As regular readers of my blog may be aware, I have a fondness for traditional New Orleans style jazz. The George H Buck Foundation’s group of labels has issued invaluable releases of ‘authentic’ New Orleans Jazz by many of the pioneers of the idiom with many historical releases issued on the American Music label. American Music was originally an historically important label that New Orleans jazz advocate Bill Russell founded. The original American Music label issued recordings by bunk Johnson and others and Mr. Buck purchased the label in 1990. One CD on American Music “Herb Morand 1950/ Paul Barbarin 1951,” brings performances by two prominent New Orleans musicians.
Trumpeter- vocalist Morand, in addition to his performances as a New Orleans trumpeter, had been a member of the celebrated Chicago-based Harlem Hamfats which also included Charlie and (Kansas) Joe McCoy, and New Orleans clarinetist Odell Rand. Initially the Hamfats served as accompanists for singers including Johnny Temple, Rosetta Howard and Frankie Jaxon. After their recording “Oh Red” became a hit they signed to Decca where they recorded 50 odd titles. Wikipedia describes their sound as a mix of blues, dixieland jazz and swing jazz ( I would add boogie woogie), and their recordings presage the mix of blues, swing and jive of Louis Jordan and early jump blues. They broke up around 1939 when Morand returned to New Orleans.
This CD presents one 1950 session that was recorded at J&M Studio which was the legendary studio that Cosimo Matissa operated and from which many classic recordings by Roy Brown, Paul Gayten, Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price and others was made. Morand is joined on a session by a solid band that included pianist Lester Santiago, clarinetist Albert Burbank, Eddie Pierson on trombone, Louis James on piano and Morris Morand on drums. The 5 tunes (2 songs have two takes) include a lively “Down in Honky Tonk Town” displaying the hot jazz style, as well as the hipster, “If You Are A Viper.” Some strong playing can be heard on “Pork Chop Rag,” that Morand kicks off before Burbank takes a solo exhibiting a heavy vibrato (he sometimes comes across as shrill) followed by Santiago’s rag-laced piano. Morand also takes a vocal on “None of My Jelly Roll,” with a stately opening from pianist Santiago before Burbank’s clarinet glides around Morand’s vocal (with some scatting), before taking a lengthy clarinet solo b. There are two takes of the amusing, risqué “Have You Seen My Kitty,” with nice, gruff trombone by Pierson, before the three horns come in together for the coda. The second take has a longer introduction from the horns before Morand’s vocal.
Paul Barbarin was a celebrated drum, band leader and composer (“Bourbon Street Parade” and “Second Line’). His session dates from 1951 and includes Ernie Cagnolatti on trumpet, Burbank on clarinet, Pierson on trombone and Santiago on piano. His eight selections come from two sessions and open with a terrific, swinging “Eh las Bas,” sung enthusiastically in creole french with Pierson taking a short solo before Cagnolatti rips off some hot trumpet as Pierson and Burbank collectively embellish the trumpet lead. Cagnolatti takes the lead at the start of “Lily of the Valley,” with again the other two horns embellishing things before each takes a short solo as the rhythm joyfully keeps the music going. A medium tempo “Closer Walk with Thee,” has excellent collective playing, while recording of “Panama” is terrific. Barbarin was also a terrific drum which is continually displayed throughout his recordings here.
Having recently praised a CD devoted to Barbarin, I am not surprised how good his recordings on this are. There is also a full CD of Herb Morand on American Music available. Check out www.jazzology.com for more information and to purchase. Other sources for this include louisianamusicfactory.com.
For purposes of FTC regulations, I purchased this.