Walter Gerwig – Lute Suites Nr. 3 G-Minor BMV 995 (Bach) (1954)

UKFrontCover1A pioneer of the early music revival One of the pioneers of the early music revival, the guitarist and lutenist Walter Gerwig was born in Frankfurt an der Oder on 26 November He left school at the age of twelve and was conscripted into the German army as soon as war broke out in Not until 1919 did he return from the Baltic, when he began an apprenticeship with a violin-maker in Hamburg, later studying singing and various aspects of music theory. He was initially self-taught as a guitarist. It was the musicologist and lutenist Hans Dagobert Bruger who, as the recent recipient of a doctorate, introduced Gerwig to the Renaissance lute at an exhibition of musical instruments in Berlin in around Bruger, who was a few years older than Gerwig, was particularly interested in rediscovering lute music. In 1921 he had published the first complete edition of Johann Sebastian Bach s works for the instrument, which he had transcribed for the modern lute. (The modern lute was not the Baroque lute familiar to Bach, its strings arranged in courses of two strings each, but the single-course guitar with an additional set of bass strings.) Gerwig later used Bruger s edition for his Bach recording (CD 3). Gerwig was inspired by Bruger to take up the Renaissance lute and to develop a performing technique whose starting point was melody rather than the instrument s ability to play chords, an ability familiar from its traditional use in accompanying songs, especially among members of the German Youth Movement for whom the guitar was the privileged instrument.


In 1952, in an Open Letter to Lute Players, Gerwig wrote: When we oldies began to play, there was no one to tell us not to start with four-part chords but as with any other instrument to start by cultivating monophonic playing. No one explained to us the fixed technical and musical rules that must be applied as a matter of course if we were to make the playing sound like singing. Gerwig moved to Berlin in 1924 and found himself at the centre of the lute renaissance. Two years earlier Helmuth Osthoff had completed his doctorate under the title of The Lutenist Santino Garsi da Parma: A Contribution to the History of Upper Italian Lute Music at the End of the Late Renaissance. And in 1926 Georg Sparmann published his inaugural dissertation, Esaias Reusner and the Lute Suite. The following year in Berlin, Hans Neemann published a contemporary anonymous abridged arrangement of a Haydn string quartet for lute, violin and viola da gamba. It was presumably Sparmann who in 1928 encouraged Gerwig to publish five suites from Reusner s Neue Lauten-Früchte. In 1950 Gerwig used Neemann s edition of the Haydn trio to record this particular work , and in 1952 he used his own edition of a suite by Reusner , following this up in 1953 with a recording of works by Garsi da Parma based on Osthoff s transcriptions of these pieces .

The Lauten Collegium (Walter Gerwig, Eva-Juliane Gerstein und Johannes Koch), 1953:

Throughout this period instrument-makers, too, made an important contribution to the rediscovery of the lute, for it was in the 1920s that the first doublecourse lutes were built based on historical models. One instrument-builder active in this field was Hans Jordan, a number of whose replicas of Renaissance lutes Gerwig later used in his recordings of 18th-century music as well as of the earlier period. In 1925 Fritz Jöde appointed Gerwig lute teacher and chorus master at his newly founded Music School in Berlin. By 1935 Gerwig was running the school. Here Gerwig was able to impart to his pupils an idea of the vast richness of this music one music teacher reported enthusiastically on a course that Gerwig held on the East Frisian island of Juist in the North Sea: In July 1926 Walter Gerwig (of the Music School in Charlottenburg) introduced us to some wonderful old lute music by Neusidler, Judenkünig, Schlick and also Bach, of whom we were even able to hear a fugue for the lute. After 1928 Gerwig also taught the instrument at the State Academy for Church Music and School Music in Berlin. In 1939 he was again called up but within a year was exempted from all further active service in order for him to focus on teaching and entertaining the troops. In 1943 the Reich Radio sent him to St. Florian in Linz, a priory closely associated with Bruckner. Together with the viola d amore player Emil Seiler, the recorder player Thea von Sparr and a number of other musicians, he was to establish an ensemble for Baroque music that made chamber music recordings for a variety of broadcasters and also gave concerts in honour of young artists who have fallen in battle and at services in the priory. After the Second World War Gerwig settled in Hamburg, giving solo recitals in Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, England and Switzerland, and performing in concert with Eva-Juliane Gerstein (soprano) and Johannes Koch (viola da gamba and recorder), the two musicians who also appeared in his Lauten-Collegium.


