"Rhythm King"

"Rhythm King"

Brad Kay
Brad Kay

August 25th, 2015, 9:33 am #1

I've just acquired a New Minus copy of "Rhythm King," by Bix Beiderbecke and his Gang, on a glossy, laminated, master-pressed Brunswick record (8242), issued in 1938. I had been satisfied, more or less, to have a serviceable, E-minus copy on the original OKeh, but then this New one turned up on eBay, cheap!, so I went for it.

What a difference! The band is utterly present in the room. The time is NOW, and it's 1928. Everyone is clearly defined; there's breathtaking separation.

Bix is some distance from the mike, which affords him a lot of dynamic headroom. I noticed, as if for the first time, his great sense of continuity and drama. His cornet ties the whole side together, makes it classic. Sonnets could be written about some of his individual notes. On the whole, this is one of his most successful and fulfilling records. Probably his LAST completely successful record, sad to say.

Roy Bargy's piano is lovely and understated. He does nothing spectacular, but he solos thoughtfully and comps like hell - something that got lost in the surface noise of the E-minus copy. I love his descending chords leading right into the last chorus.

Skipping over the other worthies, how about that DRUMMER?: IS IT Hal MacDonald? I wonder! This guy drops bombs, aggressively attacks the cymbals, makes a generally berserk noise. He brings an element of dissonance to the side, spicing it up - or should I say, SPIKING it up - enormously. He lends the record a wild and wooly "Chicago" quality. I had assumed this was Harry Gale, Bix's friend from Davenport, one of the only "outsiders" to make a record with him. But no: checking Rust, I learned that Gale is on the PREVIOUS session, from July, in Chicago; and this was two-and-a-half months later, September 21, in New York. So - - Did Hal MacDonald drop acid and turn in a totally Red Indian performance, unlike anything else he ever did? Or was this . . . someone else? He's on the other two sides they cut that day, "Louisiana" and "Margie," and he keeps on playing in this wacked way.

ANYWAY, what a lovely record! Your thoughts?

-Brad Kay

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Nick Dellow
Nick Dellow

August 25th, 2015, 12:58 pm #2


Brad, we discussed this very subject last year - take a look at this post and the ones following it:-

http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... argy+speak.



Nick
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

August 25th, 2015, 1:54 pm #3

I've just acquired a New Minus copy of "Rhythm King," by Bix Beiderbecke and his Gang, on a glossy, laminated, master-pressed Brunswick record (8242), issued in 1938. I had been satisfied, more or less, to have a serviceable, E-minus copy on the original OKeh, but then this New one turned up on eBay, cheap!, so I went for it.

What a difference! The band is utterly present in the room. The time is NOW, and it's 1928. Everyone is clearly defined; there's breathtaking separation.

Bix is some distance from the mike, which affords him a lot of dynamic headroom. I noticed, as if for the first time, his great sense of continuity and drama. His cornet ties the whole side together, makes it classic. Sonnets could be written about some of his individual notes. On the whole, this is one of his most successful and fulfilling records. Probably his LAST completely successful record, sad to say.

Roy Bargy's piano is lovely and understated. He does nothing spectacular, but he solos thoughtfully and comps like hell - something that got lost in the surface noise of the E-minus copy. I love his descending chords leading right into the last chorus.

Skipping over the other worthies, how about that DRUMMER?: IS IT Hal MacDonald? I wonder! This guy drops bombs, aggressively attacks the cymbals, makes a generally berserk noise. He brings an element of dissonance to the side, spicing it up - or should I say, SPIKING it up - enormously. He lends the record a wild and wooly "Chicago" quality. I had assumed this was Harry Gale, Bix's friend from Davenport, one of the only "outsiders" to make a record with him. But no: checking Rust, I learned that Gale is on the PREVIOUS session, from July, in Chicago; and this was two-and-a-half months later, September 21, in New York. So - - Did Hal MacDonald drop acid and turn in a totally Red Indian performance, unlike anything else he ever did? Or was this . . . someone else? He's on the other two sides they cut that day, "Louisiana" and "Margie," and he keeps on playing in this wacked way.

ANYWAY, what a lovely record! Your thoughts?

