Al “Jazzbo” Collins, and fairy tales from my youth that you should listen to

June 18, 2019

Al “Jazzbo” Collins at the microphone of WNEW AM radio in New York City, undated. Metromedia photo

I don’t know where they came from, or who in the family bought them. I think they appeared before 1956 and our move from Overland Avenue to Conant Avenue in Burley, Idaho.

There were two discs, 78 rpm as I recall. Fairy tales, told by a guy with a great baritone and cool jazz playing behind him. Four stories, right out of the nursery rhyme/fairy tale books — but with the conscience of a beat raconteur thrown in.

My favorite: “The Three Little Pigs.”

“Cream of Nowhere!”

Al “Jazzbo” Collins told the stories, according to the label. I think I was in my teens before I noticed the name of Steve Allen, polymath genius, as author. And I assumed that the narration was Allen in one of his characters, and maybe the jazz piano, too.

Later I discovered there really was an Al Collins, who went by the nickname Jazzbo. Two discs by a guy using Steven Allen’s writing . . .

I wish I had those discs now.

It’s almost impossible to do justice to the great beat twists in the stories, from memory. The music was good, and that can’t be retold. To tell the great good humor and joy of those records, you gotta have the records to listen to.

Then I stumbled across “The Three Little Pigs” on YouTube. Brilliantly, this video features an old record player playing the thing. It’s almost like we used to play it, set the needle down on the record and watch it spin while we listened.


Important history not covered in the Texas standards: Electric bass, 1935 to 1969

October 4, 2018

Scott Devine and a blue Fender Bass. Scott's the guy behind the YouTube monster, Scott's Bass Lessons.

Scott Devine and a blue Fender Bass. Scott’s the guy behind the YouTube monster, Scott’s Bass Lessons.

It’s from Scott’s Bass Lessons — but history you need. Let Scott and the video speak for itself.

The Bass, 1935-1969: The Players You need to know.

Am I biased toward bass? Well, yeah — biased toward most stuff in the bass clef, really.

Larry Graham? Heck, in comments here, tell who your favorite bass player was, before 1970. And in hopes of actually stimulating a conversation, throw in any double-bass, stand-up bass players you want to add.

More:

Patent for the first electric bass built by the Fender company, March 24, 1953. Clarence L. Fender (Leo Fender) claimed a patent on the "ornamental design" of the "guitar." I see no mention that it's a bass. Interesting.

Patent for the first electric bass built by the Fender company, March 24, 1953. Clarence L. Fender (Leo Fender) claimed a patent on the “ornamental design” of the “guitar.” I see no mention that it’s a bass. This is the same drawing Scott shows in the video.  Interesting. Via Google Patent.


Great jingle bell jazz, from Wynton Marsalis and the JLCO

December 30, 2015

Image from Avi Ofer's film,

Image from Avi Ofer’s film, “Jingle Bells,” with the JLCO. Image from Jazz Blog

Great animation, great orchestra, great arrangement, great song!

YouTube description and details:

Make the Yuletide swing with Jingle Bells from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis! Jingle Bells is featured on BIG BAND HOLIDAYS, their new album out now on Blue Engine Records.

Produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center and 1504
Animation by Avi Ofer

Buy BIG BAND HOLIDAYS: http://ow.ly/UlULZ

BIG BAND HOLIDAYS is the first holiday album ever released by DownBeat Readers Poll’s Best Big Band of 2013 & 2014, Big Band Holidays features original big band arrangements of timeless favorites including Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, We Three Kings, and White Christmas. Nine-time GRAMMY Award winner and Pulitzer Prize winner Wynton Marsalis and the JLCO are joined by special guest vocalists Cécile McLorin Salvant, Gregory Porter, and René Marie on what’s sure to become a holiday classic.

Subscribe to our channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP108…

To learn more about Jazz at Lincoln Center, visit us at http://www.jazz.org

Especially with two or three FM stations in Dallas running Christmas music nonstop from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I grow weary of the same, hoary old arrangements. Nor can I live forever on the great choral stuff from the classical station.

Jazz at Christmas puts me at ease, and into the spirit.

So it is that every Christmas, after the actual holiday, I go shopping for deals on Christmas jazz. This new album from Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) is good enough, it may not be discounted. Marketers will hold it until next year. When we buy from Blue Engine Records, profits probably support Jazz at Lincoln Center.

But you can listen to it now, with the wonderful Avi Ofer animation above.

Or, listen to every song from the album performed live just a few weeks ago:


Typewriter of the moment: Alan Lomax, folk music historian, 1942

October 18, 2009

Alan Lomax at the typewriter, 1942 - Library of Congress photo

Alan Lomax at the typewriter, 1942, using the "hunt and peck method" of typing - Library of Congress photo

Who was Alan Lomax?  Have you really never heard of him before?

Lomax collected folk music, on wire recorders, on tape recorders, in written form, and any other way he could, on farms, at festivals, in jails, at concerts, in churches, on street corners — anywhere people make music.  He did it his entire life.  He collected music in the United States, across the Caribbean, in Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Spain and Italy.

Alan Lomax, Woody Guthrie, Lillie Mae Ledford and an obscured Sonny Terry, New York, 1944 (Library of Congress Collection - photographer unknown)

Alan Lomax, Woody Guthrie, Lillie Mae Ledford and an obscured Sonny Terry, New York, 1944 (Library of Congress Collection - photographer unknown)

Almost all of that collection is in the Library of Congress’s unsurpassed American Folklife collection, from which dozens of recordings have been issued.

Born in 1915, Alan Lomax began collecting folk music for the Library of Congress with his father [John Lomax] at the age of 18. He continued his whole life in the pursuit of recording traditional cultures, believing that all cultures should be recorded and presented to the public. His life’s work, represented by seventy years’ worth of documentation, will now be housed under one roof at the Library, a place for which the Lomax family has always had strong connections and great affection.

Were that all, it would be an outstanding record of accomplishment.  Lomax was much more central to the folk revivals in the both England and the U.S. in the 1950s and 19602, though, and in truth it seemed he had a hand in everything dealing with folk music in the English-speaking world and then some.  Carl Sagan used Lomax as a consultant to help choose the music to be placed on the disc sent into space with the exploring satellite Voyager, “the Voyager Golden Record.”

Have you listened to and loved Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo,” and the famous passage, “Hoedown?”  How about Miles Davis, with the Gil Evans-produced “Sketches of Spain?”  [Thank you, Avis Ortner.]  Then you know the work of Alan Lomax, as Wikipedia explains:

  • The famous “Hoedown” in Aaron Copland‘s 1942 ballet Rodeo was taken note for note from Ruth Crawford Seeger‘s piano transcription of the square-dance tune, “Bonypart” (“Bonaparte’s Retreat”), taken from a recording of W. M. Stepp’s fiddle version, originally recorded in Appalachia for the Library of Congress by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax in 1937. Seeger’s transcription was published in Our Singing Country (1941) by John A. and Alan Lomax and Ruth Crawford Seeger.
  • Miles Davis‘s 1959 Sketches of Spain album adapts the melodies “Alborada de vigo” and “Saeta” from Alan Lomax’s Columbia World Library album Spain.

Lomax died in 2002.

Other resources:


“To Hear Your Banjo Play” featuring Pete Seeger, written and produced by Alan Lomax.
Trailer for the PBS P.O.V. film, “The Song Hunter,” by Rogier Kappers

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “POV – Lomax the Songhunter | PBS“, posted with vodpod

Sing out!

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