I can’t find any information whatsoever about this duo, Jack & Betty, who seem to be lost to history at this point. And it also seems like this is their only record: TEEN 107A, “Satisfied Mind” and 107B, “This Is My Story”.

From 1955, “Satisfied Mind” made a moderate-sized splash as a popular jukebox rendition of this Red Hayes & Jack Rhodes C+W classic which has been covered many times since it was first recorded that same year. Even Jeff Buckley, the 1990s NYC songbird who tragically died way too young at 30yrs old, did a cover of this tune, which is really amazing, and it is available on the Columbia Records release “Live at Sin-E” (Legacy Edition.) This, however, is my favorite take of this beautiful secular hymn. Jack plays the rhythm guitar and Betty plays the organ, and they sing in harmony virtually the whole time. There is also an unknown electric guitar player plucking some great sounding lead lines, wish I knew who that was… The simplicity of the arrangement, the passion in the playing and the singing, and just one hell of a lyric, make for a powerful, haunting piece of Americana.

 

 

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A legendary side man saxophonist for the likes of Aretha Franklin, Freddie Hubbard, Carl Perkins and Gladys Knights and the Pips, Jimmy Coe already had a previous recording career in the 40s and 50s and got his start playing in Jay McShann’s band sharing seats with the everlasting Charlie “Bird” Parker.

“The Jet,” on the small mid-50s Chicago label States Recording Company, is a great little groovy B3 Hammond organ and saxophone jammy-jam, and a relentless 2-and-a-half-minute flight of fancy. This virtually unknown number makes its way into many of my 78s set out in the wilds of nighttime party gigs and clubs.

Happy New Year 2019!

 

Jimmie Coe - The Jet

Tito Puente is a musical legend whose success and popularity helped bring the music and culture of Puerto Rico, Cuba and Africa to larger mainstream audiences around the world. Very often referred to as the “King of Timbales”, Puente was born in NYC in 1923 to immigrant Puerto Rican parents, and was raised in Spanish Harlem. A naturally talented and artistic child, his career spanned six decades of the 20th century, with many, many international performances, achievements, and awards; and his discography is considered a cultural treasure. A couple of notable examples of his lasting legacy are: his 1958 album Dance Mania is listed in the National Recording Registry, and his song, “Oye Como Va”, which is considered a standard (and which Carlos Santana took to even greater heights when he released his version in 1963.)

Here he is performing his pulsating, hypnotic “Mambo Rama” with his orchestra in 1955; and man do those horns sound amazing. On the New York label TICO.

 

Tito Puente - Mambo Rama

David Seville, aka Rostom “Ross” Sipan Bagdasarian, was the son of Armenian immigrants who grew up in Fresno, California. He was an actor, musician, composer and voice actor who was very successful writing music scores for movies. He actually invented Alvin and the Chipmunks in the mid 1950s and was a pioneer in altering tape speeds to change singing and speaking voices for many of his projects!

“Armen’s Theme”, is a nice, bright slice of rare 78rpm lounge from 1956; featuring some killer organ and tastefully delayed guitar, this is what I would call a “snazzy number.”

 

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João Paulo Batista de Carvalho was a famous Brazilian singer and songwriter who had a life in music lasting almost 50 years. Born in 1901 in Rio Janeiro, he began his career in the 1930s by introducing the music of Umbanda, “a Brazilian folk religion combining elements of macumba, Roman Catholicism, and South American Indian practices”, also considered white magic, to live radio programs. He was arrested many times for this because Umbanda is a religion of possession and transfixation, and people were falling into trances listening to his groups on the airwaves in Rio! (needless to say he was a hit!)

This 1947 recording of  “You Went Away”, or “Foste Embora” in Portuguese, is a really snappy and catchy batucada, which is a samba essentially but with more a pronounced African percussion style and using a specific assortment of drums. Enjoy with a caipirinha and some space to move your feet…

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This version of Jelly Roll Morton’s classic “Wild Man Blues” by jazz clarinetist Johnny Dodds (1892-1940) and his Chicago Boys is my absolute favorite ever; its melody is a New Orleans blues if ever there was one, bub. He recorded this tune several times in the course of his career, all different takes with different approaches to the solos and the arrangements. This one is from a 1938 New York session and features the New Orleans legend towards the very end of his life still playing with so much energy and so much feeling for a song which was “a hit” for him and which he presumably played very often until his premature end. He died in 1940 leaving a tremendous legacy of music and recordings, and this is one of those songs which I will always love and never forget.

Thank you, Mr. Dodds, for this little heart & joy that you left the world.

Charlie Shavers (tpt) ; Johnny Dodds (clt) ; Lil Armstrong
(p) ; Teddy Bunn (g) ; John Kirby (bs) ; O’Neil Spencer (dr)

 

 

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A. Kostis was the pseudonym of Konstantinos Bezos (1905-1943), a guitarist and singer from Greece who recorded sides for RCA Victor and Columbia in the 1930s and 40s. He played several different styles throughout his career, including a large Hawaiian steel guitar repertoire. However, this song is a “rebetika”, a kind of Greek popular song and “outlaw blues” which typically dealt with street culture: sex, violence, drugs and death. Springing up around the turn of the 20th century in places like Constantinople (Istanbul!) and Ottoman Smyrna, its origins are hazy and, as it was a song tradition associated with hashish dens, criminals, jail, and the poorest classes, it was banned for a time starting in 1937. So the music went underground and the tradition carried on, ever with the possibility of imprisonment or worse.

“Isouna Xypoliti” translates to “Without Stockings.” I looked around the internet and found a really great translation of the lyrics, which deal with a man addressing his wife who now wants luxuries like earrings:

“you were barefoot, out on the streets, now that I took you in (or married you) you even ask for a horse and stable boys, you were out in the market begging for some food, now that I took you in you want earrings”

However, because of all the antiquated Greek slang, some of the lyrics are difficult to connect. The last two verses deal with imprisoning Death to live forever, dice gambling and something about the cops, but it is not entirely clear. To me, the incomplete understanding of the lyrics is just another reason to dig in and inhabit the world and voice of the character. And the two guitar attack playing a traditional 9/4 meter full of quick, dark, and sort of “Eastern blues” runs, is hypnotizing.

This shellac is also of the much rarer 12″ sort, which makes for an almost 4-minute song, whereas most 78s are 10″ and hold between 2-3 minutes of music. Opa!

 

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