David Sager's 2005 essay about "Singin' the Blues."

David Sager's 2005 essay about "Singin' the Blues."

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

August 26th, 2015, 7:44 pm #1

Quote
Like
Share

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

August 26th, 2015, 8:24 pm #2

David wrote the article earlier this year to accompany the 2005 induction of "Singin' the Blues" in the National Recording Registry.

Singin' the Blues Frankie Trumbauer, Bix Beiderbecke 1927 2005 Jazz

My nomination of "Singin' the Blues" to the National Recording Preservation Board for inclusion in the National Recording Registry.

Recording artist(s)
Bix Beiderbecke and Frank Trumbauer

Title of recording
“Singin’ the Blues”

Date of original recording
February 4, 1927

Recording label name and number
Okeh 40772

Description
(brief, but specific)
A jazz recording by a seven-piece band: Bix Beiderbecke on cornet; Bill Rank on trombone [Note 1]; Frank Trumbauer on C-melody saxophone; Jimmy Dorsey on clarinet; Paul Mertz on piano; Eddie Lang on guitar; Chauncey Morehouse on drums.

Justification for inclusion in the registry
(brief, but specific)

Frank Trumbauer and His Orchestra's recording of "Singin' the Blues" is viewed by jazz musicians and historians as one of the two seminal jazz recordings of the 1920s. (The other is "West End Blues by Louis Armstrong).

"Singin' the Blues" has been widely recognized as the first jazz ballad.

Bix Beiderbecke's solo in the recording has been extensively quoted in subsequent recordings. Thus, the solo is reproduced almost note for note by Rex Stewart with Fletcher Henderson's orchestra in their 1931 recordings of the tune.

Lester Young stated that Trumbauer's "Singin' the Blues was one of the most influential recordings in his musical career.

"Singin' the Blues" received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1972.
Bix Beiderbecke, the key musician in the recording has been honored by several awards. Bix was inducted in the International Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997. The house where Bix was born has been in the National Register of Historic Places since 1977. In 1997, Bix was honored with a bronze plaque in the "Sweet and Hot Music Foundation Walk of Fame." [Note 2]

In summary, the Recording of "Singin' the Blues by Frank Trumbauer and His Orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke is one of the most important jazz recordings of the 1920s. It has historical significance as well as high aesthetic value. It includes four of the most influential jazz pioneers: Bix Beiderbecke, Jimmy Dorsey, Eddie Lang, and Frank Trumbauer.

The inclusion of this recording in the National Recording Registry will enhance the importance and prestige of the National Recording Preservation Board.

Note 1. This was written before I learned that the trombonist was Miff Mole.
Note 2. This was written before Bix was inducted in the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame.

Albert
Last edited by ahaim on August 26th, 2015, 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

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

August 26th, 2015, 9:03 pm #3




Albert
Quote
Like
Share

Mark Gabrish Conlan
Mark Gabrish Conlan

August 27th, 2015, 5:24 am #4

No further encomia are needed from me about "Singin' the Blues." I remember reading one essay on so-called "smooth jazz" that said the first "smooth jazz" record was Dave Brubeck's 1959 recording "Take Five." "It was not!" I bellowed at whoever in the house was in earshot. "It was Frank Trumbauer's and Bix Beiderbecke's 'Singin' the Blues,' 32 years earlier!"

It was nice to read David Sager's essay and in particular his reference to Tram's "humorous, carefree approach that accurately foreshadows the sound of Lester Young a decade later. Young, of course, would often cite Trumbauer, and this recording, as among his major influences." It's a particular bone with me that the reverse-racist critics who dominate jazz historiography these days keep insisting that Lester Young couldn't have been influenced by Frank Trumbauer when Young himself said over and over again that Tram was his great stylistic model.

Only one disagreement with Gary Giddins' essay (as much as I respect him as a jazz reissue producer and critic): I highly doubt the ensemble passages in the third chorus are "collective improvisation." I suspect they were written out in advance by arranger Bill Challis. For years critics described the ensembles in Jelly Roll Morton's recordings as collective improvisations even though Morton's widow had told Alan Lomax that she had watched Morton's rehearsals and heard him tell his musicians to "just play the little black dots that I have put there." When alternate takes of Morton's recordings were released, it became clear Morton's widow had been right and the critics had been wrong: the ensembles were note-for-note the same on each take and only the solos differed -- and even those only differed slightly between takes. Ever since then I've taken the idea that elaborate ensemble passages on traditional jazz recordings were collectively improvised with more than a grain of salt.
Quote
Share