Recorded in 1952, “Nostalgia” and “Caminito” by Emil Coleman are characteristic tangos of 1940s & 50s NYC hotel nightlife, and feature his impressive, well-gigged Orchestra. These certainly have a cinematic quality to them as the brass, strings, winds and piano drive and interplay some serious, moody romance. Pizzicato passages sneak into the drama, along with some tasteful accordion flourishes, reminding us of the essence of tangos – they are the sensual partner-dance that began to evolve in 1880s Buenos Aires from the combination of Spanish tangos and Argentine milongas.

Emil Coleman was born in Odessa, Russia in 1892 and by the 1920s was a star orchestra leader performing in the high-society hotels of New York City, most notably the Trocadero and the Waldorf-Astoria. He also recorded quite a bit for Vocalion, Brunswick, Columbia and RCA Victor labels, and had many hits on the national pop charts.

Couldn’t decide which side of this excellent tango 78 to post, so I went with both.

 

“Nostalgia”

“Caminito”

 

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Johnny Hamp’s Kentucky Serenaders was a jazz and dance band that was active from the mid 1910s to about 1937 or so. They were popular, toured constantly and recorded around 100 tunes, virtually all for the Victor label. Their biggest hit was a 1926 cover of “Black Bottom”, a tune written by Perry Bradford in 1919 which became a national dance craze and which surpassed the popularity of the Charleston.

Recorded on November 9, 1927 in Chicago, at 952 N. Michigan Avenue, the address that used to be the home of the Victor Talking Machine Company and their Recording Lab, “What’ll You Do” is a slice of peppy early jazz with a nice little vocal chorus by Hal White and some terrific brass interplay. White was a ubiquitous pop jazz singer during those years, appearing on many Johnny Hamp sides, other bands’ recordings and leading his own groups. I am pretty sure, if my memory serves me at all, that this tune appeared in a Looney Tunes cartoon from back in the day, but I can’t find any proof so far…

 

 

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Trombonist Albert Wynne and his Creole Jazz Band recorded this wonderful jazz stomp in 1928 and I would say it’s a New Orleans classic, but it was recorded in Chicago! Wynne and the band were based in Chicago for their whole career, although they toured all of America and Europe. But no matter, this is indeed a very NOLA sound, for all time probably, and especially back then.

Features the little-known New Orleans hero, Punch Miller, on trumpet and scat singing solo. Although little-known in the wider world of jazz, he is a cult favorite of jazz 78s collectors. R. Crumb the comic artist and famous 78rpm record collector adored Miller’s many sides and even paid tribute to him by painting his portrait for one of his 36 Early Jazz Greats, a set of trading cards.

 

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Getting his start playing clarinet in Glenn Miller’s big band in 1921, Boyd Senter eventually moved to Chicago in 1923 and managed to make several recordings with Jelly Roll Morton’s Steamboat Four. Soon thereafter he struck out alone as the “Jazzologist Supreme” (sometimes with his band, the Senterpedes) and recorded a string of sides for various labels in the 20s and 30s, all in the hot jazz/New Orleans idiom that was the rage during those decades. Sometimes the playfulness of his approach, especially the “laughing” or “whining” phrasing that became a signature of his clarinet style, was criticized by some as gimmicky, but he sold a lot of sides and was very popular in the public nevertheless.

What makes this 1927 trio take of “Down Hearted Blues” (a Lovie Austin/Alberta Hunter tune) so great is the guitar playing of the iconic Eddie Lang, an innovator who really raised the bar on guitar approach and its place in popular music, and also paved the way for giants like Django, Lonnie Johnson and Wes Montgomery. This performance is just so beautifully toned and nuanced, and to my ears sounds like he was playing from about 15-20 years into the future. Lang’s genius was very unfortunately cut short at 30 years old, a bad surgery in New York in 1933 seeming the culprit. His impact on Jazz cannot be underestimated.

Boyd Senter left music in the late 30s after his popularity waned, became a sporting goods salesman, settled down, and lived into old age, retiring to Oscoda, Michigan, and finally giving up the ghost in 1982 at 84 years old.

This Velvet Tone 7070 is a reissue copy of the original Okeh pressing, matrix no. W81001.

 

 

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Max Miller is a long-forgotten Chicago piano man (and vibraphoneman) from the 1940s and 50s. Virtually everything he ever recorded and released came out in the 50s, and he wasn’t particularly prolific. Besides one album for Columbia in 1951, Piano Moods CL-6175, he released a handful of interesting and adventurous singles on a couple tiny Chicago 78rpm labels: L.I.F.E. and Gold Seal. And those singles sold very few copies, so finding any of his sides is rare. I have four of his L.I.F.E. 78 rpm singles and they all show a musician influenced by the jazz sounds of players like Dizzy Gillespie and Sidney Bechet, and also classical music giants, like Stravinsky and Bartok. He had a long career and played with the likes of Bechet, Coleman Hawkins, Chubby Jackson, and even played vibes with Benny Goodman for a spell.

Miller lived a long, interesting life, and eventually opened up his own music club in 1956, “Max Miller’s Scene”, on the 2100 N. Clark block of Lincoln Park, on the exact site of the 1929 Valentine’s Day Massacre!

“(Jump for Al Benson) Lumbar Ganglion Jump” is a quartet recording from 1950 with his regular band during that time, and boy do they pop out a doozy of jazz jump:

Miller, piano

Earl Backus, guitar

Remo Belli (founder of Remo drum heads), drums

George Stahl, bass

 

 

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Pastora Pavón Cruz, best known as La Niña de Los Peines (“the Girl of the Combs”), was born in Sevilla, Spain in 1890 and is probably the most important flamenco singer of the 20th century. She never learned to read or write, but began singing at 8 years old and was a prodigy. She was already celebrated in her teens and came to be regarded as a genius of many Spanish song-forms, or “palos”, including: tangos, tientos, malagueñas, tarantas, cartageneras, granaínas, peteneras, and the bambera. Cruz has been compared to historical illuminators of music like Bach, and her mark on Spanish cultural history is indelible.

In 2010, UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity; the contribution of La Niña de Los Peines undoubtedly playing a large part in this distinction.

Here she sings an absolutely haunting “saeta”, a revered style of Spanish religious song, here simply titled “Saetas”, and she is joined by cornets, trumpets and a tambourine player. Stark and striking, her voice so thick and impassioned, this kinda of performance slows down time with it’s gravity. This is one of the great songs of all time, and I am lucky to have found an impeccably clean copy.

 

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Born Alexandra Nicholas Badran in 1924, in Mersin, Turkey, to Lebanese parents, she changed her name to Nour el Houda (“Light of Guidance”) just as she was becoming a famous actress and singing star. During her long career, which began at ten years old, El Houda recorded a huge chunk of classical, religious and popular Arabic songs and is considered one of the greatest Lebanese singers. For her tone, intonation, power and control, she was hailed as “the Girl with the Golden Voice” and was a cultural sensation for almost 30 years.

“Ala Oum el Manadili” is mostly a big, insistent groove and melody which eventually open up into a slow, bare, and moody bridge section that allows you to really hear her incredible vocal talent, before taking it back to the top for a fierce finale. Besides the lead voice and backing singers, the instruments I hear are the mijwiz (a reed clarinet), tablah, the buzuq (strings, long-fretted neck and a tone like a viola), and handclaps. The arrangement and the sounds are pretty typical for middle 1950s, popular Arabic recordings.

This is a song on two sides, so I edited them together in Logic Pro.

 

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