Eddie Condon


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Here's a package that defines traditional Chicago-styled jazz from the roots on up. Closely patterned after the style of Bix Beiderbecke, four hot stomps recorded for the OKeh label in December of 1927 form a handsome keystone to the Eddie Condon chronology. It's the Austin High Gang, appearing on record as McKenzie & Condon's Chicagoans, and they swing hard. What a great front line: Frank Teschemacher, Jimmy McPartland, and Bud Freeman. Gene Krupa kicks like a mule. Legend has it Mezz Mezzrow played cymbals, although Condon claimed all Mezz did was hold on to the bass drum so Krupa wouldn't knock it across the room. In July of 1928, Condon, Krupa, and Tesch made a pair of records with pianist Joe Sullivan. "Oh Baby (Rain or Shine)" begins with a group scat vocal and cooks to a gravy. Teschemacher plays both clarinet and alto sax on this date. Shortly before his death in 1973, a mature Eddie Condon made this wry statement regarding both "Indiana," recorded for Parlophone on July 28, 1928, and the art of singing in general: "This record paid the rent at the Cumberland Hotel for one month; for all four guys in the band. I sing here. I was young and didn't know any better. I do now." Condon also sang on "I'm Sorry I Made You Cry," chirping the lyrics over Art Miller's delightful bowed bass. These innocent vocals are endearing and do not detract in any way from the musical entertainment. "Makin' Friends" has a vocal by Texas trombonist Jack Teagarden with whiny spoken interjections by Mezz Mezzrow. Was this the inspiration for Nappy Lamare's incessant chattering on Wingy Manone's records of the mid-'30s? Alarming thought. Great insights into the socioeconomic reality of jazz musicians can be found in Condon's autobiography, We Called It Music. It is there that Condon claims that the Victor session of February 8, 1929, was considered an "experiment" in racially mixed recording, possibly the first integrated date for a major label. The next "experiment" that Condon would put together for Victor was the notorious "Fats Waller & His Buddies" adventure, another racially mixed session that came together haphazardly one month later. Those sides appear as part of the Fats Waller chronology on Classics 689. The Condon story continues here on Classics 742 with a series of excellent recordings made for Brunswick in 1933 and Commodore in 1938. What's documented here is the flowering of Condon's career and those of the men who collaborated with him. The Brunswick sides are relatively rare. Here are Max Kaminsky, Pee Wee Russell, Bud Freeman, Floyd O'Brien, Artie Bernstein, Sid Catlett, and the great pianist Alex Hill, who really comes across beautifully. The Commodore material brings on George Brunies, Jess Stacy, Artie Shapiro, George Wettling, and Bobby Hackett, who renders up his famously gorgeous treatment of "Embraceable You." It is fitting that this disc ends with "Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland," an ancient saloon song gassed up into a perfect riot of joyous energy. It is the perfect closer for this cardinal Condon collection.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:09
2 2:45
3 3:06
4 3:02
5 3:00
6 2:58
7 3:10
8 3:02
9 3:39
10 3:33
11 3:02
12 3:06
13 2:58
14 2:54
15 3:22
16 3:10
17 3:04
18 2:48
19 3:15
20 2:41
22 4:03
23 3:08
blue highlight denotes track pick