itinerary (two shows a night) must have been gruelling work for the Kid, who was then 72, but probably not so hard for the others;
Alien was a mere 53. The English papers gave them a mixed reception. Benny Green, writing in 'The Observer; stated, 'Ory is perhaps the most ponderous trombonist I have ever heard; and, 'The well intended vulgarities of his style have a sentimental appeal for our Traditional jazz fans; However, the Kid was appreciated by the more knowledgeable writers such as Tony Standish: 'His phrases, mostly good ones tested by time, are immaculately positioned to achieve ultimate effectiveness; and Max Jones: 'Kid Ory is still a tailgate master... his presentation gave us pure jazz, a lot of nostalgia, some powerful stagemanship, and three singers; The tour was spread over most of Europe, but as far as I know, the only other recording available on CD is of the 13 November concert in Copenhagen, on Storyville.
King’s Jazz Review—British Jazz Publication
The two sets double Jazz Crusade “A Jazz Concert in Berlin – 1959" album is not only of an historical event, but is of unique significance and value of equating my youth of sixty years ago and still then a teenager to the period of the young musicians in England at the time who were giving noteworthy playing performances of traditional jazz music styles coming out of America played by trombonist Kid Ory, cornetist Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five and Hot Seven jazz artists’ members, including several more from New Orleans, naming clarinettist Sidney Bechet as one among them of importance in this field.
What I’ve written above about - is that in what I’ve heard of today’s young musicians taking a liking to, and learning to play jazz music of their choosing, the style of Traditional, Dixieland jazz music as can be heard on this “Kid Ory – Henry ‘Red’ Allen” double album is a classic means and arbutus avenue of encouragement for them to match - go down, get and master.
The businessman that he was, Kid Ory had it in his contract that only one recording of the Berlin concert is made for his own use. Babette, daughter of Kid Ory approached Colin Bray to see if his record label would purchase the rights to her father’s concert in Germany, whereupon of circumstances, he passed the offer to Big Bill Bissonnette, Jazz Crusade owner. The broad story can be read in his liner notes.
The Sportpalast, Berlin, concert opens in the 1st Set of the double album on the Original Dixieland One-Step at near breakneck speed, yet I was able to take the dance in on the floor at half the tempo with ease without the need for any cursory steps to be taken in the process, because the beat rhythm was from start to finish of the number absolutely – perfect, magnificent.
Following Peoria the five consecutive numbers come within the top creations in their New Orleans-Dixieland genre of Classic jazz music – named, Careless-Loveless Love Blues, High Society, Savoy Blues, Tin Roof Blues, Muskrat Ramble the latter being composed by Kid Ory – altogether now – one and two – we’re gonna ramble on - sung in mellow voiced, delightfully in rhythmic fashion together with is unsurpassed in the playing craft of Savoy Blues not only for unique tone quality.
The jazz singing of Alton Redd comes over in stirring effect on Careless Love the skills of clarinettist Bob McCracken shine through on High Society, and Cedric Haywood on piano is inspiring on Tin Roof Blues all for tasters. It being a concert (even if I expect a promoting country relationships one) such was the trend that certain songs then were played at a fast tempo as are Bill Bailey, Sugar Foot Stomp (Dipper Mouth Blues), Wolverines with notable Girsback bass break and Tiger Rag a rocket-fired number -:- unlike Sister Kate ---"pretty baby --- she’s just like a little child out to play --- take my advice ---” a tune for song in perhaps Ory style and, to dance to, played wonderfully as if as in dreamland; sheer beauty -:- explosive that can only be listened to - to enjoy mental reward, which incidentally it is not a “Rag” according to Jelly Roll, but is a movement from the French quadrilles.
Several well known trumpeters in those days owed a debt to Henry “Red” Allen whose style was akin to that of Louis Armstrong then, when with the Luis Russell band in having a hit on “Panama” - Russell’s home during the spell when clarinettist Albert Nicholas was with them.
Red Allen then went on to secure a residency in 1954 with his own band at the Metropole in New York developing a wide trumpet range with fascinating timbrel effects making a perfect match with Kid Ory and clarinettist Bob McCracken in this Berlin concert.
Several of the album’s score numbers in this 1959 Berlin concert are in my view masterpieces, inclusive of Aunt Hagar’s Blues to which in announcing it, Kid Ory says he’ll slow down the tempo to 20 miles an hour. Second to an over eight out of this world minutes run on Tin Roof Blues to tremendous applause for “Tuxedo Junction” that is heard in unison volume for all tunes, there is undoubtedly a sui generic, unparalleled, distinctive trombone note commensurate with the scientific shipping warning sound prior to the invention of the lighthouse that was an aid to warn them of the many shipwrecks lying off the North East coast of Scotland – you name it for all that - for Kid Ory has it in Tuxedo Junction.
With a few beginning measures intros on each instrument of the song, St James Infirmary Blues stretching out progressively with the two main brass protagonists delighting and exciting their Berlinian jazz fans, pianist Cedric Haywood portraying the highest form of musicianship skills, controlled by a delicate, perhaps American made cymbals ringing, and solid innovative Hi Hat time piece movements by drummer Alton Redd, including bassist, Squire “Gersh” Girsback, but leaving him until the next number “Wolverine Blues” to reveal his showpiece, “St James” ended up on the wizardry of clarinettist Bob McCracken taunting all with note stepping attempts of heights, reaching intermittent extends until the leader prompts “make up your mind” whereupon an f# on the top line of the five lined staff above the main stave of the music sheet came over the air on a sustained four bars sound in electrifyingly perfect pitch causing a delightful, outstanding applause from their concert goers - sensational. Yes – It was – but not as expressed an alone one within the Sets. The three half-minute humorous words spoken by the German announcer, each overwhelmingly supported for a revisit from German Banter fans - allows me compare.
This year 272k tickets were sold for the United Kingdom’s five venues last night at the Proms BBC TV event this August 2007 that within the packed full Albert Hall, London event, showing the velocity of the applause of the crowd there at the Hall did not match that of the size of it as heard on this recording at the Berlin, Sportpalast. Yes, it can be matched one way or the other as done – listen - try it at your chance to so do.
Without you for an Inspiration, the finalé tune - feels like as if it was the Kid Ory signature tune. I’m Shy Mary Ellen I’m Shy, that's how it sounded like to me, is a wonderful emotional ending to an enterprising eventful super Berlin jazz concert - truly inspiring, Big Bill - yes.
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