Monday, 20 February 2017

Cootie Williams & His Orchestra - Gator Tail

Side 1:
01. You Talk A Little Trash
02. Typhoon
03. I Love You, Yes I Do (vocal - Billy Matthews and The Balladeers)
04. Smooth Sailing
05. Gator Tail, Part 1
06. Gator Tail, Part 2
07. Let 'Em Roll (vocal - Bob Merrill)
08. Slidin' And Glidin'

Side 2:
01. Mercenary Papa (vocal - Eddie Mack)
02. You Got To Pay Those Dues (vocal - Eddie Mack)
03. Doin' The Gator Tail
04. Shotgun Boogie (vocal - Eddie Mack)
05. Divorce Me C.O.D. (vocal - Eddie Mack)
06. Steam Roller Blues (vocal - Eddie Mack)
07. Beauty Parlor Gossip (vocal - Eddie Mack)

Download from here:

As promised, here's a homemade comp which takes a look at the final recording years of the Cootie Williams Orchestra as an R&B act. I've given the cover a similar appearance to one of my favourite reissue labels, Jonas Bernholm's "Saxophonograph." The faux "Saxophony" label is also a tribute to one of my favourite CDs, "Saxophony: Jubilee Honkers & Shouters" on the Sequel label.

This late period in the recording career of the Cootie Williams Orchestra was described in the original 2010 post of "Typhoon," including a brief look at the careers of Bob Merrill and Eddie Mack. Since then I've managed to acquire some more of the tracks Willis Jackson recorded with Cootie, hence the appearance of this comp.

Towards the end of 1947 Cootie slimmed down his big band to a small group and signed on with Mercury Records for whom he recorded under his own name and also occasionally as a backing group for Dinah Washington. The first Mercury session took place on the eve of the AFM recording ban, with the band laying down 4 tracks under their own name, and also backing Dinah Washington on tracks which included "Record Ban Blues."

The next recording session wasn't until March 1949 by which time young tenor sax sensation Willis Jackson had joined the band. The two parter "Gator Tail" was a honking, squealing sensation among fans of the "muscular" approach to tenor sax playing and now makes its long awaited first appearance on the blog. The unreleased "Doin' The Gator Tail" from a September 1949 session is probably even better.

The Cootie Williams band (still featuring Willis Jackson and blues shouter Eddie Mack) signed with the Derby label at the very end of 1950 (announced in "Cashbox" on December 30th 1950). Their only recording session for the label probably took place in January 1951 and produced 4 sides, all vocal outings for Mack, which were released on 2 singles in the first half of that year. These sides mark the end of the Williams outfit as an R&B recording act, and eventually Cootie would return to the swing / jazz idiom.

Willis Jackson started recording under his own name while still a member of Cootie's band. His first sides were recorded for Apollo in January 1950. In July 1951 he recorded sides for Atlantic and went on to feature in many sessions for that label, particularly with his wife Ruth Brown and with The Clovers. Towards the end of the 1950s he started recording small group sides for Prestige in what has come to be known as the "Soul Jazz" style. His groups featured Hammond organ players such as Brother Jack McDuff, Freddie Roach and Carl Wilson, and guitarist Bill Jennings. I'm a big fan of this style of jazz or r&b or soul or whatever you want to call it, but it lies outwith the usual scope of this blog.

Willis Jackson - "Mad Man of the Saxophone"
Back to the 1940s and early '50s - here's the lowdown on the fine vibes on this comp:

Track info and release details:

Side 1, tracks 1-4, "You Talk A Little Trash," "Typhoon," "I Love You, Yes I Do," and "Smooth Sailing" were recorded in New York City on December 27th, 1947.

