[Dixielandjazz] Miff Mole

Jack Mitchell fjmitch at westnet.com.au
Sat Aug 29 19:00:18 PDT 2009

Bill Haesler wrote:
" All the trombone players copied the Brunies' solo, as it was
> part of the tune.
> I would be prepared to bet that the Melrose Bros. Music Co. Inc. stock 
> sheet music included it."

Possibly it does Bill, but the original sheet music (BLACK BEAUTY WHITE HEAT 
p. 89) shows the NORK as composers, and names the musicians, including Geo 
Brunies. So obviously George originated the trombone solo and Miff Mole 
copied it - and just as likely from the record as from a score, if one 
existed. End of story.

Steve Barbone wrote:
"The Brunies solo may have written out as part of the tune...similarly to 
the Picou solo on HIGH SOCIETY".

There's more to the clarinet solo than that. Far from being "a traditional 
New Orleans march" HIGH SOCIETY was written by 21 years old Porter Steele in 
1901, when Steele was at Yale University, leader of the University Orchestra 
and Band, and active in the mandolin and glee clubs. It was published that 
year by Ruby Brooks and E. J. Denton, a banjo duo, well known in 1890s on 
the vaudeville circuit. They engaged Robert Becker, leader of a pit band in 
NY city, to write the orchestration.

Becker transcribed the tune for orchestra and invented the brilliant piccolo 
part for the Trio. I can't find the details at the moment but at least two 
recordings were made of the tune in the early years of the twentieth 
century - it would be interesting and no doubt educational to hear them, and 
the piccolo part. When the orchestration reached New Orleans John Robichaux, 
then playing at Mahogany Hall, bought it, and his clarinetist Alphonse Picou 
transposed the piccolo part to his clarinet, and it became a hit. At the 
time HIGH SOCIETY was played as a slow march.

Pops Foster recalled that Bab Frank with his Peerless Band played it on the 
piccolo. George Baquet is also credited with transposing the piccolo part to 
the clarinet.  Possibly other clarinetists  around the country played the 
piccolo part on clarinet, in bands lacking a piccolo.

Whether an orchestration of HIGH SOCIETY with the clarinet solo in it was 
ever published I do not know.

Most of the above information was published in The JOURNAL OF JAZZ STUDIES 
back in June 1975. Earlier the derivation of HIGH SOCIETY was also discussed 
in early copies of RECORD RESEARCH.

Best wishes
Jack Mitchell

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