Friday, February 20, 2015

Joe Louis Stomp

Joe Louis, The Brown Bomber
Joe Louis (1914–1981), known as the Brown Bomber, was the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion from 1937 to 1949 holding the title longer than anyone else in boxing history. A career profile is available here

Bill Coleman (1904-1981)
Trumpeter Bill Coleman composed and recorded a swing tune as a homage to the rising boxing star in January 1936, Joe Louis Stomp. At that time Bill Coleman resided in Paris, France, where he had been engaged by Freddy Taylor late 1935 as a member of Taylor's orchestra, but already in 1933 Coleman had been in France as a member of Lucky Millinder's orchestra, and this time he would stay in Paris as his residence until 1940. During this period Bill Coleman also had his own orchestra in Paris that had regular performances at a venue called Villa d'Este, members were  Bill Coleman (tp, ldr), Eugène d' Ellemmes (b), Edgar "Spider" Courance (ts, cl), Oscar Alemán (g) and William Diemer (dm) as shown at the picture below (l to r)
Bill Coleman Et Son Orchestre De La Villa D'Este, c.1936
On January 31th, 1936 Bill Coleman and his Orchestra recorded 'Joe Louis Stomp' in Paris, it was issued on a 78 rpm disc at the French Gramophone label, a devsion of HMV, as the A-side (mx. OLA-851-1, Gramophone (HMV) K-7705), while the B-side had a recording of the tune 'Coquette' (mx. OLA-852-1, Gramophone (HMV) K-7705).
Gramophone (HMV) K-7705
The Coleman quintet is extended to a sextet in this recording, John (Jean) Ferrier is added as the piano player - remaining personnel as mentioned above. 'Joe Louis Stomp' is a great swing tune, both Coleman and Edgar Courance have great solo spots, but here we should also focus on Oscar Alemán's 16 bar guitar solo. This is in fact the first swing/jazz solo recorded by Alemán. It is documenting an already mature and personal style that distinguishes him from other guitarists at the time. Enjoy the tune as recorded on January 31th, 1936 in the inserted video below.

Oscar Alemán recorded and released a version of 'Joe Louis Stomp' in Buenos Aires much later, but not during his contract with Odeon from 1941 to 1957. However, during the 1960s, when he had semi-retired from the scene as a performer and recording artist after dissolving his orchestra in 1959, he was from time to time a featured guest performer in radio and TV programs accompanied by a quintet named Cinco Caballeros consisting of cl or vln, p, rh g, b and dm.
Oscar Alemán & Cinco Caballeros, 1960s
With the Cinco Caballeros Alemán performed his own arrangement of 'Joe Louis Stomp' at several live appearances in radio programs during the 1960s as documented in unissued recordings saved by keen collectors. One of the hottest versions I have heard was performed in a program at Radio el Mundo on September 2nd, 1965, inserted in the audio-video below

Note that the speaker of the program mentions Duke Ellington as the composer of the tune, although it rightly should have been Bill Coleman. However, the studio audience probably would not have cared anyway, as Bill Coleman's name and output probably was rather unknown in Argentina at the time. On the other hand, Alemán's version of the tune gets a deserved enthusiastic applause and points to the fact that 'Joe Louis Stomp' had become a part of his standard repertoire at the time. 

As mentioned, he recorded the tune much later, now in a slower and more subdued version, but still with great guitar work showing off his excellence even in his late career. The tune was recorded in September 1974 on the last LP album for the Redondel label titled 'En Todos Los Ritmos' (L-809). Alemán is accompanied by Juan José Gonzalez (cl), Dario “Johnny” Quaglia (rh g), Norberto Villa (b) and Mario Raffaelli (dm). This version has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted in the video below - a worthy contribution to mark the 106th anniversary of Oscar Alemán and a great swing jazz tune, enjoy!