Joe Haymes


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The International Association of Jazz Record Collectors has a healthy habit of bringing out strange packages of obscure material virtually unknown even to dedicated jazz historians and eccentric collectors of all-but-forgotten wax. Twenty-three "never reissued recordings" by Joe Haymes and his orchestra are a good example of the IAJRC label's penchant for oddly wonderful relics. This collection was intended to augment a long-gone Bluebird double-LP reissue, one aircheck album, and another volume of Haymes on IAJRC. Haymes, a native of Missouri, worked on a circus trapeze and later as arranger for the Ted Weems & His Orchestra before putting together his own band and beginning to make records during the early '30s. These appeared under a number of pseudonyms, including the often purloined name of the California Ramblers. Haymes' bands had a way of ending up working for other people -- first Charles "Buddy" Rogers (billed for a while as "America's Boyfriend"), then in 1935 Tommy Dorsey's first band. Bailing out of bandleading altogether in 1939, Haymes spent his last quarter of a century writing arrangements for people like Lawrence Welk. During its best years, the Haymes orchestra was staffed with many fine jazz players. Audible on this collection are trumpeters Pee Wee Erwin and Sterling Bose, reedmen Bud Freeman, John Van Eps, and Johnny Mince, and Rex Stewart's good friend and collaborator, guitarist Brick Fleagle. The Haymes band seems to have served as a sort of variety show, relying heavily upon pop novelties with funny lyrics. "Get Cannibal," a somewhat racist product of early 20th century anthropological ignorance as typified in the Tarzan novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs, is weirdly entertaining with the band emitting falsetto ululations at regular intervals. The liner notes declare this 1932 recording to be "in much better taste" than the more common version, but one can only imagine what Margaret Mead would have thought. Some of these routines are reminiscent of Willie Bryant, and the band performs splendidly throughout. The overall effect is pleasant enough, and a handful of instrumentals are exceptionally rewarding. "Goblin Market" and "Lost Motion" are outstanding examples of Haymes' unusual approach to arranging. "St. Louis Blues," "That's a Plenty" and "Sister Kate" are superbly rendered old-time melodies, swung to perfection.