Thanks to WeirdWildRealm for the back story on a video performance that knocks me out every time I see it — Duke Ellington & His Orchestra performing “V.I.P.’s Boogie” (fused to “Jam with Sam“) in a 1951 Snader transcription film:
Harry Carney: bass clarinet Jimmy Hamilton: clarinet Wade Cook: trumpet Paul Gonsalves: tenor sax Britt Woodman: trombone Russell Procope: alto sax Cat Anderson: trumpet Quentin Jackson: toilet-plunger mute trombone Willie Smith: alto sax Louis Bellson: drums Wendell Marshall: bass
For the most part, these transcriptions, says WeirdWildRealm, “were recycled into sets of Snader & Studio telescriptions for syndication to television in half-hour bites, as trumped up concerts of sundry performers filmed between 1950 and 1954. These always added an emcee (Willie Bryant) and comedians to connect the mini-movies into a whole.”
Furthermore, these soundtracks “were tinkered with a bit to provide audience reactions and ‘curtains’ were added, all designed to give the impression of concerts at the Apollo Theater, which, though unconvincing, has nevertheless fooled a lot of people ever since. Duke’s portion were actually filmed at California Studios in Los Angeles.”
Columbia did issue a 10-inch single in 1952 of “V.I.P.’s Boogie” b/w with “Jam with Sam” that was recorded at the almighty label’s New York City studio on May 10, 1951.
I had a nice laugh when I realized that this fiery little instrumental in the key of C was, indeed, not the world’s first waltz to be played outside of 3/4 time but instead an error in the track listing on the album jacket. Thus, despite this song being listed as “Gravy Waltz,” I’m pretty certain this is actually the next track in the album’s running order — the jazz standard, “C Jam Blues” by Duke Ellington:
[Pssst: Click the triangle above to play “C Jam Blues” as interpreted by Vassar Clements & Friends.]
Track comes from 1974’s double album, Hillbilly Jazz, by the “Father of Hillbilly Jazz” himself, Vassar Clements – who first appeared on the Grand Old Opry in 1949 fiddling with Bill Monroe – joined by D.J. Fontana on drums, Doug Jernigan on steel, David Bromberg on guitar, and other musical friends.
Vassar Clements: Fiddle, Viola & Vocals D.J. Fontana: Drums Doug Jernigan: Steel Guitar, Resonator Guitar David Bromberg: Guitar Michael Melford: Guitar, Mandolin & Piano Ellis Padgett: String Bass Kenneth Smith: Electric Bass Benny Kennerson: Piano Gordon Terry: Vocals
Hillbilly Jazz was issued on Flying Fish. While Clements’ music mostly enjoyed release on independent, folk-oriented labels (Rounder, Old Homestead, Mind Dust, Flying Fish), Vassar did manage to release a few 45s on a couple major labels of note:
Reissue label Razor & Tie did a public service in 1999 when they rescued a wonderful instrumental that had remained unissued for over 30 years – just sitting on a master tape of a 1965 Nashville recording session by country singer, Ferlin Husky. Very little is known about the musicians who did this blazing hillbilly jazz version of “Caravan” except that the steel player is almost certainly Curly Chalker. Surprisingly tight arrangement and crisp ending for something that was simply considered a between-song “jam”:
This previously unissued recording courtesy of Swing West – Volume 2: Guitar Slingers.