-Brad Kay
... "The Drummers in the Recordings of Frank Trumbauer and His Orchestra and of Bix Beiderbecke and His Gang, 1927-1929: An Anomaly and a Hypothesis." (My first James C. Gordon best article award).

http://bixography.com/bixdrummers.html

Lennie Hayton is indeed the drummer in the last recording session of Bix and His Gang: Rhythm King, Louisiana, Margie.

Here is visual proof that Lennie played drums.



Albert
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Nick Dellow
Nick Dellow

August 25th, 2015, 2:39 pm #4


BUT the same drummer who plays on Bix and His Gang's "Margie", "Rhythm King" and "Louisiana" also plays on the Trumbauer dates of October 5th, 1928 (that produced "The Love Nest", "Sentimental Baby", "The Japanese Sandman" and "High Up On A Hilltop") and September 20th, 1928 ("Love Affairs" and "Take Your Tomorrow"). And you said last year that "According to Evans and Evans the arranger for the Sep 20, 1928 recordings of "Take Your Tomorrow" and "Love Affairs" was Lennie Hayton. No instrument listed in Trumbauer's ledgers for Hayton because he did not play any, he was the arranger and got paid $50 for the arrangements" So if he didn't play the drums on this Trumbauer session, it follows that he isn't the drummer on the Bix and His Gang session of September 21, 1928.

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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

August 25th, 2015, 6:48 pm #5

I looked in Evans and Evans and cannot find the quote. Evans and Evans list Hayton as drummer for the Trumbauer session of Sep 20 and the Bix and His Gang session of Sep 21. Evans and Kiner make the following comment after the listing of the Trumbauer session of Sep 20:

Trumbauer's ledgers show payments made to Bix $55 ($70 less a $15 advance); Roy Bargy, $30; Bill Rank, $50. The rest of the musicans were paid $25 each. It is curious that Lennie Hayton was paid $50 but his instrument is not listed. It has been suggested that he played drums for this session.

Interestingly, in the listing of musicians for the Sep 21 Trumbauer session, Evans and Kiner list Hayton as drummer.

Hayton is listed as drummer in the Sep 20 and 21 sessions in the booklet for the Mosaic set on Bix and Tram.

I think that Hayton is indeed the drummer in the two sessions. According the Tram's ledgers he was present in the Sep 20 session and was paid. The pianist in the Sep 20 session was Roy Bargy according to Tram's ledgers. Roy Bargy himself confirmed he played piano in the Sep 21, session, including the piano duet in Louisiana. So hat would Hayton be doing in the Sep 20 and 21 sesssions if not playing drums? This coupled with the photo of Hayton playing drums is convincing evidence to me that Hayton played drums in the Sep 20 and 21, 1928 sessions.

Albert
Last edited by ahaim on August 25th, 2015, 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Nick Dellow
Nick Dellow

August 25th, 2015, 7:27 pm #6


The same drummer is on the October 5th, 1928 Trumbauer session, but according to Richard Sudhalter (in the Bix-Tram-Teagarden Mosaic box set liner notes) Lennie Hayton "is clearly the pianist on the date -- and the drummer's name, as recorded in Trumbauer's ledger, is illegible." In describing the efforts of the unknown drummer, Sudhalter says "....his banging and clattering is even more jarring than that on the September 'Gang' session."

I definitely agree with Sudhalter that it's the same guy on drums, and if Hayton is the pianist on the October 5th session then this would presumably rule him out as the drummer on this and, therefore, on the September 20th and 21st sessions, wouldn't it?



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Brad Kay
Brad Kay

August 25th, 2015, 7:54 pm #7

I looked in Evans and Evans and cannot find the quote. Evans and Evans list Hayton as drummer for the Trumbauer session of Sep 20 and the Bix and His Gang session of Sep 21. Evans and Kiner make the following comment after the listing of the Trumbauer session of Sep 20:

Trumbauer's ledgers show payments made to Bix $55 ($70 less a $15 advance); Roy Bargy, $30; Bill Rank, $50. The rest of the musicans were paid $25 each. It is curious that Lennie Hayton was paid $50 but his instrument is not listed. It has been suggested that he played drums for this session.

Interestingly, in the listing of musicians for the Sep 21 Trumbauer session, Evans and Kiner list Hayton as drummer.

