00_Butch Thompson on Ted Unseth
Butch Thompson is one of the world's leading authorities
on the Stride Piano style. A regular guest on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion", Butch was a Special Guest
for my Americana Classic Jazz Orchestra 20th Anniversary concerts and these comments were made prior to that occasion.
Besides his consummate piano stylings, Butch also plays excellent
traditional jazz Clarinet. He is a joy to work with and a wonder to hear.
|Paul Whiteman Orchestra_1924
"Fascinatin' Rhythm" Paul Whiteman
Paul Whiteman was known by some as "The King Of Jazz". A more
appropriate title would be "King Of The Jazz Age". His orchestra was wildly popular in the 1920's-1930's and he hired
topnotch arrangers and soloist such as George Gershwin ("Rhapsody In Blue"), Ferde Grofe ("Grand Canyon Suite"), Bix Beiderbecke,
Jimmy Dorsey and Bing Crosby.
is from the very first arrangement and recording of Gershwin's "Fascinatin' Rhythm" (with Gershwin at the piano). This
early 1920's version reflects a syncopated style popular in the day.
|Fletcher Henderson Orchestra_1926
"Why Couldn't It Be Poor Little Me?"
Fletcher Henderson Orchestra 1926
02_Why Couldn't_F. Henderson_Class
02_02_Why Couldn't_F Henderson_Jazz
Henderson had one of the most revered Jazz Orchestras of the 1920's-1930's. A host of Jazz greats passed through over
the years, including Coleman Hawkins (who was with him for 11 years) and a young Louis Armstrong.
The recording was made in a mid-'20's style, not yet as sophisticated as later
'20's arrangements, but notable for the note-for-note trumpet solo by Armstrong. The contrapuntality of the last section
is quite remarkable.
Trumpet Solo: Louis Armstrong
|Clarence Williams Orchestra_1927
"Bozo" Clarence Williams Orchestra
Clarence Williams "the First": he was the grandfather of TV and film
star, Clarence Williams III. Active on the Chicago Jazz scene of the 1920's, he was a pianist, composer, arranger, publisher,
theatrical producer and music store owner. Known primarily for his small band ensembles, he expanded to a mid-size jazz orchestra
in the late '20's and produced some fine recordings of his original arrangements.
This track, "Bozo", was based on a popular published chart. Compare this version with
the next selection below: They were both premised on the same basic chart and recorded in the same year, and yet with two
completely different, yet special, 'takes' on it.
tail section is worthy of admiration.
|Fletcher Henderson Orchestra_1927
Henderson Orchestra 1927
Many of the Fletcher Henderson arrangements of the 1920's were penned
by alto saxophonist/arranger, Don Redman ("The Little Giant of Jazz"). This chart is called "Tozo" here, but is the
same basic tune as "Bozo" (see above selection) and features Redman's clever arranging that is touted in Gunther Schuller's
"Early Jazz" book for its innovative "3-against-4" section towards the end of the piece.
|Clarence Williams Orchestra
Jack" Clarence Williams Orchestra 1927
Clarence Williams produced an off-Broadway show in the 1920's called
"Bottomlands". It was short-lived onstage, but this chart comes from the mid-size band recording session featuring his
Alto Sax Solo: Arville Harris
Cornet Solo: Joe Oliver
Solo: Buster Bailey
|Duke Ellington Orchestra_1929
Stomp" Duke Ellington Orchestra 1929
06_03_Stevedore_V. as Clt. Solo
Duke Ellington, one of the most recognized and revered Jazz bandleaders
of all time. His legacy dates back to the 1920's and you'll find early arrangements as intriguing as any. He always
attracted the finest players and arrangers, including legendary trumpeters Bubber Miley and Cootie Williams; Alto Saxophonist
Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney on baritone sax.
|Luis Russell Orchestra_1930
Shout" Luis Russell Orchestra 1930
Luis Russell was born in Panama to musically-inclined parents. At
age 17, he won a $3,000 lottery and used the money to move to New York City in 1927. He eventually became one of the
most famous New York jazz bandleaders. This was his signature tune.
Trombone Solo: J.C. Higginbotham
Alto Sax Solo: Charlie Holmes
Trumpet Solo: Henry 'Red' Allen
|Don Redman Orchestra_1931
That African' " Don Redman Orchestra 1931
08_03_Shakin'_V. as Clt. Solo
Don Redman, the Little Giant Of Jazz: an innovative arranger who provided
much material for the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra of the 1920's. He'd been commissioned by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra
to write a 'challenging' orchestration that he called "The Whiteman Stomp". The Whiteman Orchestra featured it prominently;
but Don Redman was not allowed to perform his own version of it in public.
|Bennie Moten Orchestra_1932
Moten Orchestra 1932
09_03_Toby_V. as Clt. Solo
The Bennie Moten Orchestra was early '30's hot property out of Kansas
City. A young Bill ("Count") Basie told Bennie he wanted to be his piano player. Bennie said, "But, I'm the piano
player." "Well then, get a second piano." After hearing Bill's audition, Mr. Moten did just that (see photo above).
This group eventually became the Count Basie Orchestra.
Trumpet Solo: Oran Thaddeus 'Hot Lips' Page
Tenor Sax Solo: Ben 'The Brute' Webster
Piano Solo: Bill 'Count' Basie
|Fletcher Henderson Orchestra_1933
Fletcher Henderson Orchestra 1932
10_01_Yeah Man_F. Henderson_Class
10_02_Yeah Man_F Henderson_Jazz
10_03_Yeah Man_V. as Clt. Solo
By the early 1930's, the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra was well established
as the winner of most all Battle Of The Bands (two bands playing the same venue, trading 'shots'). Coleman Hawkins said
Duke's band sounded great in the studio, but couldn't 'stomp'in person like Fletcher's. The picture above and their
music from this period reminds me of a classic Art Deco poster of a sleek locomotive steaming down the tracks.
|Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra_1933
Reeds and Screaming Brass" Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra 1933
Jimmie Lunceford was originally a high school athletic and band director
from Memphis. He organized a band of students (as I did when I formed my Classic Jazz Orchestra in 1973) that eventually
became one of the most famous and entertaining Jazz orchestras ever. Innovative arranging, expert soloing and what today we
might call gimmicks--showmanship in the form of costumes, vignettes and slapstick. A band unlike any other.
The complete title for this chart is "Flaming Reeds and Screaming Brass"--hot,
|John Kirby Sextet_1939
Riffs On" John Kirby Sextet 1939
The John Kirby Sextet, aka "The World's Greatest Little Jazz Band".
Kirby was a bassist with Fletcher Henderson and eventually formed this fine little group. Trumpeter Charlie Shavers
did most of the arranging and several charts were based on famous Classical music motifs; e.g. this one: featuring the main
theme of Movement 2 of Beethoven's 7th Symphony.
arranging, deft performance--a classic, historically significant chapter in the Story of Jazz.