Between 1946 and 1949 the Lauten-Collegium alone gave more than 300 concerts. The performers travelled in a jeep that they had jointly acquired. Their preferred fee in these times of rationing and austerity was petrol. Among Gerwig s fellow chamber recitalists were a number of leading proponents of the early music movement, including the gambist August Wenzinger (CD 1), but he also made numerous gramophone recordings, as well as taking part in countless radio and television broadcasts at this time. It was not least as a result of these recordings that Gerwig became known and admired as an influential lutenist and as a leading artistic authority on the lute, his reputation extending far beyond the borders of his native Germany. In 1952 Walter Gerwig was invited to teach the lute at the Cologne Academy of Music, where he was also responsible for a course on the performing practice of early music. As such, he was the only German lutenist active at any of the country s music academies during the 1950s. His most famous pupils include Eike Funck, Jürgen Hübscher, Dieter Kirsch, Michael Schäffer, who took over Gerwig s lute class after his death in 1966, and, above all, Eugen Dombois, who in 1962 established a lute class at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where he continued to teach until Among the alumni of Dombois s class are Paul O Dette, Toyohiko Satoh and Hopkinson Smith, all three of whom are still active and widely considered to be among the most important lutenists currently appearing on the world s stages. Gerwig was held in high esteem by his pupils. Dieter Kirsch, who for many years was the principal of the Würzburg Academy of Music, recalls: His language, which grew correspondingly rich in imagery whenever he needed to clarify musical processes; his wealth of ideas whenever he had to find succinct examples to illustrate technical problems; and his ever-present superiority whenever he picked up his instrument in order to demonstrate his ideas on music left such a lively impression that all who think of him as a person are also bound to think not only of the picture of a creative individual and sensitive artist but also of an exemplary teacher. Eike Funck reports something very similar. She set up the first course in the performing practice of early music as a lecturer in early music at the Hamburg Academy of Music:


An essential hallmark of his teaching was a language that was rich in imagery and that he used to explain musical processes. For example, he would demonstrate how a musical phrase should end by reference to a bird coming in to land, breaking its landing by stretching out its wings and coming to rest softly on the ground an admirable image for the purposeful shaping of a melodic line with an unaccented final note. Improvisation was a recurrent theme in all his lessons, not just in continuo playing. In this regard he proved to be unusually witty: the exercises that he devised on the train from Bonn to Cologne and that became harder with each passing week turned out to be highly Romantic harmonizations of simple nursery songs, producing a guessing game that brought cheer to the hearts and minds of the students who were struggling to master difficult chords. The period of Gerwig s teaching activities in Cologne in the 1950s also coincided with the reconstruction and dissemination of early music, especially through the medium of gramophone recordings. Deutsche Grammophon had launched its Archiv- Produktion label in 1947 in order to promote early music. Two years later Gerwig recorded Bach s Lute Suite BWV 995 for the label, a pioneering feat in every way. In order to appreciate the achievement that this recording represents, we need only to recall that it was not until 1946 that the first complete recording of one of Bach s five multi-movement works for the lute had been released, when Wanda Landowska s harpsichord recording of the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro BWV 998 had appeared. Previously, it was above all guitarists who had availed themselves of Bach s works for solo violin and cello and recorded arrangements of individual movements from them. Gerwig remained without any imitators for many years, for no other lutenist during the 1950s was prepared to risk making a recording of a complete Bach suite. Not until 1964 did an LP devoted exclusively to lute works by Bach first appear on the international market: it was by Gerwig. The following year he received the German Record Critics Award for another recording of Baroque music for the lute. Gerwig s standing among professional circles is clear not least from the fact that his entry in the encyclopaedic Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart the Bible of musicologists at that time had nothing but praise for him: In Germany, Walter Gerwig has raised the lute from its relatively theoretical and amateur beginnings and thanks to his artistic mastery granted it a place among concert instruments. He must take considerable credit for the rediscovery and dissemination of the lute and of its music, especially through his numerous gramophone recordings. Devoted to Walter Gerwig, the present anthology offers a small insight into the great legacy of this pioneer of e arly music. (Jörg Jewanski)