Personnel: Cootie Williams (trumpet) with - Bob Merrill (trumpet); Rupert Cole (alto sax, clarinet); Bill "Weasel" Parker (tenor sax); Arnold Jarvis (piano); Mundell Lowe (guitar); Leonard Swain (bass); Sylvester "Vess" Payne (drums); Billy Matthews (vocal); The Balladeers (vocal group)

I Love You, Yes I Do / Smooth Sailing - released on Mercury 8073, March 1948

You Talk A Little Trash (And I'll Spend A Little Cash) / Typhoon - released on Mercury 8083, May 1948.

Side 1, tracks 5-8, "Gator Tail, Part 1," "Gator Tail, Part 2," "Let 'Em Roll," and "Slidin' And Glidin'," were recorded in New York City on March 2nd, 1949.

Personnel: Cootie Williams (trumpet) with - Bob Merrill (trumpet, vocal); Rupert Cole (alto sax); Willis Jackson (tenor sax); Lester Fauntleroy (piano); Leonard "Heavy" Swain (bass); Gus Johnson (drums)

'Gator Tail - Pt. 1 / 'Gator Tail - Pt. 2 - released on Mercury 8131, May 1949.

Let 'Em Roll / Slidin' and Glidin' - released on Mercury 8143, August 1949.

Side 2, tracks 1-3, "Mercenary Papa," "You Got To Pay Those Dues," and "Doin' The Gator Tail" were recorded in New York City on September 20th, 1949.

Personnel: Cootie Williams (trumpet) with - Eddie Mack (vocals); Bob Merrill (trumpet); Rupert Cole (alto sax;) Willis Jackson (tenor sax); Lester Fauntleroy (piano); Leonard "Heavy" Swain (bass); Gus Johnson (drums)

Mercenary Papa / You Got To Pay Those Dues - released on Mercury 8168, March 1950.

Doin' The Gator Tail - not released.

Side 2, tracks 4-7, "Shotgun Boogie," "Divorce Me C.O.D.," "Steam Roller Blues," and "Beauty Parlor Gossip" were recorded in New York City, early 1951.

Personnel: Cootie Williams (trumpet) with - Eddie Mack (vocals); Rupert Cole (clarinet, alto sax); Willis Jackson (tenor sax); Arnold Jarvis (piano); Richard Fullbright (guitar); Ed Thigpen (drums)

The Shot Gun Boogie / Divorce Me C.O.D. Blues - released on Derby 756, January / February 1951.

Steamroller Blues / Beauty Parlor Gossip - released on Derby 784, March 1951.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Cootie Williams & His Orchestra - Typhoon (re-up)

Side One:
1. Typhoon
2. Saturday Night (vocal – Tony Warren)
3. I Can't Get Started
4. Save The Bones For Henry Jones (vocal – Bob Merrell)
5. Ooh La La (vocal – Bob Merrell)
6. I Want To Be Loved (vocal – Billy Matthews)
7. Divorce Me COD Blues (vocal – Eddie Mack)

Side Two:
1. Shotgun Boogie (vocal – Eddie Mack)
2. You Talk A Little Trash
3. If It's True (vocal – Billy Matthews)
4. I Shoulda Been Thinkin' Instead Of Drinkin' (vocal – Bob Merrell)
5. Sound Track
6. Inflation Blues (vocal – Bob Merrell)
7. I'm Beginning To See The Light (vocal – Tony Warren)

Download from here:

Original post (19th September 2010) is here:

That post includes an in-depth look at the Cootie Williams Orchestra after the departure of Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson plus information and recommended purchases of CDs for the blues shouters who filled the Vinson gap: Bob Merrill and Eddie Mack. The period covered by this compilation (1945 - 1950) saw the downsizing of the Williams outfit from a big band to a small jump combo.

Recording dates and personnel are on the back cover of the LP.

