Here's a taste of what the jazz scene was like in San Antonio, Texas during the mid-'30s. Clifford "Boots" Douglas (born in Temple, Texas September 7, 1908) led his 12- piece band from behind the drums, playing for dancers and leaving behind a trail of tasty Bluebird 78 rpm recordings. This is the second of two volumes containing all of this band's known works. The instrumentalists are barely remembered nowadays, even such powerful participants as trumpeter L.D. Harris, an extraordinary tenor man named Baker Millian, and an alto player with the unenviable nickname "Wee Wee." Boots became increasingly peculiar in his choice of altered and abbreviated song titles. His sense of humor welled up as "Somebody Loves Me" became "The Somebody;" "Sometimes I'm Happy" appeared as "The Happy," and "Willow Weep for Me" turned into "The Weep." It's surprising he didn't make "Ain't Misbehavin'" into "The Misbehave." This band could swing hard -- they really rock during "The Raggle Taggle." There are occasional slow ballads with crooners attached, but most of the material is hot, big-band dance music from the mid-'30s. New York had Duke Ellington, Basie was in Chicago fresh up from Kansas City, and meanwhile, all across the continental United States, there were dozens of small-time big bands trying to make a living by entertaining the public with jazz designed for dancing. Fortunately Boots and his Buddies were able to record more than 40 sides for posterity. Thanks to the producers of the Classics reissue series, interested parties may absorb all of these in chronological sequence. For best results, get both volumes.
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