Saturday, May 14, 2016

Past And Present

Georg Lankester
Georg Lankester writes a review of some recordings recently added to his collection reflecting the influence of Django Reinhardt - past and present.

An Old Django Recording From His Musette Years 

Last March I spent a weekend in Belgium to visit the beautiful town of Antwerp and to meet a very good  Django friend. Together we went to a huge cd & book department in the branch of the French “Fnac” company, with headquarters in Paris. Looking around I happened to find a Double CD dedicated to the Parisian Musette with many interesting tracks of different artists from the past.
CD box: Accordion Paris Musette, CD RETRO 2007-  2x 618
To my surprise one of the CDs included a track of the former accordionist Vetese Guérino, accompanied by guitarist Django Reinhardt.
The legendary accordionist Vetese Guérino
Accordionst Guérino was a popular artist in Paris in the Twenties and Thirties and his orchestra was called La boîte à matelots (sailors’box). Both Django Reinhardt and Baro Ferret joined this band (and often Gusti Malha) of which some recordings were made.
La boîte à matelots
The featured title on this CD is Gallito - a paso double – which was recorded in 1933 with Django now on guitar, so some years after the fire accident. Guérino already asked Django in his band around 1925 because of his special banjo technique which was far different than all other players. I could add to this that, in the early Thirties, Django usually travelled to Toulon in summertime and also there performed with Guérino in 1931. A nice experience to find such a recording which brings back memories of the heydays of the Musette. - You have the opportunity to listen to Gallito in the YouTube audio-video below as the first track from the uploaded disc 2 of the box-set mentioned above.

Great Guitar Playing,  For ‘Gypsy Swing’ Fans And Others 

For more than 50 years I am fascinated by the music of Django Reinhardt and I have seen and heard lots of artists playing in the style which he created. Most of what they recorded forms part of my collection and here is another item that certainly can be added.
Stunt Records, CD STUCD 15162
The Schmitt family from the Alsace is well-known, because several of its members got worldwide reputation as guitar virtuosos, in particular the brothers Tchavelo and Dorado. The latter’s son, Amati - who is also playing in the Django tradition – now joins his father’s quintet and together they travel throughout Europe in order to give concerts. One of their concerts took place in Denmark, in the city of Fredericia where they joined the Winter Festival in 2014. And….then something particular occurred.
Dorado & Amati Schmitt Group
After their concert, when the audience had left, a series of recordings were made for the Stunt Records label. A great initiative. The result is the CD Sinti du Monde which includes 11 titles and here is my first impression.

Right from the start, backed by an easy swinging rhythm group, Dorado plays the lovely  melody of Rose Room like Django did in the Thirties (though the sound of the guitar is a bit different). His solo is inventive and includes fast runs, but it is never too far off the theme. And so he continues the other  ten tracks, always showing control over his instrument, improvising whatever the rhythm is. In his composition For Francko, Dorado adds some vocals and the Ballade Romanez (another own piece) is impressive  with a solo of great beauty. Next to a few nice bossa themes Dorado also can be heard on violin in the Waltz for Esben - a homage to the Danish producer of the CD. Again it shows that he masters this instrument while bringing beautiful improvisations.

Dorado & Amati Schmitt (photo courtesy Stunt Records)
It is not my intention to describe all tracks. Django fans should discover that themselves. Tracklist include these titles: Rose room, Stompin’at the Savoy, For Francko, Ballade Romanez, Gloria forever, Waltz for Esben, After you’ve gone, Je suis seul ce-soir, How high the moon, Hayo Cue Cae, My blue heaven. - More info at the website of Stunt Records, here. Official website of Dorado Schmitt, here 

To end this review, I found a couple of YouTube videos featuring Dorado and Amati Schmitt Quintette recorded live in Denmark earlier this year - enjoy!

Georg Lankester,

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Music In The Modern Manner - The Hudson-DeLange Orchestra (1936-38)

Swing emerged with the rise of big bands mid-1930s in the USA, and while the music of orchestras led by Jimmie Lunceford, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Glenn Miller and many others is still played today and appreciated by swing music fans, a then popular band co-led by songwriter/arranger Will Hudson (1908-1981) and songwriter/vocalist Eddie DeLange (1904-1949) - The Hudson-DeLange Orchestra - is almost forgotten by contemporary big band swing enthusiasts. The reason for this unfair treatment of some great music may partly depend on the short lived existence of the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra and further on the sad fact that the music of the band has not been reissued on CD - only a much searched after LP by collectors released by Bandstand Records (BSR 7105)  seems to have reissued and presented some of the recordings by the orchestra since the original 78 rpm discs were in the market.

