Various Artists

The Hottest Stuff You Never Heard: A Collection of Very Rare Bands and Tunes

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Swing Time's The Hottest Stuff You Never Heard: A Collection of Very Rare Bands and Tunes is a lot like Yazoo's two-volume Jazz the World Forgot: Early Roots and Branches of Jazz, in fact the Swing Time collection has four tracks in common with Yazoo's Vol.1 and six in common with Vol.2. Whereas Yazoo threw in a sprinkling of titles by well-known early jazz artists Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Bennie Moten, Charlie Johnson, Sam Morgan, and Mamie Smith, Swing Time hands in a selection of choice cuts dating from the years 1924-1932 that are worthy of the phrase "Very Rare." This doesn't mean that the lineup is monolithically obscure; Sam Morgan's Jazz Band is present along with pianist Jesse Stone's Blue Serenaders and cornetist Albert Brunies' Halfway House Orchestra. But most of the rest of these groups may be only faintly recognizable or entirely unfamiliar even to seasoned early jazz lovers. Within the range of this collection, bands active on the West Coast were bass saxophonist Reb Spikes' Los Angeles-based Majors and Minors, and trombonist Jackie Sounders' Orchestra from Seattle. In June 1927 a record of "Sweet Someone" was made somewhere within the Hotel Finlen in Butte Montana by Ernest Loomis' Orchestra, the only identified participant being director Earl Donaldson. "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy (From Dumas)" and "Skirts" were waxed in Minneapolis by pianist Slatz Randall's Orchestra and featured the singing voice of banjoist Joe Roberts. "Shake Your Shimmy" was recorded in Chicago by the Midnight Rounders, an offshoot of the State Street Ramblers involving pianist Jimmy Blythe, bassist Bill Johnson, and singing drummer Cliff Jones. The punningly titled "Postage Stomp" was recorded in Knoxville TN by Maynard Baird's Orchestra, and the "Happy Pal Stomp" in Richmond VA by Roy Johnson's Happy Pals. Like much of the hot music of the '20s, a number of these performances took place in and around New York City. There are two titles by violinist Paul Tremaine & His Aristocrats; a dandy take of Paul Dresser's "My Gal Sal" tossed off by banjo, guitar, and ukulele scrubber Frank Winnegar's Penn Boys, and a pair of Victor recordings by violinist Tal Henry and His Orchestra, with a vocal duet on "Found My Gal" by reedman Walter Fellmen and banjoist Ivan Morris. "Dixie" was recorded in 1932 by drummer Ben "Snooks" Friedman and His Memphis Stompers with a vocal by Oscar Grogan. "Hot and Heavy" is credited to Ben Tobier and His California Cyclones, a New Jersey-based unit led by percussionist Lou Tobin. "Oh How I Love My Darling" was sung by Irving Kaufman with accompaniment by the Ambassadors, a feisty combination that included Phil Napoleon, Miff Mole, Jack Pettis, Joe Tarto, and Frank Signorelli. The Seven Blue Babies were essentially the backing band for Irving's brother Jack Kaufman, who is heard singing "Give Your Baby Lots of Lovin'." The Seven Blue Babies made records for Edison in 1928-1929, usually working up novelty tunes with titles like "I'm Wild About Horns on Automobiles," "Please Don't Cut Out My Sauerkraut," "The Whoopee Hat Brigade," "I'm Cuckoo Again," and "What's the Color of a Yellow Horse?" Listening to bands that are this obscure can be enormously satisfying, especially if one is willing and able to plumb deeper fathoms of obscurity by identifying little-known individuals like Phil Baxter's tenor saxophonist Thurmond Rotroff and Maynard Baird's tuba tamer Ebb Grubb.

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