Hayton is listed as drummer in the Sep 20 and 21 sessions in the booklet for the Mosaic set on Bix and Tram.

I think that Hayton is indeed the drummer in the two sessions. According the Tram's ledgers he was present in the Sep 20 session and was paid. The pianist in the Sep 20 session was Roy Bargy according to Tram's ledgers. Roy Bargy himself confirmed he played piano in the Sep 21, session, including the piano duet in Louisiana. So hat would Hayton be doing in the Sep 20 and 21 sesssions if not playing drums? This coupled with the photo of Hayton playing drums is convincing evidence to me that Hayton played drums in the Sep 20 and 21, 1928 sessions.

Albert
I was pretty sure this topic had been covered, just didn't know when. SO: the drummer I assumed it WASN'T, Hal MacDonald, actually wasn't George Marsh. I'm glad at least we got THAT settled.

Then, thanks to Nick and Albert, we sail right into controversy: the drummer might have been Lennie Hayton, or possibly Justin Ring. The preponderance of evidence favors Lennie. He was something of a free agent, playing timpani, harmonium, the third hand in the piano duet on "Louisiana," - and possibly the drums.

I listened to "In the Bottle Blues," and - sorry Nick! - THAT drummer is a Square from Delaware. He's mostly smack on the beat, barely holding the franchise by hitting on two and four. Otherwise, he can hardly keep up with his hipper colleagues. Justin Ring seems about right. Now, he might have been playing on the same actual drum kit that was used for the Bix sessions - you know: the OKeh House Drum Kit. I hear that same crash cymbal.

But - again - the "Rhythm King" guy was WILD! If it is Lennie Hayton, it is for me a hitherto undetected dimension of his musicianship, but one that I wouldn't put past him, given his overall skills. Evidently, there was more than a little George Wettling or Gene Krupa in him.

But leave us not sink into the mire of controversy. I was originally kvelling about the whole record of "Rhythm King," which taken entire, is marvellous, clearly the high point of the session. I think it's greater than the sum of its parts. The tune obviously inspired everyone. The Bix & his Gang record is really only half of the equation. Give a listen to the OTHER half, the Whiteman Rhythm Boys version on Columbia:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vPnwF2mdZU

The lyrics - by Jo Trent! - flesh out this tale of intoxication, abandonment and Jazz Nirvana, clearly catnip for the musicians.

I am going to transfer my New copy of the Bix "Rhythm King" afresh for the Forumites. Stay tuned!

-Brad
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

August 25th, 2015, 8:56 pm #8

The same drummer is on the October 5th, 1928 Trumbauer session, but according to Richard Sudhalter (in the Bix-Tram-Teagarden Mosaic box set liner notes) Lennie Hayton "is clearly the pianist on the date -- and the drummer's name, as recorded in Trumbauer's ledger, is illegible." In describing the efforts of the unknown drummer, Sudhalter says "....his banging and clattering is even more jarring than that on the September 'Gang' session."

I definitely agree with Sudhalter that it's the same guy on drums, and if Hayton is the pianist on the October 5th session then this would presumably rule him out as the drummer on this and, therefore, on the September 20th and 21st sessions, wouldn't it?


.... Oct 5 session is the same as in the Sep 20 and 21 sessions. If I assume that it is Lennie Hayton in all these sessions, I have to explain the pianist in the Oct 5 session. I hear very little piano in the four numbers recorded on Oct 5 - The Love Nest, The Japanese Sandman, High Up On A Hilltop and Sentimental Baby. I really don't see how Sudhalter can say Lennie Hayton "is clearly the pianist on the date." He is barely heard - at least I hardly hear a piano and only in a few instances. I wonder if the drummer with an "illegible" name actually played piano, or even if he was there at all and (yes, yes, speculation!!!) Bix took to the piano when it was needed???

Let's stipulate that the drummer is one and the same in the three recording sessions, Sep 20 and 21 and Oct 5. How do we explain the fact (at least I'll take it a a fact -Tram's ledgers, Bargy's witness report) that Lennie Hayton was present in the Sep 20 and 21 sessions? What the hell was he doing during the five recordings of Sep 20 and 21 when 17 (!!!) takes were made of the numbers recorded?

