Mr. Charles COULD certainly play a mambo if he felt like it; and lord was he a brilliant piano player who could SWING-it when he felt like that, thank the LORD.

From 1956, when he was 26yo.

mary ann selda

 

mary ann ray charles

 

 

Willie “Billy” Gales was Ike Turner’s drummer during the 1940s and 50s, but he did cut a few sides as a singer in his lifetime. This tune, “If I Never Had Known You” is a Turner original; is a lyric about feeling low and ashamed (and grateful); is sung so tenderly, but in the way of a powerful gospel singer confessing himself to his congregation.

This is on Federal Records out of Cincinnati, which was actually Mr. James Brown’s first label. Released in 1956, it has that warm, hi-fi fidelity which is a feature of many great 1950s-era 78 rpm recordings.

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Conti Condoli was a well-known trumpeter in the 1940s & 50s. He had a long, strong, and creative career playing and recording with superstars of the era: Sarah Vaughn, Stan Kenton and Woody Herman to name a few. Remarkably, in 1972, he ended up a permanent fixture in the Tonight Show band; Johnny Carson was the host of the show.

Here he is on a rare side as leader, on a small-ran Chicago label called Chance. This delicious mambo features legendary Chicago horn man/woodmind man, Ira Sullivan!

From 1954, an urban scorcher, and recorded so beautifully.                                                                                               Conti Condoli - Mambo Junior 78rpm

Made in Chicago, this Magic Sam side, on the Cobra Record Corp. label, is a classic – this one has been haunting me for weeks now, and I just can’t get enough of this all-out soulful, electric blues sound. Late 50s cut; Magic Sam has a vocal delivery so reminiscent of the great Otis Rush at this time in his career (and they were Cobra label mates during these years, so); the guitar sounds like voltage being strummed.

Yes, this one is a tad scratchy because it has been loved to death in one jukebox or another for many years, years ago. I dug it out for free virtually at a favorite vinyl shop. I hope to have this one forever.

Magic Sam - Everything Gonna Be Alright

I really love this one.

Wildwood Flower is a timeless, classic, immortal, indispensable tune. I first heard Maybelle Carter, of the great Carter Family, do a version of it on The Johnny Cash Show sometime in the 70s. This is a solo guitar take on it, masterfully and playfully performed by one of the geniuses of the instrument: Chet Atkins.

Also, this a vinyl 78, which came about in the later years of the 78rpm era. Virtually all 78s, until about the early 1950s, were made of a combination material consisting of pitch and shellac ; shellac being the secretion of the female lac bug, which live in the forests of Thailand and India. During the WWII effort, shellac was recalled and collected by the government to be used for military materials, and vinyl became the standard. Vinyl, in fact, sounds fuller and is much quieter than shellac. Plus, you could fit many more grooves (micro grooves actually) on to the side of a vinyl than a shellac ; hence, the birth of long playing 33 and 45 rpm records.

This is also a rare, DJ only copy that RCA would send out to radio stations for promotional purposes. The melody will get stuck in your head.

Chet Atkins – Wildwood Flower << PLAY

Cliff Edwards (Ukulele Ike) was a hugely popular American singer and voice actor during the 1920s and 30s. His musical output was almost completely as a renditionist, scoring many hits on the pop and novelty charts of the day.

In 1929, Mr. Edwards landed a #1 with his version of “Singing in the Rain.” He also had a career in voice-overs, most famously as Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s Pinocchio (1940). I have chosen “After My Laughter Came Tears” – one of my favorite Ukulele Ike performances, because his feeling and sentiment goes so well with the lyric, which is itself a thing of beautiful economy and honesty.

The song itself has lived on for a long time and has been covered repeatedly and prominently. I will also eventually post another, much different, jump-spirited take of the tune which was performed by the Arnold Johnson Orchestra; and probably soon enough to have a timely comparison.

Ukulele Ike – After My Laughter Came Tears << PLAY

This is the other side of that rare, red, French Polydor that I posted so long ago. It is Brailowsky (solo piano) playing Robert Schumann’s “Songes Troubles”; “Traumes Wirren” in the composer’s native German, or: “Dream Disorders” in English. I also really like how the piano was recorded.

Quick notes on Schumann: his parents were not musical but they encouraged his interest in music with piano lessons from the age of 10. However, his family was later to be beset by tragedy. When Schumann was in his teens, his father died and his sister committed suicide in quick succession, events that were to have a deep impact on the young musician. Initially music was to take a back seat in his life. For his main subject he studied law at Leipzig while simultaneously continuing his music studies. One of his music teachers was Friedrich Wieck whose daughter Clara showed a great talent at the piano while she was only 9 years old. A further tragedy was to hit Schumann when a mishap damaged one of his hands and spoiled his chances as a pianist. Some accounts blame a device he used to strengthen his fingers, but other theories suggest mercury poisoning as a side effect of his syphilis treatment. After the accident, Schumann was to concentrate more on composing.

Alexandre Brailowsky – Songes Troubles, Op. 12, No 7, Schumann < < PLAY