Jack Teagarden

Big T [Proper]

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In 2005 the Proper label came out with Big T, a chronologically presented four-CD set packed with 92 recordings dating from 1928-1953, involving Texas-born trombonist and vocalist Weldon Leo Jack Teagarden (1905-1964). While other labels have gone to the trouble of assembling more meticulous and thorough editions, Proper's approach is to illuminate a healthy range of selected examples from various segments of his recording career. Note that ASV/Living Era did something similar with their more compact double-disc edition, entitled Big T: A Hundred Years from Today. Teagarden's Properbox opens with a series of well-chosen examples from his activity as a sideman in New York during the late '20s. He is heard with bands led by Roger Wolfe Kahn, Ben Pollack, Eddie Condon, Louis Armstrong, and Red Nichols, as well as the Louisiana Rhythm Kings, the Mound City Blue Blowers, and the expanded nine-piece edition of Fats Waller & His Buddies. Teagarden's first recording sessions as a leader took place in 1930. A few of those early efforts are nestled in with examples of his work with an orchestra under the leadership of violinist Joe Venuti and guitarist Eddie Lang, and with Irving Mills & His Hotsy Totsy Gang, a ten-piece ensemble that included cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. Judging from the evidence included in this anthology, the contract that kept Teagarden roped in as a member of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra during the years 1933-1939 does not appear to have been all that exclusive or difficult to break, for during that period he was able to record as leader of his own orchestra, and with groups led by Condon, Frankie Trumbauer, Adrian Rollini, and Benny Goodman, who featured young Billie Holiday on "Riffin' the Scotch." Teagarden's resurgence of complete autonomy is represented by his recordings with the Metronome All-Star Band, the Capitol Jazzmen, Bud Freeman's Famous Chicagoans, Eddie Condon's Orchestra, Teagarden's own Big Eight, and his increasingly popular big band. In 1947, Big T became a primary member of Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars, and much of the closing portion of this compilation is filled with examples of that very traditional group's work, in the studio and in live performance at Symphony Hall in Boston, at Town Hall in New York, and at the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena. The fourth disc ends with three recordings made by Teagarden's Sextet in November of 1953, with his brother Charlie blowing trumpet and their sister Norma Teagarden at the piano. Although Proper has only scratched the surface, this weighty retrospective is a wonderful way to get to know one of the most endearing and accomplished personalities in all of traditional jazz.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:24
2 2:52
3 3:05
4 2:38
5 3:37
6 3:30
7 3:16
8 3:34
9 2:38
10 3:13
11 3:06
12 3:20
13 3:09
14 2:44
15 2:39
16 2:29
17 3:09
18 2:26
19 2:49
20 3:06
21 3:11
22 3:22
23 3:02
24 3:00
25 3:13

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:26
2 3:02
3 3:08
4 2:31
5 3:06
6 3:17
7 2:44
8 2:22
9 2:56
10 4:03
11 3:08
12 3:05
13 4:34
14
3:21
15
3:02
16 3:15
17 2:48
18 2:57
19 2:30
20 4:13
21 3:54
22 3:13
23 3:15

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 4:30
2 3:38
3 3:03
4 3:14
5 3:01
6 2:44
7 3:17
8 2:35
9 3:20
10 4:14
11 5:02
12 2:22
13 5:18
14 3:54
15 3:31
16 2:49
17 5:42
18 3:01
19 3:30
20 2:45
21 3:04
22 2:51
blue highlight denotes track pick