Albert
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Nick Dellow
Nick Dellow

August 26th, 2015, 10:06 am #9

Thanks for your interesting post, as also thanks to Brad for his (and well done on the Brunswick - I have a copy and agree with you).

Some more information, and some more questions:-

Firstly, Albert, in a previous post further up this string of posts you say: "So what would Hayton be doing in the Sep 20 and 21 sessions if not playing drums?" I think the likely answer to that is that Hayton wasn't actually at the September 20th Trumbauer session - he was listed in the Trumbauer ledgers for payment of $50 because he was the arranger for the session, and in fact this was a suggestion that you made yourself in your post of September 28th, 2014, following a suggestion along these lines in a previous post by Mark Gabrish Conlan. You said "No instrument listed in Trumbauer's ledgers for Hayton because he did not play any, he was the arranger and got paid $50 for the arrangements". As for the September 21st Bix and his Gang session, Hayton is just the second pianist. On the same day he recorded on celeste with Paul Whiteman's Orchestra at the same New York studios, so he was ready to lend a hand - quite literally (a right-hand in this instance!). (It should be noted that by this date Columbia owned OKeh and all the New York recordings took place in the same Columbia studios - in effect, OKeh was simply a label.)

Regarding the Trumbauer session of October 5th, 1928, I think the mystery drummer can be heard on several of the sides where Hayton (if it is him) plays piano at the same time, for instance, in the coda of "Sentimental Baby" and under Tram's vocal in "Japanese Sandman". But I take your point that it is not exactly obvious that it must be Hayton, as Sudhalter so confidently states.

Regarding the Bix and His Gang session of September 21st, 1928, according to Roy Bargy's report to Phil Evans, the piano solo in "Louisiana" is a four-hand duet with Hayton. So who plays the choked cymbal behind the pianists? Albert, you asked this very question in your post of September 24th, 2014. That's what really set the whole ball rolling. Indeed, the right-hand fill-ins sound very like Hayton. He can't be hand-choking the cymbal at the same time though, as that requires two hands! Also, the same hand-choking of the same cymbal can be heard on the September 20th and October 5th Trumbauer sessions.

Though Roy Bargy may have stated to Evans that Hayton was present at the Bix and His Gang session of September 21st, as far as I am aware he did not indicate that Hayton was the drummer, did he? In his post of September 24th, 2014, Mark Gabrish Conlan states: "George Marsh, Paul Whiteman's regular band drummer in 1928 and 1929, was "de-listed" as the drummer on the September 21, 1928 Bix and His Gang session based on an interview Philip Evans did with Roy Bargy regarding the October 5, 1928 Frank Trumbauer session, on which Bargy was the pianist. Bargy told Evans that Marsh "was not on any of the (jazz) recordings ... He wasn't a jazz drummer." What is odd here is that although Evans evidently "de-listed" Marsh based on what Bargy said to him, in "Tram: The Frank Trumbauer Story", Evans lists Lennie Hayton as the pianist for the October 5th session even though Bargy said HE was the pianist on this session!!!! (Just to compound matters, Evans lists Bargy as the pianist on the September 20th Trumbauer session!)

Regarding the September 20th Trumbauer session, it should also be noted that Evans and Kiner state "It has been SUGGESTED [my caps] that he [Hayton] played drums for this session" but they don't provide the source for this suggestion, and yet on the page before they actually list Hayton as being the drummer (in their discographical listing for the session) without even providing a question mark! This sort of attribution is very annoying, because once a suggestion is put in print like this, without a question mark it quickly corrodes into a "fact" when in fact it is nothing of the sort! Moreover, it seems that Phil Evans changed his mind about who the drummer was - in Bix: Man and Legend, the drummer for this session is listed as Chauncey Morehouse! Brian Rust also changes his mind, from George Marsh in earlier editions of Jazz Records to Chauncey Morehouse in the 5th edition - not only for the 20th September session but also the 5th October Trumbauer session too! There is no way in a million years that this amateur basher is the great Chauncey Morehouse! No way! Never mind, Rust changes his mind yet again in time for the 6th edition of his discography (see listings below)

Another important point about this mystery "drummer" is that he is better described as being a "percussionist" in that all he is doing is using a cymbal (the one he hand-chokes), a floor tom and a much larger crash cymbal. I can't hear a side drum or a bass drum. I previously thought he might have been hitting a bass drum with a drum stick, but I now agree with Mark Berresford who thinks it is a large floor tom (which Rust obviously confuses with timpani).

