Saturday, March 22, 2008

Freddy Taylor March 1935 Sessions


During his stay in Europe, Oscar Alemán was a regular member of Josephine Baker's orchestra on and off throughout the 1930s - on her tours he even was musical director of the 16 piece band, The Baker Boys. When not performing with Baker, Alemán had a 'second career' as a freelance musician (i.e. with the Jean, Jac & Jo vocal trio, also members of the Josephine Baker organisation) besides leading his own bands in Paris and taking part in gigs and recording sessions by others as well. Around 1935 Alemán had the guitar chair for some time in the orchestra led by the American entertainer and bandleader, Freddy Taylor.


Freddy Taylor was a black tap dancer, singer, trumpeter and entertainer, who had come to Paris with the Lucky Millinder orchestra during the band's 1933 tour of Europe. Taylor stayed in Paris and soon formed his own band, which he named Freddy Taylor & His Swing Men From Harlem. At the same time Taylor was running his own club at Montmartre and often left the band on its own while he worked as a soloist throughout the Continent. In Paris Taylor recorded as a vocalist with Django Reinhardt and the QHCF in 1936 - these sides belong to his most well known, scholars of the QHCF recorded legacy probably will mention "Nagasaki" and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" as core examples, both recorded 1936. However, Freddy Taylor also recorded with his own group, the Swing Men From Harlem, in March 1935.




The two sides recorded by Freddy Taylor And His Swing Men From Harlem in March 1935 contain "Blue Drag" (mx 77285) and " Viper's Dream" (mx 77286), released on a 78 rpm disc by the Ultraphone label, Ultraphone AP-1489. Discographical listed personnel of the band as follows: Freddy Taylor (dir,vo,tp), Charlie Johnson (tp), Arthur “Chester” Lanier (cl, as, bars), Fletcher Allen (cl, ts), Oscar Alemán (g), Eugène d’Hellemmes (b), William Diemer (dm).

The recorded music on both sides features execellent moments of 1930s Euro-American swing with great contributions by the reeds, only "Blue Drag" has vocal by Taylor. These sides are also notable and worth mentioning regarding Alemán, although he does not solo in this session. These two sides are the first recorded sides featuring Oscar Alemán in a regular jazz setting, and you can clearly hear his contribution as a solid rhythm guitar player behind the soloists - Alemán's prefered instrument at this time, the metal body National tricone guitar is easily detected as a propelling drive of the rhythm section.


In the Oscar Alemán online discography another session from March 1935 featuring Freddy Taylor And His Swing Men From Harlem is also listed - only test recordings of the four performed tunes exist. These are "Mama Don't Allow It", "Blue Drag", "Swanee River" and "How Come You Do Me Like You Do?". According to available discographical info the personnel is the same as listed above, although there has been some discussion regarding Alemán's participation.

Thanks to a collector, Yves Francois, who kindly forwarded a copy on cdr of "Swanee River" and "How Come You Do Me Like You Do?", it can now be determained from actual listening to the music that Oscar Alemán does NOT participate as the guitar player on the mentioned two test sides. The rhythm playing and the couple of short solos by the guitar are definitely not by Alemán - the guitar is most probably handled by Django Reinhardt, as the riffs and solo work bear all the well known trademarks of the gypsy guitar style of Reinhardt from this period. I guess the remaining two test sides from the same session also have Reinhardt as the guitar player, but I encourage readers with more knowledge and available audio evidence to forward further info to solve this discographical puzzle.

Jo

7 Comments:

Blogger Heinz said...

I have the two recordings.
Viper's Dream and Blue Drag

It is Oscar Aleman

All the best

Heinz

1:32 PM  
Anonymous yves francois said...

it as interesting that, at first i thought it was aleman, due to the greater swing in the music. on listening to it further this past year, i was somewhat puzzled, for certain phrases are of django, while others bear a certain influence of oscar aleman. i guess this would mean that delauney was correct about this session after all. too bad that the ultraphone 78 does not have aleman solos, for aleman is a very mature soloist on the 1936 titles with bill coleman in the jazz vein. the rhythmic differences between the two are major, and it could be said that the questuioning re weather this was django or oscar may of been that while django was learning jazz, he and oscar jammed together and a bit rubbed off on mr reinhardt (and that the swing of this band is a thousand times more powerful than playing with vola, stephan and cohorts) so of corse django would conform (somewhat) to the impetus of this particular rhythm section and thier phraseology. this data should be sent to the label fremeaux and others as well (for the other 2 titles would probably be reissued if it is felt that it is django ,he has a very large fan base), now can we hope for airshots of the taylor live with aleman (and bill coleman, the taylor band did broadcast a bit). it has to be said that it was criminal that oscar was so under recorded in a jazz setting in paris, while django recorded so much (i am a great fan of django, but remember paris also had in the 1930's such excellent musicians like don baretto, the ferret family ,django's brother joseph ,pollo malahel, claude martial and esp oscar aleman all performing excellent jazz and related forms) regards and thank you, yves francois

4:20 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

A small question of interest to discographers, I guess: Who is the piano player on " Viper's Dream" (mx 77286) from March 1935?
Please, forward your info or proposal to solve this question as well.

Jo

10:43 PM  
Blogger Durium said...

I think Hans and Jo's contribution to this is very important, and I feel of paramount importance on defining who is on the test pressings of these 1935 records by Freddy Taylor's band. For those who do not know of these recordings, Ultraphone (probably) did 4 tests (or maybe more) around the time of the Ultraphone 78 of "Blue Drag"/"Viper's Dream" in 1935 by Freddy Taylor.
Charles Delauney posted about 4 tests with Django in place of Oscar Aleman in his discography, but lists a piano player (none is present on the 2 I have heard on the Fremeaux CD's). The tests (or another series of
tests?) were found, and Fremeaux issued 2 of them ("Swanee River" on Vol 3 of the complete Django, and "How Come You Do Me Like You Do" on Vol 20). They show a guitarist who sounds a lot like Django, but has more rhythmic impetus than on the Quintet recordings, leading certain people to believe it was Aleman (including for a time myself when I first heard "Swanee River"). Oscar and Django liked to jam together at this time period as well (and Oscar on occasion would replace Django on a gig if Django was not around), and perhaps, some of this rubbed off on Django's rhythm playing (as well as the strong rhythm section of the Taylor band, a band considered by Coleman Hawkins to be the most swinging in Europe, along with Bobby Martin's). Read the blog regarding this, I was totally on the fence on "Swanee" but doubted Oscar being on "How Come..." due to the tell tale vibrato of Django on the solo, but when it comes to such matters, I felt the need for experts on Aleman to come forth (I'll vouch for anything with Teddy Bunn, no one plays even close to him). Read the blog (and others by Hans and Jo, it is always interesting and informative) regards Yves Francois

12:56 PM  
Blogger Nebraska BlogGrass said...

PACIFIC 91 607 B Med.
Bill Coleman
"What's the Reason" and "Georgia on my Mind." Credits
Bill Coleman
Stephane Grappally
Joseph Reinhardt

Side 2
Frddie Taylor
"Viper's Dream" and "Blue Drag"
Charlie Johnson
Chester Lanier
Fletcher Allen
Oscar Aleman
Eugene d'Hellemes
William Diemer

http://www.unl.edu/tcweb/fowler/the_project/4byColemanTaylor.mp3

4:50 PM  
Blogger John Pale said...

Thank you guys so much, have been looking for too long for this!

If there are more albums from Freddy, please let me know!

thanks!

John Pale

4:15 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Does anyone have lyrics for viper's dream?

12:40 AM  

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