[Dixielandjazz] King Oliver 1923

David W. Littlefield dwlit@cpcug.org
Tue, 13 Aug 2002 14:42:57 -0400

I've been lately on transcribing lead sheets from 1923 King Oliver
records--using John RT Davies' 2-CD collection on Retrieval (RTR 79007),
which is the latest reissue; Robert Parker's "King Oliver, vol. 1" (check
Worlds Records for availability); and checking some passages with Peruna
Jazzmen "Plays the music of King Oliver" (GHB BCD-436).

Now doing "Weather Bird Rag". This is an incredible piece that wonderfully
illustrates the virtues and possibilities--and difficulties--of New Orleans
ensemble jazz. To be sure, it's definitely played using a detailed
arrangement: 4 horns, lots of notes very tightly harmonized and equally
tightly played, quite fast; certain measures repeated 2 or more times note
for note (other measures in the same sections are similar but not exactly
reproduced). The virtuosity of the horns is breathtaking.

It's too bad that the accoustic recording often gets in the way of one's
full enjoyment of the music. But this is aided by Parker's stereoization,
which I think improves the sound, and also helps occasionally by separating
the 2 cornets to some extent.

The Peruna Jazzmen album--20 tracks, all from 1923--demonstrates that
recreationism is indeed a valid approach, being so well done that it raises
the Oliver tunes from the "dead" and may considered a reasonable substitute
for the originals.

FYI I'm using a box called "Backtrak", which records 30s of music and
allows me to play it over and over...and over at 2/3, 1/2, 1/3 speeds, at
the same pitch as the record. Needless to say, listening to the very
scratchy "Chimes blues" at 1/3 speed (so I can catch individual notes by
the muted horns that are often masked by the tbn and clarinet) is true
audio torture...
David W. Littlefield, Piano, Guitar, Banjo, Washboard
Compiler: "Dixieland FB" (Bb, C); "30S-40S FB (Bb, C)"; "Gig Book"
http://cpcug.org/user/dwlit (Dixie playalong list, other tools)  
http://americanmusiccaravan.com (Fake Books, Sound Clips, public performances)
eMail: dwlit@cpcug.org