Walter Gerwig (lute)

The German edition:

01. Präludium 6.53
02. Allemande 5.34
03. Courante 2.36
04. Sarabande 3.18
05. Gavotte 5.40
06. Gigue 1.46



Charlie Ventura – A Charlie Ventura Concert (1953)

FrontCover1.jpgA fine swing-oriented tenor saxophonist, Ventura is best-remembered for his attempt at popularizing bebop during the tail end of the music’s mid- to late-’40s heyday. Born Charles Venturo, he came from a large, musically inclined family. His first instrument was C-melody sax. He switched to alto before eventually settling on tenor. Ventura left his day job at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1942 to join Gene Krupa’s band. He became a featured soloist with Krupa, playing with the drummer from 1942-1943 and 1944-1946 (working in the interim with guitarist/bandleader Teddy Powell). Ventura achieved considerable popularity while with Krupa, winning a Down Beat magazine award as best tenor saxophonist in 1945. He started his own big band in 1946 with middling results. He had more success fronting a small band, one version of which included trumpeter Conte Candoli, trombonist Bennie Green, alto saxophonist Boots Mussulli, drummer Ed Shaughnessy, and vocalists Jackie Cain and Roy Kral. Ventura recorded for small labels before getting signed to RCA Victor, which at the time wanted to capitalize on the emergence of bebop.


An RCA executive purportedly told him that they wanted the word “bop” in the band’s name. Ventura came up with the phrase “Bop for the People,” which implied an accessible form of the music. Ventura formed a big band in 1948, but soon cut it down to eight members, retaining Cain and Kral, who were crucial components of the band’s sound. The Bop for the People band worked through 1949 (during which time Ventura employed modern jazz’s greatest saxophonist, Charlie Parker, on a record date), but in the end Ventura’s stab at making a commercial success of bop failed. Indeed, as fine a player as he was, Ventura himself was never really a bopper. During the early ’50s Ventura led another big band; formed a highly acclaimed group called the Big Four with bassist Chubby Jackson, drummer Buddy Rich, and pianist Marty Napoleon; briefly ran his own night club in Philadelphia; and also worked again with Cain and Kral. Ventura’s health was not the best, yet he continued to work with Krupa into the ’60s. After the ’50s, Ventura recorded commercially only once (in 1977, with pianist John Bunch for the Famous Door label). Still, he remained active. He worked in Las Vegas (with comedian Jackie Gleason), and fronted various groups in the ’70s and ’80s, before dying of lung cancer in 1992. (by Chris Kelsey)


And here´s a splendid jazz set featuring excellent live performance engineering.

This is an outstanding example of live jazz performed by some of the greatest players of the day. The recording quality is little short of miraculous. Gene Norman told Los Angeles-based producer Dick Bank years later that he called RCA because Charlie Ventura was under contract with them, asking if they’d be interested in recording the concert.

They sent technicians plus tape machines. But they didn’t published the result and sold him the tapes for 100$. For this price, he purchased one of the greatest jazz concert ever recorded.  (

Recorded live at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Pasadena, California in 1949


Conti Condilo (trumpet)
Benny Green (trombone)
Roy Kral (piano)
Boots Musailli (saxophone)
Kenny O’Brien (bass)
Ed Shaughnessy (drums)
Charlie Ventura (saxophone)


01. Introduction and Theme Music 3.39
01.1. Yesterdays (Kern/Harbach)
01.2. The Peanut Vendor (Simons)
02. Euphoria (Kral/Ventura) 6.35
03. Fine And Dandy (Swift/Jones) 2.34
04. East Of Suez (Stein/Ventura) 3.26
05. If I Had You (Shaprio/Campbell/Connelly) 2.35
06. I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles (Kenbrovin/Kellete) 2.34
07. Pennies From Heaven (Johnston/Burke) 2.17
08. How High The Moon (Hamiliton/Lewis) 8.29



CharlieVentura04(December 2, 1916 – January 17, 1992)

Sunnyland Slim – Be Careful How You Vote (1983)

FrontCover1Exhibiting truly amazing longevity that was commensurate with his powerful, imposing physical build, Sunnyland Slim’s status as a beloved Chicago piano patriarch endured long after most of his peers had perished. For more than 50 years, the towering Sunnyland had rumbled the ivories around the Windy City, playing with virtually every local luminary imaginable and backing the great majority in the studio at one time or another.