LP front: Sophisticated Swing of The Hudson-DeLange Orchestra (1936-1939)

Will Hudson
Will Hudson put together his first big band in the ‘30s in Detroit, but in 1935 he teamed with Eddie De Lange and formed the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra which made several recordings for the Brunswick label. He was active as an arranger for several of the top bandleaders of the day such as Cab Calloway and McKinney’s Cotton Pickers. He also wrote for Fletcher Henderson, who recorded his Hocus Pocus in 1934, and Jimmie Lunceford, who took Hudson’s instrumental, Organ Grinder’s Swing to number two on the charts in 1936. Hudson’s Sophisticated Swing with lyrics by Mitchell Parrish was recorded by several bands in 1938, including Woody Herman’s. The songwriting duo of Hudson and DeLange has one of the finest standards to its credit, Moonglow, written in 1934. It was published by Irving Mills who is also credited, as many publishers were then, with contributing to its origin. (info excerpted from this source)

Eddie DeLange
Eddie De Lange came from a musical family, but he began his career as a stunt man in Hollywood movies. When he returned to New York City in 1932 he worked as a lyricist for the music publishing company of Irving Mills and collaborated on The Man with the Horn (with Jack Jenney, 1932); Haunting Me (with Joseph Myrow, 1934); and two enduring standards, Moonglow (with Will Hudson and Irving Mills, 1934) and Solitude (with Duke Ellington, 1935). From 1935 to 1938 he and Will Hudson led one of the early swing bands and recorded for the Brunswick label. The band was extremely popular and played hundreds of engagements in the best venues around USA. (info excerpted from this souurce)

The Hudson-DeLange Orchestra
With the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra, much of the time DeLange led the band and Hudson stayed behind the scenes. The group appeared principally in eastern colleges, ballrooms, and hotels; it is reported on DeLange's official website that from 1936-38 they played over 200 ballroom dates throughout New England and the Midwest, as well as the Terrace Room of the New Yorker Hotel.  Among the sidemen in the band were, at various times, Steve Lipkins (trumpet), Gus Bivona (clarinet and alto saxophone), Bus Etri (guitar), Doc Goldberg (bass), and Billy Exner (drums). But in early 1938, Hudson and DeLange decided to go their separate ways. Hudson continued on the road with a group under his own name. Eddie DeLange formed and led his own orchestra on several tours, a chance meeting with composer, Jimmy Van Heusen, resulted in a highly productive partnership which a.o. produced Deep In A Dream (1938). They had their biggest hit with Darn That Dream (1939). (info excerpted from this source)

Between 1935 and 1938, the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra, even with its extensive tour schedules, recorded more than 50 songs for Brunswick Records, many of them original compositions. Below I'll insert some examples which have been uploaded at YouTube, Here is first The Hudson-DeLange Orchestra's version of Will Hudson's Organ Grinder's Swing recorded March 20, 1936

Next video features the band's version of Bugle Call Rag recorded March 10, 1937

This recording of Bugle Call Rag was among the first which caught my attention thanks to the guitar solo by Bus Etri, the legendary guitarist best known from recordings with Charlie Barnet's orchestra. Bus Etri's contribution to big band swing is much underrepresented, however, there are three more remarkable solos with the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra presented at the Bandstand LP mentioned above. Great solo work is featured in Stardust (also recorded March 10, 1937), On The Alamo (April 8, 1938) and Hangover In Hong Kong (June 10, 1938).
Swing guitar legend Bus Etri and unknown (b)
Will Hudson's composition Sophisticated Swing was recorded March 11, 1937 issued on 78rpm: Master 103 & Brunswick 7991

On December 20 1937 the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra recorded Definition of Swing issued on 78rpm: Brunswick 8071 

To end this small presentation of a great swing big band, here is Hudson-DeLange's version of the well known standard On The Alamo recorded April 8, 1938 and issued on Brunswick 8156


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Wednesday, April 27, 2016


A couple of days ago I found out that the account for the Oscar Alemán website including Hans Koert's original OA online dicopgraphy a.o. hosted at is suspended (see previous blog entry). Unfortunately, I have not access to this account, thus, a renewal is out of my hands. Things are a bit complicated, as Hans Koert did not provide me with info how to handle a situation like this, and I now regret that I never asked, before it was too late. However, Hans Koert had a back-up of the online OA Discography uploaded at a local net-server, fortunately this version of the discography still works at my computer. Here is the link.

