1. Mahogany Hall Stomp
2. Tin Roof Blues
3. My Inspiration
4. Bye-Bye, Bill Bailey
3. High Society
8. Struttin' With Some Barbecue
7. Dixie Jubilee
8. South Rampart Street Parade
9. Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet
10. The Second Line
11. Basin Street Blues
12. The Darktown Strutters' Ball
13. Marching 'Round the Mountain
14. Over the Waves
15. Careless Love
18. Walking Through New Orleans
17. Sugar Bowl Parade
18. Farewell Blues
18. Washington and Lee Swing
20. Walking Through New Orleans
Pete Fountain (clarinet) with His Mardi Gras Strutters, the Basin Street Six, Santo Pecora and his Dixie-land Jazz Band, and others (collective personnel): Jackie Coon, George Girard, Charlie Teagarden (trumpet); Santo Pecora (trombone); Lew McCreary, Dick Noel, Joe Rotis, Bill Schaefer, Moe Schneider (trombone); George Roberts (bass trombone); Eddie Miller (tenor saxophone); Armand Hug, John Propst, Stan Wrightsman, Roy Zimmerman (piano); Bobby Gibbons (guitar, banjo); Phil Stephens (tuba); Morty Corb, Bunny Franks, John Sinac (bass); Paul Barbarin, Charlie Duke, Nick Fatool, Godfrey Hirsch, Jack Sperling (drums, percussion); Bud Dant (arranger, conductor); Don Bagley, Heinie Beau, Matty Matlock (arranger); and others. Recorded June 1950-July 1968 in Chicago, Hollywood, and New Orleans Liner Notes:
Original recordings produced by Bud Dant, Norman Granz, and others.
"I call my music 'swinging Dixie," says Pete Fountain, by which he means that it combines the best aspects of the two kinds of clarinet playing he heard growing up in New Orleans: the swing kings (especially Benny Goodman) he caught on the radio, and the local legends of traditional jazz he heard right on his doorstep in the French Quarter.
Thanks to television exposure on The Lawrence Welk Show, Fountain became one of the best-known musicians in the world, cementing his popularity with a remarkable string of albums that not only combined swing and Dixieland, but elements of pop and country as well. Personally selected by Fountain himself, this collection features the best of his hard-core jazz recordings, from his earliest bands on Bourbon Street to his chart hits.
Other kids may have wanted to be Joe DiMaggio or Roy Rogers, but I wanted to be Benny Goodman. Of course, I had an advantage over aspiring young musicians in other cities - we could all listen to Benny and all those wonderful swing bands on the radio in those days, but since I was from New Orleans (where I was born in 1930), all I had to do was walk out into the street to hear the greatest jazz that ever was. I remember hanging around the Top Hat Dance Hall and listening to musicians like Sharkey Bonano, Raymond Burke, and the Prima Brothers, Leon and Louis. All I had to do was go to the corner and turn right and it unfolded before me like the Yellow Brick Road - my private path to happiness, to the Top Hat on Broad Street, just a close walk from the French Quarter.
That's why I got so interested in jazz when I was a kid. I used to hear so much around my neighbor-hood. I had been a sickly child, and the doctor thought that playing a wind instrument would help build up my lungs. I practiced until the neighbors threatened to move out, especially after I got my first hearing of Irving Fazola, a local clarinet legend who became famous with Bob Crosby's orchestra. Faz became my second idol.
I was on the path to becoming a musician then, though neither my family nor I had any idea how long it would take. Five years later, I was ready to play in a high school band. High schools in New Orleans recruit musicians the way colleges in other areas go after star quarterbacks. Two schools made me offers, and one was much closer, but when the director at Warren Easton High told me that I had a "fat" sound - the same way we used to describe Fazola's playing - I decided on the Warren Easton marching band. And I kept going down to Bourbon Street to soak up as much music as I could every night.
My first paying job was with the Broad Street Social and Pleasure Club - all of five dollars for four hours of work! I first met Freddie and Frank Assunto (who later formed the Dukes of Dixieland) when the three of us would sneak into football games by claiming we were the visiting team's band. When I was sixteen, we formed our first band, the Basin Street Four, which we later changed to the Junior Dixie Band at the suggestion of the owners of the Parisian Room, who let us sit in. We even played on national radio when the club broadcast its jam sessions, and one of the first gigs we actually played as a unit wasn't for the general public but for a roomful of professional musicians who had mounted a party of their own. We played and practiced and eventually won a touring radio talent show hosted by Horace Heidt, the bandleader. We worked remote spots on the edge of town, any place that they would let us play.