He was born Albert Luandrew in Mississippi and received his early training on a pump organ. After entertaining at juke joints and movie houses in the Delta, Luandrew made Memphis his homebase during the late ’20s, playing along Beale Street and hanging out with the likes of Little Brother Montgomery and Ma Rainey.

He adopted his colorful stage name from the title of one of his best-known songs, the mournful “Sunnyland Train.” (The downbeat piece immortalized the speed and deadly power of a St. Louis-to-Memphis locomotive that mowed down numerous people unfortunate enough to cross its tracks at the wrong instant.)

SunnylandSlimSlim moved to Chicago in 1939 and set up shop as an in-demand piano man, playing for a spell with John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson before waxing eight sides for RCA Victor in 1947 under the somewhat misleading handle of “Doctor Clayton’s Buddy.” If it hadn’t been for the helpful Sunnyland, Muddy Waters may not have found his way onto Chess; it was at the pianist’s 1947 session for Aristocrat that the Chess brothers made Waters’s acquaintance.

Aristocrat (which issued his harrowing “Johnson Machine Gun”) was but one of a myriad of labels that Sunnyland recorded for between 1948 and 1956: Hytone, Opera, Chance, Tempo-Tone, Mercury, Apollo, JOB, Regal, Vee-Jay (unissued), Blue Lake, Club 51, and Cobra all cut dates on Slim, whose vocals thundered with the same resonant authority as his 88s. In addition, his distinctive playing enlivened hundreds of sessions by other artists during the same timeframe.

In 1960, Sunnyland Slim traveled to Englewood Cliffs, NJ, to cut his debut LP for Prestige’s Bluesville subsidiary with King Curtis supplying diamond-hard tenor sax breaks on many cuts. The album, Slim’s Shout, ranks as one of his finest, with definitive renditions of the pianist’s “The Devil Is a Busy Man,” “Shake It,” “Brownskin Woman,” and “It’s You Baby.”

Like a deep-rooted tree, Sunnyland Slim persevered despite the passing decades. For a time, he helmed his own label, Airway Records. As late as 1985, he made a fine set for the Red Beans logo, Chicago Jump, backed by the same crack combo that shared the stage with him every Sunday evening at a popular North side club called B.L.U.E.S. for some 12 years.

There were times when the pianist fell seriously ill, but he always defied the odds and returned to action, warbling his trademark Woody Woodpecker chortle and kicking off one more exultant slow blues as he had done for the previous half century. Finally, after a calamitous fall on the ice coming home from a gig led to numerous complications, Sunnyland Slim finally died of kidney failure in 1995. He’s sorely missed.(by Bill Dahl)

Lurrie Bell (guitar)
Beau Biley (trombone)
Sam Burckhardt (saxophone)
Chico Chism (drums)
Fred Grady (drums)
Eddie Lusk (organ)
Mickey Martin (drums)
Hasson Miah (drums)
Magic Slim (guitar)
Sunnyland Slim (vocals, piano)
Hubert Sumlin (guitar)
Eddie Taylor (guitar)

01. Be Careful How You Vote (1983) 3.39
02. I Done You Wrong (1949) 2.43
03. Sunnyland Train (1949) 2.42
04. You Have Heard Of A Woman (1949) 2.50
05. Past Life (1983) 4.46
06. She Got A Thing Going On  2.33
07. Going Back To Memphis (1954) 2.55
08. The Devil Is A Busy Man (1954) 2.46
09. Woman Trouble Overnite (1949) 2.56
10. We Gonna Jump (1964) 3.46
11. Orphan Boy Blues (1949) 2.51

AlternateFrontCoverAlternate frontcover


Blind Willie McTell & Curley Weaver – The Postwar Recordings 1949-1950 (2008)