I cannot assure that the link works outside Europe/EUC and I would appreciate to have feed-back from readers of other regions/countries to clarify, if the mentioned link is accessible at their locations.

Visitors can contact me by using the e-mail stated below.

Until I have worked out an updated version of Hans Koert's online Oscar Alemán Discography, which may take some time, researchers of Alemán's recorded legacy have access to the latest updated info by visiting the recently published OA discography by Andrés 'Tito' Liber hosted at the weblog of Hot Club de Boedo, here 

Thanks for your support and understanding.

Jørgen Larsen

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Everything concerning Hans Koert's El Redescubrimiento de Oscar Alemán /The Rediscovery of Oscar Alemán project including the online OA Discography created by HK has suddenly vanished from the web, visitors have the following message:

*"This account has been suspended.
Either the domain has been overused, or the reseller ran out of resources."

Further, as a consequence of the suspended account the following of HKs work is also no longer available online:

Hit of The Week Discography, Durium Advertisement and Custom Records Discography, Durium (GB) Discography, the link site (Survey) and  HKs Articles index including uploaded pdf files.

Visitors get this message:

"Not Found - The requested URL /how.htm was not found on this server. Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Apache/2 Server at Port 80"

Until I find out what has happened to the mentioned websites, all further activity at the weblogs associated with the keepitswinging.doman is suspended.

Thanks for your support and understanding.

Jørgen Larsen

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Choro Day

Since the year 2000 Pixinguinha's birthday has been officially celebrated in Brazil as Dia Nacional do Choro. The 23. April this year also commemorate the official date of William Shakespeare's passing. Both Pixinguinha and Shakespeare belong to the immortal artists, Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, while Pixinguinha is considered one of the greatest Brazilian composers of popular music, particularly within the genre of music known as choro. Both men created a new language through their artistic production - here I'll concentrate on some of Pixinguinha's great works as performed today.

Pixinguinha (April 23, 1897 - February 7, 1973)
Two young musicians, Rafa Nascimento (violão 7 cordas) and Marcel Santiago (bandolim), pay their homage to Pixinguinha in this short video uploaded three days ago

From a choro festival in 2011 Luis Barcelos (bandolim) & Regional Imperial performed Pixinguinha's homage to his people - Minha Gente 

Pixinguinha's music guided the way for the contemporary conception of choro music, here's another example from the same concert - Acerto o Passo 

Pixinguinha's music is often played at concerts and rodas de choros in Brazil, his music has become part of the Brazilian people's national identity and is celebrated whenever a moment's notice is available. Here are some more examples of some of Pixinguinha's immortal pieces.


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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Oscar Alemán - TV Presentation 1975

OA in a TV Studio, Dec. 1979/Jan.1980 (photo courtesy Theo van de Graaff)
Film producer Hernán Gaffet has told about the lack of filmed material featuring Oscar Alemán during his research of material for his documentary on the Argentinian guitarist and showman. Gaffet's documentary, Vida con Swing (2002), has only small fragments of filmed sequences featuring Alemán from some of the movies in which Alemán participated and a single TV recording from the 1970s. Considering the popularity of Oscar Alemán in Argentina during the 1940s and 1950s, it's rather strange that very little of his appearance as a performer in public has been saved on film, and as TV became a common media during the 1960s the lack of filmed TV appearance of Alemán seemed to continue - the video recorder had yet to be invented, unfortunately. However, recently the Argentinan DIFilm Archive has found a small fragment from a TV performance in 1975, which I like to share here. The TV recording is without audio and was made as a promo/trailer for a program titled "Siesta" produced in 1975, the sequence lasts just 1:16 minutes but nevertheless gives us the opportunity to have a view of Alemán's stage appearance during his late career.