Additional release info on the tracks:

I'm Beginning To See The Light / Saturday Night (Is The Loneliest Night Of The Week) - Hit 7131 / Majestic 7131 - March 1945

I Want to Be Loved / I Can't Get Started - Majestic 1136 - May 1947

Inflation Blues / Sound Track - Majestic 1150 - June 1947

Ooh, La-La / If It's True - Majestic 1165 - September 1947

Save The Bones For Henry Jones / I Should A' Been Thinkin' Instead Of Drinkin' - Majestic 1172 - October 1947

You Talk A Little Trash (And I'll Spend A Little Cash) / Typhoon - Mercury 8083 - May 1948

Divorce Me C.O.D. Blues / Shotgun Boogie - Derby 756 - early 1951

Our next post will be a new look at the final years of the Cootie Williams Orchestra as an R&B outfit, featuring the introduction of Willis Jackson as the band's wild man of the tenor sax.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Cootie Williams & His Orchestra - Echoes Of Harlem (re-up)

Side 1
1. Echoes Of Harlem
2. Things Ain't What They Used To Be (vocal – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson)
3. Tess' Torch Song (vocal – Pearl Bailey)
4. You Talk A Little Trash
5. Sweet Lorraine
6. Cherry Red Blues (vocal – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson)
7. 'Round Midnight
8. Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby? (vocal – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson)

Side 2
1. Blue Garden Blues
2. Floogie Boo (vocal – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson)
3. I Don't Know
4. Gotta Do Some War Work (vocal – Cootie Williams)
5. My Old Flame
6. Now I Know (vocal – Pearl Bailey)
7. Somebody's Gotta Go (vocal – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson)
8. Honeysuckle Rose

Download from here:

Original post (4th September 2010) is here:

Read the post and the back cover of the LP for the background to these recordings and information on the personnel.

Recorded in New York City for Hit/Majestic on the 4th and 6th of January and the 22nd of August 1944.

1. Echoes Of Harlem (January 6, 1944)
2. Things Ain't What They Used To Be (January 6, 1944)
3. Tess' Torch Song (January 6, 1944)
4. You Talk A Little Trash (January 4, 1944)
5. Sweet Lorraine (January 6, 1944)
6. Cherry Red Blues (January 6, 1944)
7. 'Round Midnight (August 22, 1944)
8. Is You Is Or Is You Ain't? (August 22, 1944)
9. Blue Garden Blues (August 22, 1944)
10. Floogie Boo (January 4, 1944)
11. I Don't Know (January 4, 1944)
12. Gotta Do Some War Work (January 4, 1944)
13. My Old Flame (January 6, 1944)
14. Now I Know (January 6, 1944)
15. Somebody's Gotta Go (August 22, 1944)
16. Honeysuckle Rose (January 6, 1944)

Original 78 rpm releases:

Hit 7075 - Now I Know / Tess's Torch song - April 1944

Hit 7084 (Majestic 7084) - Cherry Red Blues / Things Ain't What They Used To Be - April 1944

Hit 7108 (Majestic 7108) - Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby? / Blues Garden Blues - September 1944

Hit 7119 (Majestic 7119) also Hit 7148 - Somebody's Gotta Go / 'Round Midnight - December 1944

*Hit 7131 (Majestic 7131) - I'm Beginning To See The Light / Saturday Night Is The Loneliest Night Of The Week - March 1945 - not on this LP. See next post "Typhoon."

The following four 78 rpm discs were released on Hit album H-122 ("Echoes Of Harlem") in October 1944:

Hit 8087 - My Old Flame / Echoes of Harlem

Hit 8088 - Sweet Lorraine / Honeysuckle Rose

Hit 8089 - You Talk a Little Trash / Floogie Boo

Hit 8090 - I Don't Know / Gotta Do Some War Work (Do Some War Work Baby)

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Rockin' The Room!