When I was a high school senior, my history teacher asked me why I didn't study more. I answered that I was too busy playing clarinet every night, and when I told him I was making scale - about $125 a week - he said that was more than he made and I should play full time. I guess I was a professional from that point on.
The first real name bands to hire me were Santo Pecora and his Dixieland jazz band, with whom I made my first recordings (done for Norman Granz in 1950), and Phil Zito's International New Orleans Dixielanders, in which I worked with the brilliant, short-lived trumpeter George Girard. George and I formed our own band not long after that, the Basin Street Six. We clowned around a lot with that group, but most of the time we played good music. At one point we were hired to play on a luxury liner bringing jazz to Honduras, and we recorded for Mercury. However, I hit a kind of personal slump in the mid-Fifties.
We couldn't find enough work to keep the band together, and to make matters worse, my good buddy George died of colon cancer at the age of twenty-six. By now I had a wife and three kids to support, so I went to work for my buddies the Dukes of Dixieland in Chicago; however, I got lonesome for my family and was drinking too much, so I came home. To make ends meet I quit music as a full-time occupation and took a series of day jobs, all of which were total disasters.
But I knew it was only a matter of time before I got into playing again. My real "comeback" gig was at Dan Levy's Pier 600, in a band co-led by Al Hirt and myself that slowly began to attract attention. When we first started, there was no one in the joint, but after a few months we had become the hot band to hear in New Orleans. And it was at the 600 in 1957 when I got the break of my life: Lawrence Welk, whose variety show was the top-rated television program at that time, somehow heard of me and offered to make me part of his organization. For two years I was a featured player, with a regular solo spot on his series and at his in-person appearances. l'll always be grateful for what Mr. Welk did for me - making me one of the most famous musicians in the country - but the gig itself drove me nuts, because it wasn't my kind of setting and it wasn't my kind of music. Champagne and Jack Daniel's don't mix.
The exposure I got on the Welk show allowed me to do two things. The first was to start my own series of albums for Coral Records, which was then Mr. Welk's label. Fortunately, I wound up in the more than capable hands of Bud Dant. Bud was more than my producer and more than my arranger, he was my mentor in the studio: Together we picked concepts, tunes, and musicians, and he guided me through several dozen of the most wonderful albums any jazzman was ever privileged to be involved with. The first two, Pete Fountain's New Orleans and The Blues, to my surprise, became two of the biggest selling instrumental albums of the early Sixties. After that, they had me in the studio all the time! One of my favorite albums was South Rampart Street Parade, from 1963, in which we replicated, in Los Angeles, the sound and feeling of carnival in my hometown, using an unusual ensemble of brass and rhythm including four drummers playing at once, parade style. I also enjoyed a series of sessions I did with my lifelong friend, vibist and pianist Godfrey Hirsch. Vibes were not standard equipment in New Orleans-style jazz units, and Godfrey gave the dates a Benny Goodman swing-style feeling, which I liked. I recorded everything from songs by the Beatles to "I Love Paris". I've been very lucky.
The second thing I was able to do after leaving the Welk show was to open my own club, Pete Fountain's French Quarter Inn, which has been running continuously for over forty years. When we moved the club to the New Orleans Hilton in 1974, I was forty-four, and my feeling was that I would only keep playing until I was around fifty. I had made enough money by then so that I could retire. But you know what? I just turned seventy and I still can't imagine giving up the music that I love.
- Pete Fountain with Will Friedwald September 2000
Pete Fountain is probably the best known clarinetist, and certainly one of the best known traditional jazz musicians, of the last fifty years. With the exception of two years when he served as featured soloist on The Lawrence Welk Show, he has resided in New Orleans his entire life, where he continues to operate and serve as the primary attraction at Pete Fountain's French Quarter inn at the New Orleans Hilton. He has recorded nearly 100 albums, including many national best-sellers.
Pete Fountain plays clarinet on all tracks, accompanied by:
1. Mahogany Hall Stomp (Spencer Williams) 2:52
Santo and his Dixie-land Jazz Band: George Girard (trumpet); Santo Pecora (trombone, drums); Armand Hug (piano); John Sinac (bass).
