Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lawrence Welk Plays Dixieland - Ranwood Records

Lawrence Welk Plays Dixieland
Featuring Pete Fountain on Clarinet

1981 Ranwood Records Stereo R-8194

Side One
1. China Boy (Go Sleep)
2. Sweethearts On Parade
3. Blue Moods
4. Should I
5. Pete's Tail-Fly
6. San Antonio Rose

Side Two
1. Barnyard Blues
2. When My Sugar Walks Down The Street
3. 's Wonderful
4. Tea 'n Trumpets
5. Thou Swell
6. Strike Up The Band

Originally released 1958 on Coral Records CRL 57146 Mono / CRL 757146 Stereo, currently available on CD Dixieland Lawrence Welk and Pete Fountain - Ranwood Records

A Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Teleklew Productions, Inc.
9034 Sunset Blvd.,
Los Angeles, Ca. 90069
Printed in U.S.A.

Photo of Lawrence Welk by Exley
Illustration by Michael Humphries
Art Direction & Design: Desmond Strobel

Liner Notes:

...Pete Fountain, Nick Fatool, Stan Wrightsman, Phil Stephens, George Van Epps, George Thow, Clyde Hurley, Bill Schaefer, Elmer "Moe" Schneider.... Those are legendary names, a roll-card of the giants of Dixieland jazz, and they're all here on this album which has become a classic of its kind - and the personal favorite of Lawrence Welk.

The incomparable Mr. Fountain, who played clarinet for the Welk band before opening his own jazz club in New Orleans, is backed by equally superlative musicians: Nick Fatool, on drums, often called "the human metronome" by his fellow musicians; Phil "The Chief" Stephens on bass, and Stan Wrightsman on piano. "We used to call Stan the last of the really great two-handed piano players," recalls George Thow, whose jazz trumpet is featured on Side Two in "Tea 'n Trumpets." Thow, who played in the original Dorsey Brothers band, before joining the Welk group, is now on the production staff of the television show, and he regards his fellow players on this album as absolutely tops. "George Van Epps is a master of the guitar, and both Bill Schaefer and "Moe" Schneider are brilliant slide-trombone men - "Moe" played with many of the great Dixieland bands, including Ben Pollack and Bob Crosby. And of course, Clyde Hurley was one of the all-time greats on jazz trumpet. He was featured with the famed Glenn Miller band for years."

They're all stars, and they prove it from the opening track of "China Boy" - which Fountain wraps up and takes home with his awe-inspiring smooth and velvety phrasing - to the all-out closer when everybody cuts loose on "Strike Up The Band". This is a record that explodes with an exciting, irresistible, driving, purely joyous Dixieland beat that makes you want to grab a horn and join in!

Lawrence Welk loves it. It's the first record he plays for visitors to his office, and when the strains of "China Boy" - his particular favorite - fill the room, Lawrence is, as he says, in heaven. His eyes sparkle, his toes tap, he beams widely as he bounces around in his chair, totally unable to sit still. "I've always loved this kind of music," he explains. "When the boys and I played the big cities during the Big Band years, I'd head for the local jazz clubs as soon as we had finished our show for the evening. And there I'd be till two, three or four o'clock in the morning. However, I recognized a long time ago that we jazz lovers are somewhat in the minority, and if my band and I wanted to eat, then we'd better play the music most people like! So you might say that all these years I've been playing popular music for my tummy - and Dixieland for my soul."

If that's the case, then this album is a feast, a "must" for all lovers of this singularly American art form, Dixieland played by those who play it best, for those who love it most.

Bernice McGeehan

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