1972 MCA Records MCAD-4032 Stereo
Originally released in 1972 as a two LP set on MCA Records MCA2-4032 (Stereo)(FORMERLY DXSE7-210) All selections previously released on the DECCA album old number DXSE7-210 entitled THE BEST OF PETE FOUNTAIN
01. While We Danced At The Mardi Gras
02. A Closer Walk
03. Columbus Stockade Blues
04. Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans
05. Fascination Medley: (a) Fascination; (b) Basin Street Blues; (c) Tin Roof Blues; (d) Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
06. China Boy (Go Sleep )
07. Bye Bye Bill Bailey
08. Lazy River
09. Yes Indeed
10. High Society
11. Stranger On The Shore
12. Over The Waves
13. Oh, Lady Be Good
14. You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You
15. My Blue Heaven
16. Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet
17. For Pete's Sake
18. When The Saints Come Marching In March
19. St. Louis Blues
20. When My Baby Smiles At Me
21. Shrimp Boats
22. Indiana (Back Home Again In Indiana)
Pierre Dewey La Fontaine, Jr., was born in 1930. In due course, needing a more concise name, he became Pete Fountain. His father had played several instruments as an avocation, and he encouraged his son's interest in music. Before he entered his teens, Pete had begun to study clarinet at Johnny Wigg's State Band School of Music. He showed such natural instinct and aptitude for the instrument that in a very short time he was far ahead of the other pupils. He further developed his style and technique in the time-honored jazz fashion by "sitting in" and "jamming" with bands on Bourbon Street. He studied the work of such prominent jazzmen as Eddie Miller, Charlie Tea-garden, Bobby Hackett and Ray Baudac, and most particularly that of his idol, clarinetist Irving Fazola.
His first professional date came when he was 16, when Fazola died. He took Fazola's chair in a French Quarter band, and the blues tribute he blew for his friend and teacher that night was the making of yet another legend.
In 1948, he joined the Junior Dixieland Band, which won a talent contest and toured the United States. His reputation was growing apace, and after playing in Phil Zito's Dixieland Band, he helped form the Basin Street Six in 1950. This combination played in New Orleans and the area around for three years. He next joined the Dukes of Dixieland and went to Chicago for several months, but he returned home when the group set out on a national tour. "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans" is a song with a title of more than ordinary significance for Pete Fountain.
There followed a brief hiatus in his musical career when he joined the "day people" in a 9-to-5 job. This move was made primarily because the musician's life separated him from his wife, Beverly, whom he had married in 1950. Music continued to beckon, however, and after their first child was born he organized a band for an engagement at Dan's Pier 600 on Bourbon Street, where, with the aid of several successful records, his reputation resumed its interrupted expansion.
In the summer of 1956, Pete scored a tremendous success at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, which led to an invitation from Lawrence Welk to make guest appearances on his immensely popular television show. The offer he subsequently accepted for two weeks turned into an engagement lasting two years! The response of home viewers was phenomenal, but eventually the urge to return home and play his own way became too strong.
"I guess champagne and bourbon just don't mix," he said. "Don't get me wrong - Welk is a wonderful man and his TV show did plenty for me. But I just couldn't play the kind of music I wanted to."
Back in New Orleans, he obtained an interest in his friend Dan Levy's Bateau Lounge on the street he loves best - Bourbon Street. Soon he had his own well-appointed and successful club, the French Quarter Inn, and in due course he became the owner of a 35-acre ranch a half-hour from the city.
Happy to live his life in New Orleans, which he leaves somewhat reluctantly for concert and TV appearances, Pete has done much to secure recognition - and an aura of "respectability" - for jazz. It was always supported by the masses, but he succeeded in winning over the city's social, cultural, and business leaders as well. A Pete Fountain Day was proclaimed in New Orleans, and in 1968, the city staged its first full-scale jazz festival. Thanks in large part to Pete Fountain, jazz has truly come home again - and this time to stay.
This collection of recordings, made between 1959 and 1967, illustrates many facets of Pete Fountain's musical personality. As he told writer Burt Korall, he seeks "to combine Fazola's mellow sound with Benny Goodman's drive," and these qualities are evident as he plays in the many different con-texts devised for him by producer Charles Bud Dant.
On half the titles, he is heard as a soloist with a rhythm section that is occasionally supplemented by Godfrey Hirsch's skillful vibes playing. While this affords him maximum freedom, it also charges him with maximum responsibility. Just how adroitly he walks the tightrope between them is happily audible on such classics of the New Orleans repertoire as "When The Saints Come Marching In March," "A Closer Walk," "While We Danced At The. Mardi Gras" and "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans."
Other performances, like "Columbus Stockade Blues" and "St. Louis Blues" find him back in front of a band, and Heinie Beau's arrangement of "Over The Waves," with its knowing use of tuba and four drummers, recreates the sound of the parade bands that are such an integral feature of New Or-leans life. Sy Oliver's famous "Yes Indeed" becomes a neat essay in gospelry as Pete's clarinet is answered by a 14-piece choir. In between an excursion to Nashville for "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You," and to Hamburg for Bert Kaempfert's "For Pete's Sake," there are a whole lot of evergreen jazz standards. And by way of salutes to other clarinetists, there are "Lazy River" (for Sidney Arodin), "When My Baby Smiles At Me" (for Ted Lewis), "High Society" (for Alphonse Picou), and "Stranger On The Shore" -(for Acker Bilk).
THE BEST OF PETE FOUNTAIN is the best of the clarinet, and the best of jazz.