FrontCover1Blind Willie McTell and Curley Weaver worked together on and off for many years, worrying their guitars and singing the blues. Aside from “My Baby’s Gone,” “It’s My Desire,” and “Hide Me in Thy Bosom,” most of their Regal recordings of 1949-1950 remained unissued for decades and took a long time to become generally available. It wasn’t until 2008 that the 1990 Document edition was reissued with the addition of three long lost selections for a total of 28 titles, and expanded liner notes by one David Evans. The newly amended titles are “I Got to Cross the River Jordan,” “How About You,” and an alternate take of “It’s My Desire.” If you want those additional tracks, go directly to the 2008 edition. Blind Willie’s voice is easily identifiable, and Weaver is clearly audible as the singer on “Ticket Agent” and “My Baby’s Gone.” The Regal material bridges the temporal gap between McTell’s Library of Congress recordings of 1940 and his last session, which took place in 1956. The Regals are more or less contemporaneous with his prized Atlantic recordings of 1949. Subject matter touches upon the usual spectrum of real life issues, with the “A to Z Blues” standing out as a nasty, violent, misogynistic remnant of minstrelsy and vaudeville. Recorded twice during the autumn of 1924, first by Butterbeans & Susie, then by Josie Miles and Billy Higgins, it is a longwinded tirade during which the singer threatens to mutilate every inch of a woman’s body with a straight-edged razor. Despite anyone’s intentions, it is not funny. When McTell for some ungodly reason chose to revive the tune in 1950, he turned it into a bouncy little strut which seems harmless enough until you start to absorb the meaning of the words. (by arwulf)

Blind Willie McTellBlind Willie McTell

Blind Willie McTell (guitar, vocals)
Curley Weaver (guitar, vocals)

CurlyWeaverCurly Weaver


Curley Weaver + Blind Willie McTell
01. My Baby’s Gone (Atkinson/Houser/Josea/Rosas) 3.02
02. Ticket Agent (McTell) 2.59
03. Don’t Forget (It) (Atkinson) 2.36
04. A To Z Blues (Traditional) 2.21
05. Good Little Things (Atkinson/McTell) 2.18
06. You Can’t Get Stuff No More (Theard) 2.56
07. Love Changin’ Blues (McTell) 2.30

Blind Willie McTell
08. Savannah Mama (McTell) 2.23
09. Talkin’ To You Mama (Atkinson/McTell) 3.08
10. East St. Louis (Atkinson) 2.38
11. Wee Midnight Hours (McTell) 3.09
12. She Don’t Treat Me Good No More (Weaver) 2.55
13. Brownskin Woman (Luandrew) 3.17
14. I Keep On Drinking (Traditional) 2.33
15. Pal Of Mine (Take 1) (McTell) 2.41
16. Pal Of Mine (Take 2) (McTell) 2.11
17. Honey It Must Be Love (Atkinson/McTell) 2.42

Blind Willie McTell
18. Sending Up My Timber (Take 1) (Traditional) 3.04

Blind Willie McTell + Curley Weaver
19. Sending Up My Timber (Take 2) (Traditional) 2.51
20. Lord Have Mercy If You Please (Chatman/McTell) 2.33
21. Trying To Get Home (Climbing High Montains) (Traditional) 2.24

Blind Willie McTell
22. It’s My Desire (McTell) 2.42
23. Hide Me In Thy Bosom (Atkinson/McTell) 2.41

Curley Weaver
24. Some Rainy Day (Traditional) 2.30
25. Trixie (Traditional) 2.02



Django Reinhardt – Djangology (2010)

FrontCover1This session was the first post-war collaboration between Reinhardt and Grappelli. Recorded in Rome, Italy in January and February of 1949:

In 1949, guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli performed together for the first time since the outbreak of World War II put an end to the classic lineup of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, with the pair reuniting in an Italian recording studio and laying down a number of tunes with a solid local rhythm section. In 1961, 12 songs from those sessions were released in the United States by RCA Victor under the name Djangology (and with Grappelli’s name misspelled on the cover); this expanded CD reissue features 23 tunes recorded during Reinhardt and Grappelli’s Rome sessions.

Stylistically, this material doesn’t represent a dramatic departure from the material Reinhardt recorded in the 1930s (while he’d been experimenting with an electric guitar at the time, these are fully acoustic sessions), though there are glimmers of new ideas the great guitarist had picked up along the way, most notably a few bop-influenced solos. But Reinhardt’s trademark gypsy swing is still as effortlessly enthusiastic as ever, and his by-play with Grappelli is simply wonderful; the intuitive symmetry of their performances is a marvel, and it’s hard to imagine that these musicians had spent ten years apart, given the ease and finesse with which they work together. (Bassist Carlo Pecori and drummer Aurelio de Carolis support the soloists well without imposing their personalities too strongly on the arrangements, and pianist Gianni Safred’s free-spirited bounce meshes well with Reinhardt and Grappelli’s more adventurous swing.)


