Monday, 20 February 2012

Let's Love Again / The Mojo - Sax Mallard & Orch (Aristocrat 2001)







Recorded in Chicago in December 1947. Released in March 1948. Personnel: Sax Mallard (clarinet on "Let's Love Again" and alto sax on "The Mojo"); Jimmy Bowman (piano on "The Mojo" and vocal / piano on "Let's Love Again"). Other possible personnel according to the Red Saunders Foundation website: Bill Casimir (tenor sax); W.B "Sleepy" Nelson (drums); Johnny Morton (trumpet on "The Mojo").

This record on Aristocrat (the predecessor of Chess) came from Oett "Sax" Mallard's first session as a leader. He already had considerable musical experience, starting out with the big band led by his high school class mate Nat "King" Cole which toured with the "Shuffle Along" review in 1937 and ended up stranded in California. Nat opted to stay out on the Coast which proved to be a fortuitous career move, while Sax worked his way back to the Windy City.

Mallard's subsequent career included spells in the big bands of Duke Ellington and Floyd Campbell before becoming part of the early R&B scene in Chicago as part of the "Jump" Jackson band from 1946 onwards. Full discographical and biographical details are on that unrivalled repository of all things to do with Chicago R&B history, the Red Saunders Foundation website. The lengthy page devoted to Sax Mallard is here:

http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~campber/mallard.html

The history of the Aristocrat label is here:

http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~campber/aristocrat.html

"Let's Love Again" / "The Mojo" was released in March 1948 and sold well in Los Angeles but failed to make the local charts in Chicago or New York. The A Side is a pleasant ballad nicely interpreted by Jimmy Bowman. Unlike some ballad sides from this era it hasn't dated too badly, in my opinion. It has a certain coolness a la Nat "King" Cole. "The Mojo" is a piece of instrumental exotica with good "growl" trumpet and fine guitar work.

Once again we must pay tribute to El Enmascarado for his sterling work in reviving these sides from very worn shellac. The Masked One says: "Before cleaning I couldn't get the B side to play through at all. I especially like how at :10, Sax's guitar player slips and unintentionally hits the open E and B strings on his guitar. They kept it ..."

There you have it - musician, record collector, reviver of battered shellac and masked wrestler. A CV that yells defiance against this crazy corporatized world.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

From the Aristocrat Records story: "Complaints of poor sound quality showed up in more than one review of the early Aristocrats. The sides had been recorded at Universal; reissues from the masters have always sounded good. The fault must have lain with some of the pressings, which were still being done on old-fashioned shellac and ground limestone." Aha! That's kind of what I suspected. The Aristocrats I've seen weren't really beat up, but never sounded as good as they looked. I didn't know that they had some of the earliest Muddy Waters stuff on there, either.

dlwilson26 said...

Thanks for the nice post about Aristocrat Records. Like you, I really enjoy the music from this time and place.

You seem to be deeper into this than me so I have a question: I've been trying to find recordings of King Kolex and his band. In the early 50's John Coltrane and Gene Ammons toured with him. I'm pretty sure it was the chiltin' circuit. There was a book recently published by Preston Lauterbach but he never mentions King Kolex who was a force in Chicago. Any information would be helpful.

Enjoying your blog!

David Wilson
loudcaster.com/channels/1015-hipjukebox

boogiewoody said...

Hi David

Everything you could possibly want to know about King Kolax is on the Red Saunders Foundation website on this page:

http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~campber/kolax.html

Better set aside an hour or so, or perhaps more! I was surprised to read that John Coltrane played alto sax in King's last big band line up in 1947. The tenor sax men were Lynn Hope and Joe Houston!

As for buying his recordings - I simply don't know. I've had a quick look and apart from a few mp3s on Amazon I can't find anything.