Recorded June 1950 in New Orleans
Original 78-rpm issue: Clef 8925
2. Tin Roof Blues (Paul Mares-Ben Pollack-Mel Stitzel) 3:07
Basin Street Six: George Girard (trumpet); Joe Rotis (trombone); Roy Zimmerman (piano); Bunny Franks (bass); Charlie Duke (drums).
Recorded September 19, 1951 in Chicago
Original-LP issue: Strictly Dixie Mercury MG 20151
3. My Inspiration (Bob Haggart-Nappy Lamare) 2:50
Basin Street Six: personnel unknown, possibly including: George Girard (trumpet); Joe Rotis (trombone); Roy Zimmerman (piano); Bunny Franks (bass); Charlie Dunlop (drums)
Recorded probably circa 1954
Original LP-issue: Strictly Dixie Mercury MG 20151
4. Bye-Bye, Bill Bailey (Charles "Bud" Dant-Pete Fountain) 2:39
5. High Society (A. J. Piron-Clarence Williams) 2:25
6. Struttin' With Some Barbecue (Lil Hardin Armstrong) 2:24
7. Dixie Jubilee (Pete Fountain-Charles "Bud" Dant) 2:29
Charlie Teagarden (trumpet); Moe Schneider (trombone); Eddie Miller (tenor saxophone); Stan Wrightsman (piano); Bobby Gibbons (guitar); Morty Corb (bass); Jack Sperling (drums).
Recorded November 9, 1961 in Hollywood
Original-LP issue: Pete Fountain's Music From Dixie Coral CRL 757401
8. South Rampart Street Parade (Ray Bauduc-Bob Haggart) 2:05
9. Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet (Percy Weinrich-Stanley Murphy) 2:55
10. The Second Line (Paul Barbarin) 2:29
11. Basin Street Blues (Spencer Williams) 3:02
12. The Darktown Strutters' Ball (Shelton Brooks) 2:24
13. Marching 'Round the Mountain (Pete Fountain-Charles "Bud" Dant) 2:46
14. Over the Waves (traditional) 2:35
15. Careless Love (traditional, credited to W. C. Handy-Spencer Williams) 2:52
16. Walking Through New Orleans (Charles "Bud" Dant-Pete Fountain) 2:46
17. Sugar Bowl Parade (Godfrey Hirsch-Pete Fountain-Richard Drown) 2:07
18. Farewell Blues (Paul Mares-Elmer Schoebel) 2:56
19. Washington and Lee Swing (T. W. Allen-M. W. Scheafe-C. A. Robbins) 1:47
Pete Fountain and His Mardi Gras Strutters:
Jackie Coon (trumpet); Moe Schneider (trombone); Phil Stephens (tuba); Bobby Gibbons (banjo); Morty Corb (bass); Jack Sperling (snare, cymbal, kick drum, percussion); Godfrey Hirsch (marching drum, percussion); Nick Fatool(field drum, percussion); Paul Barbarin (vertical bass drum, percussion);
Bud Dant (conductor).
On track 8: Add Don Bagley (arranger).
On tracks 9, 13, 15, and 18: Add Lew McCreary, Dick Noel, Bill Schaefer (trombone); George Roberts (bass trombone); John Propst (piano).
On tracks 10 and 19: Add Matty Matlock (arranger).
On tracks 11, 12, and 14: Add Heinie Beau (arranger).
On tracks 13, 16, 17, and 18: Add Bud Dant (arranger).
Recorded March 23, 1963 in Hollywood
Original LP-issue: South Rampart Street Parade Coral CRL 757440
20. The Mardi Gras Walking Club 2:45
(Charles "Bud" Dant-Pete Fountain-Lloyd McLaughlin)
Stan Wrightsman (piano); Bobby Gibbons (guitar); Morty Corb (bass); Jack Sperling (drums); unknown vocal group.
Recorded July 16, 1968 in Hollywood
Original-LP issue: Walking Through New Orleans Coral CRL 757503
Original recordings produced by Bud Dant (probably tracks 4-20),
Norman Granz (track 1), and unknown (tracks 2 and 3)
Some of these tracks were transferred from disc sources. Surface noise is audible.