Original frontcover from 1961

While the recording quality isn’t perfect, it’s noticeably better than the duo’s earlier sessions, and the remastering for this collection brings out the details without taking the edges out of the sound. Djangology is a lovely set of late-era performances from Django Reinhardt, and if it isn’t an ideal collection of his work, it’s certainly better (and better presented) than most Reinhardt CD’s currently on the market, and stands as further proof of the guitarist’s casual genius. (by Mark Deming)

Aurelio De Carolis (drums)
Stephane Grappelli (violin)
Carlo Pecori (bass)
Django Reinhardt (guitar)
Gianni Safred (piano)

01. I Saw Stars (Goodhart/Hoffman/Sigler) 3.30
02. After You’ve Gone (Creamer/Layton) 3.00
03. Heavy Artillery (Artillerie Lourde) (Reinhardt) 3.40
04. Beyond the Sea (La Mer) (Lawrence/Trenet) 4.16
05. Minor Swing (Grappelli/Reinhardt) 2.37
06. Menilmontant (Trenet) 3.03
07. Brick Top (Grappelli/Reinhardt) 3.44
08. Swing Guitars (Grappelli/Reinhardt) 2.54
09. All the Things You Are (Hammerstein/Kern) 2.54
10. Daphne (Grappelli/Reinhardt) 2.26
11. It’s Only A Paper Moon (Arlen/Harburg/Rose) 2.51
12. Improvisation on Pathetique (Andante) (Tchaikovsky) 3.44
13. The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise (Lockhart/Seitz) 2.52
14. Djangology (Grappelli/Reinhardt) 2.46
15. Ou Es-Tu, Mon Amour? (Where Are You, My Love?) (Stern) 3.22
16. Marie (Berlin) 2.54
17. I Surrender, Dear (Barris/Clifford) 3.45
18. Hallelujah (Grey/Robin/Youmans) 3.09
19. Swing ’42 (Reinhardt/Reisner) 2.26
20. I’ll Never Be the Same (Kahn/Malneck/Signorelli) 4.02
21. Honeysuckle Rose (Razaf/Waller) 3.59
22. Lover Man (Davis/Ramirez/Sherman) 3.11
23. I Got Rhythm (Gershwin) 2.44


Various Artists – A New Orleans Jazz Festival 1949 – 1952 (1974)

FrontCover1This ia a very rare album from 1974 with traditonal jazz & dixie music … recorded live.

The highlights are tracks 9–11 where you hear not less than 5 Bigbands playing (mostly) simultaneously. The event was called “Gene Norman & Frank Bull Dixieland Jubilee Concert”. Later in the 50ies Gene Norman & Frank Bull startet a record label called “Dixieland Jubilee”.
When I hear historical recordings like this, I always try to compare them to something in our time. In 1950 Jazz was as old as Techno is today, about 25 years. So for the visitors this event must have been similar to the LoveParades of today.


George Lewis And His Ragtime Band (Artisan Hall, New Orleans, December 14, 1952):
01. At A Georgia Camp Meeting (Mills) 3.43
02. Chimes Blues (Oliver) 5.03
03. Burgundy Street Blues  (Lewis) 5.20

Kid Ory’s Creole Band (Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, October 7, 1949):
04. Tiger Rag (LaRocca) 3.39
05. Savoy Blues (Ory) 2.54
06. Twelth Street Rag (Bowman) 3.35
07. Eh! La Bas (Traditional) 3.05

The Massed Jazz Bands (Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, October 7, 1949):
08. High Society (Steele) 2.57
09. Who’s Sorry Now (Kalmar/Snyder/Ruby) 2.10
10. Muskrat Ramble (Ory) 2.43
11. South Rampart Street Parade (Ory) 2.48
Kid Ory’s Creole BandKid Ory’s Creole Band

Cole Porter – Kiss Me, Kate (Original Broadway Recording) (1949)

CDFrontCover1Kiss Me, Kate is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The story involves the production of a musical version of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and the conflict on and off-stage between Fred Graham, the show’s director, producer, and star, and his leading lady, his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi. A secondary romance concerns Lois Lane, the actress playing Bianca, and her gambler boyfriend, Bill, who runs afoul with some gangsters. The original production starred Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Lisa Kirk and Harold Lang and won the Tony-Award.

