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