[Dixielandjazz] Re: "South"

Bill Haesler bhaesler at bigpond.net.au
Thu Oct 13 19:58:14 PDT 2005

> How did Moten's "South" come into the standard Dixieland repertoire?<
Dear David,
Well now! How did you know that I would be sucked in on this one?
"South" was recorded chronologically as follows:
Bennie Moten  29 Nov 1924
Bennie Moten  7 Sept 1928
Mike Riley  26 Sept 1935
Hot Lips Page  11 Nov 1940
Woody Herman  13 Feb 1941
Kid Ory  3 Aug 1944
Lu Watters  6 May 1946 (a 1942 version remains unissued).
George Webb (UK)  9 Nov 1946
Graeme Bell (Australia)  11 April 1947
Count Basie  22-23 May 1947
Plus another 200 or so, up to the present day!
To resolve your query, I decided to telephone and ask one of the above
sources, Graeme Bell (my old mate of nearly 60 years).
His immediate reply was that they would have referred to the 1928 Bennie
Moten record. In Melbourne in those days a lawyer, William H (Bill) Miller,
was the jazz guru, with all the records one needed to know about, plus a few
you would never have known about unless you asked him. Bill had quite a few
of the Moten Victor 78s in his collection.
[I will digress for a moment to say that Bill Miller was my main jazz mentor
in the mid 1940s, as he was to the Graeme Bell band. He was an early editor
of the magazine 'Jazz Notes' and founder of another mag 'Australian Jazz
Quarterly', which he handed over to me in late 1954.]
When I suggested to Graeme (ninety-one not out and still performing) that
his band may have heard the newly released Watters' version he said that
they (the band) were only vaguely aware of the Lu Watters group prior to
their triumphant tour through Czechoslovakia, France and Britain in 1947-48.
Watters was therefore not an influence on the Bells at this time.
The Webb record uses the same slowdown in the last chorus as the Woody
Herman, pointing to a knowledge of this 1941 record.
The Ory band record on Crescent may have influenced the Americans, but we
here in Oz did not hear it until after the popular Bell 78. Which,
incidentally, sold well over 20,000 copies in Australia.
>From 1947-47 the tune then became part of the traditional jazz repertoire.
I therefore submit that that "South" was introduced independently to the
jazz revival from separate sources.
To the US West Coast by Lu Watters and Kid Ory, to Australia and Europe by
the Graeme Bell Dixieland Band and to Britain by the George Webb and Graeme
Bell bands.
Another rendition to knock us out a little later was the Pete Dailey Capitol
78 from 22 March 1949. A new take on the tune and a great record.
Now David, you may be able to answer this one.
Pete Dailey recorded a follow-up tune called "North" for Capitol on 3 March
1952 .
Someone, many years ago, told me that it was based musically on "South" - in
reverse. The chords played backwards with a melody variation made to fit.
My musical knowledge isn't good enough to confirm this, although it is
certainly based on "South". Any thoughts?
While writing this reply I played all of the early versions mentioned above
(except the Mike Riley, which I do not have).
As a matter of interest, the Lips Page and Basie versions do not use the
instrumental breaks present on both Moten records. Herman, Ory, Bell,
Watters and Webb do. A pattern, followed from then on, by most others
including Pete Dailey, the Firehouse Five + Two and Bob Scobey.
You say that Anderson gives a 1936 date for the lyrics of "South". (Not in
my copy of the index). I wonder where this date came from?
The Bob Scobey rendition (6 Nov 1951), with vocal by Clancy Hayes, is the
first, chronologically, to include the words. This Good Time Jazz record
adds a 'Ray Charles' to the Benie Moten-Thamaon Hayes composer credit, which
implies that he may be the lyricist.
Another thread?
Kind regards,


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