Pic01Kiss Me, Kate was Porter’s response to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and other integrated musicals; it was the first show he wrote in which the music and lyrics were firmly connected to the script, and it proved to be his biggest hit and the only one of his shows to run for more than 1,000 performances on Broadway. In 1949, it won the first Tony Award presented for Best Musical.

After a 3½-week pre-Broadway tryout at the Shubert Theatre in Philadelphia starting December 2, 1948, the original Broadway production opened on December 30, 1948, at the New Century Theatre, where it ran for nineteen months before transferring to the Shubert, for a total run of 1,077 performances. Directed by John C. Wilson with choreography by Hanya Holm, the original cast included Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Lisa Kirk, Harold Lang, Charles Wood and Harry Clark.


 Original frontcover from 1949

The idea for Kiss Me, Kate was planted in the mind of producer Saint Subber in 1935. While working as a stagehand for the Theatre Guild’s production of The Taming of the Shrew, Subber noticed that the stars of the show, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, had a backstage relationship that was almost as tempestuous as the one they had onstage while portraying Shakespeare’s famous quarelling couple.

Although veteran comedy writers Samuel and Bella Spewack had been separated for some time, they reunited to write the libretto for Kiss Me, Kate, and after the production, they chose to stay together permanently. Their libretto creates a play-within-a-play that follows the lives of egotistical actor-producer Fred Graham and his temperamental co-star and ex-wife, Lili Vanessi in a production of, you guessed it, Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Cole Porter’s brilliant score borrows freely from Shakespeare’s dialogue for lyrics in the musical numbers that take place “onstage” but makes use of more modern syntax in the “backstage” numbers.

Kiss Me, Kate opened at the New Century Theatre on December 30, 1948, with Alfred Drake and Patricia Morison in the lead roles. The production went on to win 5 Tony Awards including “Best Musical,” “Best Script” and “Best Score” before closing on July 28, 1951 after 1,070 performances. The show was then remounted at the London Coliseum on March 8, 1951 and ran for another 400 performances


Alfred Drake (Fred Graham, Petruchio); Patricia Morrison (Lilli Vanessi, Katharine); Lisa Kirk (Lois Lane, Bianca); Harold Lang (Bill Calhoun, Lucentio); Thomas Holer (Harry Trevor, Baptista); Don Mayo (Ralph); Annabelle Hill (Hattie); Lorenzo Fuller (Paul); Harry Clark (First Man); Jack Diamond (Second Man); Bill Lilling (Stage Doorman); Denis Green (Harrison Howell); Edwin Clay (Gremio); Charles Wood (Hortensio); John Castello (Haberdasher); Marc Breaux (Tailor)
Orchestra conducted by Pembroke Davenport

Original playbill from 1949


The original Broadway version from 1949:
01. Overture 2.42
02. Another Op’nin’ Another Show 1.45
03. Why Can’t You Behave? 3.00
04. Wunderbar 3.39
05. So In Love 3.38
06. We Open In Venice 2.02
07. Tom, Dick Or Harry 2.08
08. I’ve Come To Wive It Wealthily In Padua 2.14
09. I Hate Men 2.15
10. Were Thine That Special Face 4.14
11. Too Darn Hot 3.37
12. Where Is the Life That Late I Led? 4.26
13. Always True To You (In My Fashion) 4.01
14. Bianca 2.10
15. So In Love 2.15
16. Brush Up Your Shakespeare 1.43
17. I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple 1.52
18. Finale 0.48

The Original London version from 1951:
19. Why Can’t You Behave? 2.52
20. Wunderbar 3.01
21. So In Love 2.28
22. I Hate Men 3.18
23. Were Thine That Special Face 3.41
24. Always True To You (In My Fashion) 2.59
25. Where Is The Life That Late I Led? 4.23
26. Brush Up Your Shakespeare 4.10

Words and music written by Cole Porter


Cole Porter during the recording sessions, 1949