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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“White Silver Sands” is a famous pop song written in 1957 by Red Matthews and covered quite often thereafter, but this Don Rondo & Billy Rock Orchestra version has a cheerful, bop-country rock feel and the melody is fun to hum (and can get stuck in yer’ head)

“Where the deep blue pearly waters
Wash upon white silver sands
There on the brink of love I kissed her
And obeyed our hearts command
Where the deep blue pearly waters
Wash upon white silver sands
We watched the sun set in the evening
In a far and distant land”

 

On the NYC Jubilee Records label, Rondo scored a Billboard #7 chart hit with this one the same year Matthews wrote it.

 

 

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On the rare La Belle Creole label, this Haitian 78 rpm of Guy du Rosier singing the rollicking, self-penned calypso “Mathilda” is a real treasure; and not only because it is basically impossible to find in any shape. Around 1948 Du Rosier and his Rhythm recorded this lively performance filled with masterful percussion, rock solid & perfectly playful piano by Bebo Valdes (father of the very famous contemporary pianist Chucho Valdes), and an energetic vocal take which was just loose enough to catch the island feeling but not lose the ensemble nuances that you need to pull off this kind of laid-back sound. Later on, in the 1950s, Harry Belafonte would do his own version of this tune to great acclaim, but this lesser-known original take (on a super clean shellac – yes!) is the one I prefer every time.

Edith Piaf once called Mr. Du Rosier, a calypso star from an early age, ”the living breath of Haiti.”

 

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Big Bill Broonzy (1893-1958), American blues legend.

Born in Mississippi, he played guitar, piano and bass, and went on to pen many blues standards, and copyrighted over 300 of them. Also, he was one of the founding faculty of Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music , in 1953.

His sides on Paramount and Vocalion (where he is sometimes called “Willie Broomzy”) are typically hard to find, they’re expensive, and are almost always pretty beat up from the jukebox joints etc. “I’ll Start Cutting On You”, a 1938 country blues on Vocalion #04095 is no exception – it is roughed-up and scratchy; but I love this tune and it still comes up wonderfully from under the hiss, promise (you could also very easily adjust the treble settings on your EQ for a less lived-in sound, and you would still enjoy the bouncy beauty of this rare pre-war gem)! Happiness.

 

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This gospel quartet caught-on in the U.S. national scene in the 1940s and kept up their popularity & musical quality into the 50s. The great Ray Charles has said that the Pilgrim Travelers, and particularly their baritone Jesse Whitaker, influenced him and his then developing musical style: a brew of blues, gospel and jazz which would eventually come to be known as “soul” music.

This acapella take of “I Was There When the Spirit Came” is vocally tight, light and snappy, especially much of the accompaniment behind the lead.  On the Specialty label out of L.A., which was known for its many excellent black rock & roll and gospel sides, this is a pretty clean copy with plenty of lustre on the shellac, and the voices are clear and really ring out so beautifully.

 

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