Side 1:
01. Ha Ha Ha Blues - Jimmy Cavallo And His House Rockers
02. Little Rock Special - Pat The Cat And His Kittens
03. Yes, Indeed! - Bill Haley And Haley's Comets
04. Poison Ivy - Boyd Bennett And His Rockets
05. My Baby Loves Me - Charlie Gracie And The Wildcats
06. Hound Dog - Freddie Bell And The Bellboys
07. Shake A Hand - The Mike Pedicin Quintet
08. Boogie At Midnight - Boyd Bennett And His Rockets

Side 2:
01. Wildwood Boogie - Charlie Gracie And The Wildcats
02. Ooh Baby Ooh - Dave Appell And The Applejacks
03. Dim Dim The Lights (I Want Some Atmosphere) - Bill Haley And His Comets
04. Move Me Baby - Freddie Bell And The Bellboys
05. Disc Jockey's Boogie - The Mike Pedicin Quintet
06. Head Home Honey - Charlie Gracie And The Wildcats
07. The Most - Boyd Bennett And His Rockets
08. Giddy Up A Ding Dong - Freddie Bell And The Bellboys

Download from:

In recent posts I mentioned in passing that The Treniers were an acknowledged influence on early rock and roll bands who played a style of music which Charlie Gillett in his ground breaking book "The Sound Of The City " labelled "northern band rock 'n' roll." The sax driven bands which played this music mostly hailed from the Philadelphia area, but we start off our home made comp of this early form of rock 'n' roll with two bands whose roots lay further north, in upstate New York.

Jimmy Cavallo was featured in a previous post, "Rock The Joint" in which I looked at the development of early rock 'n' roll from rockin' R&B via the history of the song "Rock The Joint" which was originally recorded by the jump band of Jimmy Preston in Philadelphia in 1949. A Philadelphia based cowboy band, Bill Haley and The Saddlemen, recorded a countrified version in 1952, but the honour of being the first white artist to cover Preston's wild recording probably goes to Jimmy Cavallo who had been playing R&B in the clubs and dance halls of the North Carolina beach resorts in 1948 and 1949. A move back to his hometown of Syracuse, New York State, and subsequent gigs at the Oneida Lake resort of Sylvan Beach saw his brand of R&B gain an enthusiastic new audience and the chance to record for the tiny BSD label of Auburn, NY in 1951 or thereabouts, the precise dates of his recordings being somewhat in doubt.

Our comp features his first record for BSD, "Ha Ha Ha Blues," an adaptation of "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" which was the B Side of an Atlantic disc by Joe Morris, "Jump Everybody Jump." The Morris record was released in March 1951, so a date sometime later in the same year for the Cavallo version is perfectly feasible.

Another upstate New York group to feature on BSD was Pat The Cat and His Kittens. Tenor saxman Pat "The Cat" Monforte and his drummer brother Tony came from Binghampton, NY. Again, the precise year of his recording of "Little Rock Special" is in doubt. Tony Monforte posited 1952, but some websites give the year as late as 1956. Whatever the reality, it's a rousing piece of rock'n'roll with a vocal by Vic Fontaine. Apologies for the sound quality on this track which I ripped from a bootleg LP.

Most of the remaining acts on this comp are Philadelphia bands, with the exception of Southerner Boyd Bennett. Of course the best known band is that of Bill Haley, about whom there have been several posts on the blog. "Destination Rock and Roll" (and here) traces the development of his sound from country to R&B and rock and roll through his recordings for small Philadelphia labels Holiday and Essex from 1951 to 1953. For this comp I've chosen an Essex recording from 1953, "Yes, Indeed!" which remained unreleased until 1957 when it was used as the B Side of a London UK issue of "Rock The Joint." I've also added a Decca recording from September 1954, "Dim Dim The Lights" which hasn't featured on any of the previous Bill Haley posts.

Freddie Bell And The Bellboys had the rather surreal distinction of failing to chart in the U.S. while reaching number 4 in the British top ten with "Giddy Up A Ding Dong" in September 1956. Freddie and the boys (reinforced by Mickey "Guitar" Baker) had recorded the track for Mercury in New York City in February 1956. Almost exactly a year before that The Bellboys recorded some sides in their hometown of Philadelphia for the small Teen label. Among the sides were covers of Ruth Brown's "5-10-15 Hours" and Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog." In April 1956 Elvis saw The Bellboys performing the latter number in Vegas and borrowed their arrangement for his own hit version.

