The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3015: Herb Morand & the Harlem Hamfats -
New Orleans to Harlem

Personnel:  Herb Morand [tp], Odell Rand [Eb cl], Horace Malcom [pn], Joe McCoy [g/v], Charlie McCoy [mand/g/v], John Lindsay, Ransome Knowling [sbs], Fred Flynn, Pearlis Williams [dm]

Hamfat Swing, Tempo Di Bucket, Black Gal, Jam Jamboree, Hoodooin' Woman, The Garbage Man, Growlin' Dog, Root Hog or Die, Hallelujah Joe Ain't Preachin' No More, I Love That, Baby Don't You Tear My Clothes, Southern Blues, Oh! Red, Weed Smoker's Dream, You Drink Too Much, You Done Tore Your Playhouse Down, I Feel Like Going to Town, I'm So Glad, My Daddy Was A Lovin' Man, What You Gonna Do?, We Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie, Let's Get Drunk & Truck, I'm Cuttin' Out.

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3015: Herb Morand & the Harlem Hamfats -
New Orleans to Harlem - Internet Magazine

Despite their name, the Hamfats were based in Chicago, Illinois, and were perhaps the first group created (by J. Mayo Williams) solely to make records. With some variation, the personnel consisted of New Orleans trumpeter Herb Morand, the brothers Joe and Charlie McCoy on guitar and mandolin, clarinettist Odell Rand, pianist Horace Malcolm, John Lindsay or Ransom Knowling on bass, and Pearlis Williams or Fred Flynn on drums. Morand and Joe McCoy (as "Hamfoot Ham") handled the vocals. The Hamfats blended New Orleans jazz with blues, the primary aim being to provide entertaining, danceable music. Their first release, "Oh! Red", was a considerable hit in 1936, and was frequently reworked, both by the Hamfats themselves and by others. They recorded extensively, and were also used as studio accompanists until 1939, by which time Morand had returned to New Orleans, and changing fashions had made their sound no longer commercially attractive.

Mississippi Rag - U. S. A.

This CD assembles the very important sessions by the band that was about the last gasp of creative New Orleans jazz before the revival period. In 1936 and '37 this rather odd and hybrid jazz-blues group laid down a set of jivey numbers, basic country-flavored blues and New Orleans-flavored jam session jazz. The group was comprised of Herb Morand, trumpet; Odell Rand, Eb clarinet; Horace Malcolm, piano; Joe McCoy, guitar; Charlie McCoy, mandolin; John Lindsay or Ransom Knowling, bass; Fred Flynn or Pearlis Williams, drums.
Like the spectacular Jones-Collins Astoria Hot Eight sessions of a few years earlier, the records caught Herb Morand, an important New Orleans trumpeter in the post-Louis school at the height of his powers (not quite as pyrotechnic as the heady Lee CoJlinSj howeyerj_and_in.a rrlaxod but enor-. getic context. The ~band is sui generis, with the ' McCoy brothers' country blues string foundation (evoking the old-time plectrum outfits like the 6-7/8 String Band or even the New Orleans Owls), Odell Rand's acrid Eb clarinet lines and no other horns to support Morand and Rand. Many numbers - e.g., "Oh! Red," "Southern Blues" or "Black Gal" - feel intensely skiffle-like, recalling loose vaudeville aggregations like the Memphis Jug Band or the Louisville Jug Stampers. Others fall right into the mainline New Orleans jam stomp sound of "Pork Chop" and its many avatars - see "Hamfat Swing," "Tempo di Bucket," "The Garbage Man," "Jam Jamboree," in which this modest rhythm band seems to aspire to be Red Alien and Luis Russell's big, sophisticated orchestra.
The group generates fierce ensemble swing and passion, and Morand always supplies a lyrical, intelligent lead. While he has listened to the battalions of swing trumpeters loose on the land in the mid-1980s, he also has the old New Orleans lead anthology embedded in his consciousness. His genial authority goes a long way toward justifying the title of the CD, though the basic interest here is in the whole band and in Joe and Charlie McCoy's deeply felt blues singing. The tracks demonstrate the basic idea of "soul" long before the term's currency in the 1960s.
The discs are an important link between blues and jazz, between the boogie-woogie and city blues fads of the 1930s, between swing and the jump or rhythm and blues bands of the post-World War II era. The McCoy brothers bring a countrified blues sensibility to the numbers that weirdly enough meshes fairly readily with Morand's smooth swing style and Rand's sometimes frenetic noodling. The rhythm is very strong and in the solid New Orleans vein of 4/4 bass and parade-style drumming.
All these apparently incongruous elements are neatly blended in the standard blues numbers, and the Hamfats made an important contribution to recording history in their few sessions. They were Chicago-based, New Orleans-bred and named after a section of New York City. That goes a long way toward illuminating the crossbred music here and its connections with earlier jazz and later blues. If you do not have the Hamfats' music in another form, this is a thorough collection.
- William J. Schafer - Internet website