The video has been re-uploaded by another user of YouTube without the disturbing writing on screen and further has been added the audio of Alemán's recording of Delicado - the music is great, but really does not fit with the recorded silent moves of Alemán's playing on screen. Never mind, here's the 're-mastered' fragment


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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Squattin' At The Grotto - A 1938 Musicale

Definition of 'Squatting' (from Wikipedia):

Squatting is a posture where the weight of the body is on the feet (as with standing) but the knees are bent either fully (full or deep squat) or partially (partial, standing, half, semi, parallel or monkey squat). In contrast, sitting, involves taking the weight of the body, at least in part, on the buttocks against the ground or a horizontal object such as a chair seat. Crouching may involve squatting or kneeling. It is possible to squat with one leg and assume another position (such as kneeling) with the other leg. Among Chinese, Southeast Asian, and Eastern European adults, squatting often takes the place of sitting or standing.

Doctors and health preachers advice people to be squatting at the grotto while visiting the toilet, the guy to the right seems to have followed that advice. Now, let's get over with this definition of the meaning of 'squatting'.

William John "Bill" Harty (1899-1959) was an Irish born jazz drummer.

Born in Waterford in Ireland in 1899, Harty moved to Birmingham in England after World War I and took up the drums while working for the Dunlop Tyre Company. He played with various local bands on the early Birmingham jazz scene before deputising with an American band at the Birmingham Palais. He toured around Europe for much of the 1920s before returning to England to play with bands led by Harry Shalson, Al Starita, Jean Pougnet, Bill Gerhardi, Percival Mackey, Arthur Lally and Lew Stone. In 1934 he became the manager of Ray Noble's band, sailing to the United States with Noble later that year. He remained as Noble's manager into the 1950s (info from Wikipedia)

Columbia 35694
In March 1938 Bill Harty arranged a recording session for Columbia in Los Angeles featuring a pick-up ensemble of musicians from Jimmy Dorsey's orchestra and George and Bobby Van Eps. Bill Harty contributed as a drummer on the four sides that were recorded.

Discographical info from Tom Lord's discography (vers. 9.0), click to enlarge
According to the discographical info shown above, two of the recorded tunes were issued on Columbia 35694 while the other two were issued on Vocalion 4183. Here I'll focus on the two tunes at the Columbia 78 rpm disc containing the recording of Squattin' at the Grotto and Lock It Up on the flip side, both registered as a George Van Eps musicale. A musicale is a music program forming the main part of a social occasion, the word points to the same event as the French 'soirée musicale' and in the context of the record it may be interpreted as music for listening rather than dancing. The tune Squattin' at the Grotto is composed by John and George Van Eps and it is subtitled as a Banjo Novelty, a rather strange tune, which may be characterized as a theme with variations. The flip side of the disc featuring Lock It Up may be considered a further evaluation of the theme and structure of Squattin' including short solo spots of improvisation by trumpet, trumbone, reeds, piano, guitar and drums. The title Squattin' at the Grotto has been said to refer to a famous Chicago restaurant and club, which occasionally had Earl Hines and his orchestra as musical entertainment.

Below is inserted Squattin' at the Grotto as recorded on March 15, 1938 by the George Van Eps Ensemble

The flip side of Columbia 35694 has the recording of Lock It Up by the same ensemble

As mentioned, Squattin' at the Grotto is a somewhat strange music. When recorded in March 1938 it must have been considered this way, at least. The arrangenment, however, is great and so is the arrangement of Lock It Up. Both tunes are (co-)penned by George Van Eps,  who is the inventor of the 7-string jazz guitar and a master of this instrument. He constructed the first model in cooperation with the Epiphone company in 1938 to extend the possibilities of playing both bass lines, chords and melody line simultaneously by applying a finger picking technique. In this context you can perceive Squattin' at the Grotto and Lock It Up as examples or drafts of a way of thinking music with/for the guitar which George Van Eps would evalute later after having switched to the 7-string jazz guitar. Fact is, that an arrangement of Squattin' at the Grotto for solo guitar copyrighted 1939 exists. This arrangement of Squattin'at the Grotto, however, is to be played using plectrum chord style picking technique, and it has been recorded by Bucky Pizzarelli, another jazz guitarist who plays the 7-string guitar, using the plectrum chord style technicque.

Bucky Pizzarelli
Squattin' at the Grotto, which was released on Bucky Pizzarelli's Arbours solo album titled April Kisses, is inserted here to get an imagination of the solo guitar version of the tune

To end this I'll insert another solo guitar version of Squattin' at the Grotto featuring guitarist Brandon Azbill, who made a recently uploaded video showing how he plays the tune


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