Finally, I would like to summarise some the discographical listings for these three sessions, with particular reference to the drummers (with pianists in brackets):-


SEPTEMBER 20th, 1928 (FRANK TRUMBAUER AND HIS ORCHESTRA):-

-- Rust (Jazz Records): 1st -4th editions - George Marsh (Lennie Hayton listed as pianist); 5th edition - Chauncey Morehouse (Roy Bargy listed as pianist); 6th edition - Lennie Hayton (Roy Bargy listed as pianist, but with a question mark next to his name)
-- Catelli, Kaleveld and Pusateri (The Bix Bands): George Marsh (Lennie Hayton listed as pianist)
-- Sudhalter and Evans: Chauncey Morehouse
-- Evans and Evans: Lennie Hayton (Roy Bargy listed as pianist)
-- Blackstone (Index To Jazz): Harry Gale (Roy Bargy listed as pianist)
-- Delauney (New Hot Discography): Harry Gale (Lennie Hayton listed as pianist)
-- Lion (Bixography Discography): Lennie Hayton (Roy Bargy listed as pianist)


SEPTEMBER 21st, 1928 (BIX AND HIS GANG):-

-- Rust (Jazz Records): 1st-4th editions - George Marsh (Roy Bargy and Lennie Hayton listed as pianists, with Hayton also playing timpani and harmonium); 5th-6th editions - Lennie Hayton, timpani (Roy Bargy and Lennie Hayton listed as pianists, with Hayton also playing harmonium)
-- Catelli, Kaleveld and Pusateri (The Bix Bands): George Marsh (Roy Bargy listed as pianist, but noting that Hayton plays "third hand treble" as well)
-- Blackstone (Index To Jazz): Harry Gale (Lennie Hayton listed as pianist)
-- Delauney (New Hot Discography): Harry Gale (Lennie Hayton listed as pianist)
-- Carey, McCarthy and Venables (Jazz Directory): Harry Gale (Lennie Hayton listed as pianist)
-- Lion (Bixography Discography): Lennie Hayton (Roy Bargy and Lennie Hayton listed as pianists, with Hayton also playing harmonium)

(NOTE: There is no timpani on this side! The deep drum sound is made by a large floor tom)
(NOTE: Whiteman band recorded on the same day in the same studios)


OCTOBER 5th, 1928 (FRANK TRUMBAUER AND HIS ORCHESTRA):-

-- Rust (Jazz Records): 1st-4th editions - George Marsh (Lennie Hayton listed as pianist); 5th edition - Chauncey Morehouse (Roy Bargy listed as "definite" pianist); 6th edition - "unknown drums" (Lennie Hayton is listed as the pianist, so Bargy obviously wasn't the "definite" article after all!)
-- Catelli, Kaleveld and Pusateri (The Bix Bands): No drummer listed (Lennie Hayton listed as the pianist)
-- Evans and Evans: "Unknown" (Lennie Hayton listed as pianist)
-- Blackstone (Index To Jazz): Harry Gale (Roy Bargy listed as pianist)
-- Delauney (New Hot Discography): George Marsh (Lennie Hayton listed as pianist)
-- Lion (Bixography Discography): "Unknown" (Lennie Hayton listed as pianist)

(NOTE: Whiteman band recorded on the same day in the same studios)

Albert, what does Tom Lord say about these sessions? Thanks


Last edited by ahaim on August 26th, 2015, 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

August 26th, 2015, 1:09 pm #10

According to Lord

Sep 20 Bargy p Hayton d

Sep 21 Bargy p Hayton d, p, harmonium

Oct 5 Hayton p unidentified d

I also noticed piano and drums being played simultaneously. That is why I made my outrageous speculation of the guy with the illegible name playing piano instead of drums or I went so far as to mention Bix as the occasionally heard pianist!!!

Your summary of all assignments is quite revealing of the uncertainties of discographical data, and I use the word data with a grain of salt. Data is fact, discographical information is, in many instances, guesswork.

Clearly, I am confused, going back and forth like a ping pong ball. As I said, a fine mess.

Albert
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