Herb Morand was - along with Henry 'Red' Allen and 'Kid Howard - one of the continuing stream of great New Orleans trumpet players to follow in the footsteps of Louis Armstrong. The problem for them all was that Armstrong had gone first - there were no prizes for coming second. What there was however for the young and upcoming New Orleans trumpet men was a ready field of small and big band work that would earn them a good if not rich living. For Red Allen that meant a career in New York.
For Herb Morand it first meant touring jobs with dance bands in Louisiana and then almost a career's worth of recording dates and club work in Chicago. Teaming up with several fellow New Orleanians he formed the "Harlem Hamfats" a very hot and exciting little 'rent party' style band with a most powerful rhythm section featuring (among others) the McCoy brothers and ex Jelly Roll Morton bassist John Lindsay.
This little band proved enormously popular through their forty plus sides for Decca Records many of which featured thinly disguised 'racey' lyrics and all of which of course featured Morand's ever-inventive very hot and bluesy trumpet work. This CD is an excellent compilation of the best of the Harlem Hamfats tracks from the mid-1930s and a rare insight in to what was happening to New Orleans jazz once it had left the Crescent City. Good stuff.
- Brian Harvey

Just Jazz - British Jazz Magazine

Herb Morand was one of those legendary New Orleans trumpet men who - like Red Allen and Kid Howard - emerged onto the 1920s jazz scene with their talents and technique fully formed. They'd paid their dues, learned their trade in their teens listening to the giants and playing with jobbing bands in and around the town. Morand, for example, used to hitch rides in Joe Oliver's advertising wagons and pay his way by handing out leaflets. And, like Kid Howard, he'd played with the highly popular Chris Kelly, fronting the band when Kelly was off chatting up the girls, or even fronting another version of his band at a double-booked, same night gig.
Came 1929, however, and Morand - step-brottier to blues singer Lizzie Miles - decided to try his luck in Chicago. His first job was a recording date with Frank Melrose and the Dodds' brothers in the Beale Street Washboard Band - there were many more similar dates. His main break in Chicago, however, was to fall in with a group partially made up of fellow New Orleanians - the Harlem Hamfats - and to win a recording contract with Decca.
This CD is a compilation of much of their best work recorded in the mid- to late-I930s, in which they sound like a back room, 'rent party', bluesy New Orleans band. They're hot, with Morand's excellent mean-toned trumpet leading the way and very ably supported by the Eb flat clarinet of the dwarf musician, Odell Rand. The big standout here, however, is the amazing twin-guitar rhythm section of the fellow New Orleanian McCoy Brothers, backed by another Big Easy escapee, John Lindsay (ex-J.R.M. Red Hot Peppers), on bass (some tracks), the fine, romping piano of Horace Malcolm, and the excellent drumming of Fred Flynn and Pearlis Williams.
The Hamfats were, incidentally - despite their 'stage' name - always a Chicago group, and all the members found work in and around that city. Morand, however, returned to New Orleans in 1941 and recorded and played in the city until his death in 1952. He was among the very finest of New Orleans trumpet men, certainly a legend, and this CD of what is actually a 'flat out New Orleans-style romp band' (to quote Big Bill Bissonnette), is a wonderful memento and a very worthwhile collection addition. Historically, its contents are vital because they show us a little-known facet of what was happening to New Orleans jazz in the 1930s.
- Brian Harvey

Footnote: In this review I have referred to the guitar-playing McCoy brothers as New Orleanians - they are not, and hail instead from Mississippi. But - like Big Bill Bissonnette in his liner notes -1 was misled by that erroneous 'factoid' published within the sleeve note to an Ace of Hearts label LP of the Hamfats. A possible reason for the two having been thought of as New Orleanians is the fact that Joe McCoy married blues singing New Orleanian (actually Algiers!) 'Memphis Minnie' (Lizzie Douglas).

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