[Dixielandjazz] Dixielandjazz Digest, Vol 89, Issue 10
Stephen G Barbone
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat May 8 18:52:13 PDT 2010
On May 8, 2010, at 3:00 PM, dixielandjazz-request at ml.islandnet.com
> "Hans en Corrie" <koerthchkz at zeelandnet.nl>
> In a Downbeat interview from ca 1958 Pee Wee Russell remembers that
> he was
> on a recording session by Don Voorhees Orchestra for a "paper-record",
> probably Hit of the Week. Can someone scan me this interview?
Here it is Hans. The Voorhees part starts with the 7th paragraph.
Pee Wee on 'The Old Days'
An Exclusive Online Extra
When Esoteric Records releases a stereophonic LP by Pee Wee Russell
and his group later this month, it will mark some sort of a recording
landmark for the jaunty clarinetist.
For Charles Ellsworth Russell goes back to the days of acoustic
"Back in the early '20s," Pee Wee recalled, "we recorded into big
horns. Each of us had a big horn with a rope on it, so we could pull
it down to our level.
"I remember once going through a take without pulling down the rope
and being puzzled that the clarinet didn't come through at all. Milt
Mole finally called it to my attention."
In the early days of electrical recording, Russell said, the drums
gave technicians all kinds of trouble.
"Dave Tough used to sit back about three lengths from the band. We'd
all pile our overcoats on the bass drum. Even so, the sound would
sometimes make the needle jump."
Russell recalled the days of paper records, some of which he cut with
Don Voorhees and his orchestra.
"We did an experiment," he laughed. "The saxes faced a wall and played
against it. We had to turn around to get the beat from Don. These
records were slipped into newspapers or given away, but I don't think
they were very successful."
In all the years he's been recording, through countless studios and
with scores of bands and groups, Pee Wee's distinctive, subtle sound
has been a highlight.
"I don't think a clarinet player should scream all the time," he said.
"It's great to be able to do it when it's needed.
"But I think he should utilize the whole horn -- the middle and the
lower registers, too. An awful lot of fellows should do that. I don't
say they couldn't, but from what I hear, I don't think they do.
"If you give a change of pace once in a while, the public will realize
that the clarinet isn't a screaming, loud instrument."
As recorded sound has improved and broadened, Pee Wee's often harsh,
often whispering, always delightful clarinet has been captured with
more and more realism. The subtleties which too often escape a
listener at a club or concert now come through with a clarity which
often startles his fans.
On the Esoteric date, Russell was recorded in stereo for LPs, thus
spanning virtually all the eras of recording, including tape.
"Things have changed a lot since I first started to play," Pee Wee
said. "In those days, anything resembling jazz was considered more or
less noise. But the leaders of country-club orchestras and dance bands
always wanted some jazz players in their bands, so they could slip in
a hot solo or two on the public. Maybe they figured they'd educate them.
"That happens today, too. But things are shoved down our throats. If
people hear some things on the radio, they think they must be good.
"But being young today has its advantages. There are so many different
types of music to listen to today. A youngster can take something from
here and something from there and mold it together with his own
talent. There's no reason why he shouldn't develop.
"And there's so much more opportunity for schooling. Way back there,
we didn't have those opportunities. In smaller towns, the local
teacher or the best musician in town were the ones who would give you
lessons. There were recordings--if you were fortunate enough to hear
them. But there were not as many different types of music to listen to."
Pee Wee was born in St. Louis, Mo., 52 years ago. He took his first
lessons on clarinet there, and continued his studies at Western
Military academy and the University of Missouri.
Early in his professional life, he spent a year working in Mexico. He
acquired his nickname "because I seemed to always be around a big
bunch of bruisers. I got shoved around until I could take care of
He played riverboats, barnstormed the west and midwest with various
bands and groups, and although somehow generally connected with the
Chicago scene, Russell will admit, "I'm not from Chicago. I know where
it is, though. It's a big town about 300 mil
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