Eddie Condon


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This is how traditional Chicago-style jazz sounded in New York during the mid-1940s. When he wasn't brusquely emceeing these bands on-stage at Town Hall, guitarist and organizer Eddie Condon presented this music on the air and in the recording studio. The phonographic evidence, chronologically arranged and carefully documented, makes for enjoyable listening. Three V-Disc sides for the armed forces have Hot Lips Page lined up next to Sterling Bose, Miff Mole and Pee Wee Russell. This interesting blend of musicians from radically different social and ethnic backgrounds is typical of Condon. Lips sings on a nearly four-and-a-half-minute version of the "Uncle Sam Blues," a wry ode to military conscription. The old "Tin Roof" is summed up in a mere 126 seconds, followed by a slightly longer "Ballin' the Jack." It seems as though V-Disc encouraged short takes so as to be able to squeeze as many tracks as possible on to their newly devised 'unbreakable' lightweight 12" 78rpm records. The Decca session of December 12, 1944 sounds a lot like the Town Hall mixture of pressure cookers and attractive love songs. Bobby Hackett turns "When Your Lover Has Gone" into a prayer. Lee Wiley (who was Eddie Condon's idea of the Perfect Woman) sings a couple of sweet numbers, and the band kicks the stuffing out of a theme only identified as "Impromptu Ensemble." Here Jack Teagarden blows hot trombone and sings up a parcel of lyrics he first used on a "Chicagoans" session back in 1929. Special mention should be made of baritone saxophonist Ernie Caceres who blows mellow for Lee and very hot during the stomps. Two days later the band emitted 59 seconds of "jump" music and 33 seconds of "blues" for radio broadcast purposes. Lee sang two more ballads and Teagarden hammed up the "Sheik of Araby" with strange new novelty lyrics before they swung it to pieces. Jack also sings and plays handsomely on "Somebody Loves Me." Speaking of melodies composed by George Gershwin, the 1945 sessions include what might be the loveliest version of "My One And Only" ever recorded, starring Bobby Hackett. "Lady Be Good" and "Swanee" take on an almost Dixieland flavor. On March 27, 1946 Wild Bill Davison, Gene Schroeder and Davey Tough incited a grand "Farewell Blues" with the bridge from "Weary Blues" grafted on to its midsection. "Improvisation for the March of Time" was built across the familiar slow blues/fast blues formula, and a couple of very attractive pop songs were magically transformed into honest instrumental jazz before the band knocked off for the day. The session of July 17th, 1946 is memorable for the presence of pianist James P. Johnson, who sends out sparks during "Just You, Just Me," and the voice of John "Bubbles" Sublett, one-time musical cohort of Buck Washington. Sublett is heard singing W.C. Handy's "Atlanta Blues," also known as "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor." That's the great thing about an Eddie Condon date: you never know who's going to show for the gig.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 4:18
2 2:06
3 2:39
4 3:23
5 2:59
6 3:02
7 3:04
8 2:39
9 0:59
10 0:33
11 3:11
12 2:58
13 3:10
14 2:34
15 2:46
16 3:17
17 2:29
18 2:37
19 2:53
20 3:09
21 3:12
22 3:04
23 2:28
24 2:36
25 3:07
26 2:44
blue highlight denotes track pick