In the early 1950s Philadelphia's top R&B independent label was Gotham. Mike Pedicin and Charlie Gracie both recorded for the Gotham subsidiary 20th Century. Native Philadelphian Charlie Gracie was a blues influenced guitarist and singer who recorded some sides for the NYC based Cadillac label in the early 1950s, including a track called "Rockin' and Rollin'." In 1955 he recorded 2 singles for 20th Century - "My Baby Loves Me" / "Head Home Honey" and "Honey Honey" / "Wildwood Boogie." Charlie went on to greater popularity on the Cameo label in 1957 with "Butterfly" and "Fabulous." Both of these discs were also hits in the UK along with "I Love You So Much It Hurts," "Wanderin' Eyes" and "Cool Baby."

"Wildwood Boogie" was a tribute to the New Jersey resort which hosted many Philly holidaymakers and where many of the bands on this comp had regular seasonal residencies. When saxman Mike Pedicin covered Fay Adam's R&B hit "Shake A Hand" b/w "Disc Jockey's Boogie" on 20th Century in 1954, he was already a music business veteran who had been organising small swing bands to play Philly and New Jersey venues since the early 1940s. In 1955 he signed up with major label RCA Victor for whom he recorded until 1957 but was unable to see any chart action. In 1958 his re-recording of "Shake A Hand" for Cameo did have a brush with the lower reaches of the charts (number 71) but that was that as far as the hit parade was concerned. However Mike Pedicin continued to record and feature as a live act for decades.

Dave Appell was a member of one of Mike Pedicin's early bands, playing rhythm guitar in The Four Sharpes. After leaving the Pedicin outfit he worked as a big band arranger and then formed his own group The Dave Appell Trio. The group recorded for London in 1950 and then as Dave Appell and The Applejacks for Decca in 1954. "Ooh Baby Ooh!" was recorded for the small President label in New York in August 1955. The Applejacks made it to Vegas but soon headed back to Philly where they inked a pact with Cameo for whom they produced a string of releases in 1957-59. Dave Appell moved to arranging and producing side of the business, providing backing on Cameo discs by Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell.

Boyd Bennett was a son of the South, born in Alabama and raised in Tennessee. His band was originally called The Southlanders and they started recording under that name for King in 1952. Bennett played as a drummer on some King R&B sides and started moving his band from country to a more R&B based sound at the beginning of 1955, changing the band's name to The Rockets which was more in keeping with the new rock and roll craze.

At a session in early January 1955 Boyd and his band recorded their biggest hit "Seventeen" (number 5 in July 1955) which was squarely aimed at the teenage market. Of more interest to blog followers are the R&B cover versions which Bennett recorded at the same session. I've included two of them - Willie Mabon's "Poison Ivy" and Roy Brown's "Boogie At Midnight." Also recorded at the same session but not included here was a cover of B.B. King's "You Upset Me Baby." Also on this comp is a track from an October 1955 - "The Most" - a more mainstream rock and roll record which features a vocal by "Big Moe" Joe Muzey.

Recommended listening:

"Rare Rock'N'Roll Rampage" (Properbox 146). Jimmy Cavallo, Boyd Bennett, Freddie Bell, Eddie Fontaine, Dave Appell, The Treniers, Joe Bennett & The Sparkletones, and others. 4CD set of band rock 'n' roll, ranging from genuinely hip to kinda square.

"Have Yourself A Ball" a compilation of  rock 'n' roll sides from Gotham subsidiary 20th Century. Appeared as an LP on Krazy Kat in the UK in the 1980s and has reappeared in various guises as a CD. Mike Pedicin, Charlie Gracie, Don Haven and The Hi-Fi's, The Playboys, The Nu-Tones, Bobby Boyd's Jazz Bombers.