Friday, August 1, 2014

Unreissued American Music, part 1

Composer, violinist, percussionist, writer, and jazz historian Bill Russell started the American Music label in 1944 to issue the recordings he made of the traditional jazz musicians of New Orleans.  Between that year and 1953, Russell issued 40 78s (including seven 12-inchers) and 13 10" LPs of the music he recorded.  After that, the label was more or less dormant for years, although Russell would occasionally license some of the material for issue in Japan or Europe.

Eventually, the American Music catalog was bought by the Jazzology group, and Russell lived to oversee the first few AM CD reissues.  By now the CD series has expanded to the extent that almost all of Russell's American Music recordings are available on CD, including many alternate takes and previously unissued items.  But for a variety of reasons, there are a few of the original 78s that were never reissued on LP or CD.  I'll present them all here, starting with one side of AM 535, "Eh, La-Bas!" by the Original Creole Stompers.

The Stompers consisted of Herb Morand on trumpet, Louis Nelson on trombone, the searing clarinet of Albert Burbank, veteran guitarist Johnny St. Cyr, Austin Young on bass, and Albert Jiles on drums.  They were recorded by Russell at Burbank's home on Lapeyrouse Street in New Orleans on the evening of July 13, 1949.  Russell issued two 78s from the session; eventually almost the entire session was issued on CD, including four tunes from a rehearsal session the night before.  Barry Martyn, who produced the CD, opted to use the rehearsal take of "Eh, La-Bas!" instead of the originally issued take.  That rehearsal take has its own charm - it's slower, more relaxed, and two minutes longer than the 78 take.  But Burbank's clarinet is seemingly on fire on the originally-issued take, and it's a shame to let this fine music languish unheard.  So here's one side of American Music 535, featuring the clarinet and Creole vocal of Albert Burbank.

Eh, La Bas!

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