Saturday, October 6, 2007

Pete Fountain and Al Hirt: New Orleans Jazz - GHB Records

Pete Fountain and Al Hirt: New Orleans Jazz

Booklet Below - Notice the two handsome musicians!

2003 GHB Records BCD-115

CD Track Listing:
Pete Fountain's Dixieland All Stars
1. Farewell Blues
2. Jazz Me Blues
3. March Of The Bobcats
4. At The Jazz Band Ball

Al Hirt, trumpet
Pete Fountain, clarinet
Eddie Miller, tenor sax
Abe Lincoln, trombone
Stan Wrightsman, piano
Morty Corb, string bass
Ray Bauduc, drums
Recd: Los Angeles, October 1, 1956

Pete Fountain And His Three Coins
5. Cherry
6. Song Of The Wanderer
7. Home
8. Struttin' With Some Barbecue

Pete Fountain, clarinet & tenor sax
Roy Zimmerman, piano
Phil Darios, string bass
Johnny Edwards, drums
Recd: New Orleans, December 9, 1954

Al Hirt And His New Orleans Jazz Band
9. After You've Gone
10. Over The Waves
11. While We Danced At The Mardi Gras
12. Breeze
13. Toot Toot Toosie Goodbye
14. Careless Love
15. It's A Sin To Tell A Lie
16. Floatin' Down To Cotton Town

Al Hirt, trumpet
Harry Shields, clarinet
Bob Havens, trombone
Roy Zimmerman, piano
Joe Capraro, drums
Phil Darios, string bass
Paul Edwards, drums
Lil Pickens, vocal
Bobby Castigliola, trombone
Rita St. Claire, vocal
Recd: New Orleans, December 29, 1955

Liner Notes:

Pete Fountain and Al Hirt


Despite playing together often, and between them representing the essence of old style New Orleans music to middle America for over a decade, Pete Fountain and Al Hirt only recorded together twice - both times in California!

The first four tracks on this CD were made during a trip the two of them made to the Dixieland Jubilee, and our cover picture was taken on stage during the event.

The titular leader, Peter Dewey Fountain, was born in New Orleans on July 3rd, 1930. He started playing clarinet as a child on doctor's advice, because of respiratory problems. The year after this session, he began a three year stint with The Lawrence Welk Orchestra, before opening his own club in New Orleans in 1959. His clarinet sound is limpid and pure, somewhat reminiscent of Irving Fazola.

Alois Maxwell Hirt, born in New Orleans on November 7th, 1922, spent much of his early career on the road with both Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, before returning to his home town in the late 1940s. From the mid fifties, he seems only to have played Dixieland music. Curiously, he told Downbeat magazine in 1964 that he didn't consider himself a jazz player. His playing demonstrates the complete instrumental control you'd expect from a musician with such extensive early big band experience.

Ray Bauduc, born in New Orleans on June 18th, 1906, is most famous for having held down the drum chair with the hugely successful Bob Crosby Bobcats from 1935 until 1942. He acknowledged the influence of the Crescent City's great black drummers, particularly Baby Dodds.

Another former Bobcat, Edward Raymond Miller, born in New Orleans June, 23rd, 1911, played tenor and clarinet, although he's heard only on saxophone here. For my taste, he supplies many of the best musical moments on the session.

Morty Corb, the bass player, was a Los Angeles session musician. Jazz fans remember him for a session he recorded with the later Kid Ory band, on which he played a bowed solo on "Blues for Jimmy," based on the sextet from the opera "Lucia." Apparently the regular bass player, Ed "Montudi" Garland, had demanded more money, so Ory sent for Corb.

Another L.A. session musician was trombonist Abe Lincoln. Abe appeared on a recording in a band led by Bobby Hackett, featuring two trombones - the other one was Jack Teagarden! George Buck described him as a "monster on the trombone," and I couldn't improve on that.

Harry Shields, born in New Orleans on June 30th, 1899, was of course the brother of the now famous Larry Shields, clarinetist with Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Harry played clarinet with Johnny Wiggs, Sharkey Bonano, and Tom Brown.

During later years, he often appeared at Preservation Hall, sometimes deputizing for George Lewis.

Pianist Roy Zimmerman played on several recordings for Joe Mares' Southland label, and is featured on twelve of the sixteen tracks. Never less than good, he sounds most at ease in the relatively intimate surroundings of the quartet tracks, where he occasionally reveals flashes of the influence of Teddy Wilson.

Bob Havens, the trombonist, was born in Quincy, Illinois, on May 3rd, 1930. Apparently, he passed through New Orleans with a touring band, liked the place, and decided to stay.


No surprises in the repertoire department - all of the tunes on this CD are familiar Dixieland favorites, with the exception of "Floatin' Down To Cotton Town." On the Dixieland All Stars session "Farewell Blues" had been recorded in the twenties by both the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and King Olivers' Dixie Syncopators. This version, starting with a lip busting intro by Abe Lincoln, goes on to feature a surprisingly gentle exchange between Al Hirt playing with Harmon mute, and Eddie Miller. "Jazz Me Blues" and "At the Jazz Band Ball" are mainly associated with the great lyrical cornetist, Bix Beiderbecke, and "March of the Bobcats" (actually the last strain of "Maryland My Maryland") was featured by the Bob Crosby aggregation, so Ray Bauduc and Eddie Miller must have felt right at home. The music on these four tracks is pretty much "in your face" but very well played and executed, and existing.

The four tracks by Pete Fountain on his Three Coins offer a complete contrast. Three of the four are at relaxed medium tempos,and Pete Fountain does "Song of the Wanderer" on tenor saxophone, with surprisingly muscular phrasing; I wish he's done more on saxophone. Roy Zimmerman contributes some nice moments.

With the session under Al Hirt's leadership, we're back in flag waving country, but here are a lot of musical moments. Overall, the band seems to have had the routine of playing a quiet "down" chorus before the out chorus, rather often the fashion of the Kid Ory band. Notice how Hid uses the four bar breaks at the end of his "After You've Gone" solo to modulate from Bb to Eb for the vocal, and how Harry Shields uses his four bar break to modulate back again.

The modulations for the vocals are similarly seamless on several other tracks. "Over the Waves" features a tasteful duet by Al Hirt, again on Harmon mute, and the straight muted Bob Havens. "Careless Love" (my favorite track) is very restrained, goes through several key changes, and has a tasteful guitar solo by Joe Capraro. But every listener will find his (or her) own favorite things to enjoy!

- Mick Burns

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