Sunday, May 6, 2007

Jazz In New Orleans - George Brunis / Pete Fountain - Southland Records

Jazz In New Orleans - George Brunis / Pete Fountain

1954 Southland Records S-LP 210 Stereo / LP-210 Mono

Side One - George Brunis And His Dixieland All-Stars
1. Bugle Rag Call
2. Closer Walk With Thee
3. Alice Blue Gown
4. Down In Jungle Town

Side Two - Pete Fountain And His Three Coins
1. Cherry
2. Struttin' With Bar-B-Q
3. Home
4. Song Of The Wanderer

Liner Notes:

George Brunis And His Dixieland All-Stars (Side One)

George Brunis Trombone
Teddy Buckner Trumpet
Matty Matlock Clarinet
Roy Zimmerman Piano
Johnny Edwards Drums
Chink Martin Tuba-String Bass
Sister Elizabeth Eustis Vocal On Closer Walk

Two great interlocking names in New Orleans Jazz are Mares and Brunies. There is always something important happening when members of these two great Jazz families get together. When George Brunies first went to Chicago to join the Rhythm Kings, he borrowed the fare from Mr. Joseph Mares. (Mr. Mares, Senior, that is - not the Southland impresario.) With the great Dixieland trumpet star, Paul Mares, George produced the great early classics of Jazz.

Little Joe Mares didn't grow up fast enough, and Paul and fabulous Rappolo passed on too soon for Joe to realize his early ambition of getting this greatest of all front lines together on waxings of his own. He didn't let this opportunity slip by, though, to capture the Brunies sound in that unique Southland manner that seems to serve up each new hot platter in incomparable home style. So this new Mares-Brunies merger, (Joe recorded the late Abbie Brunies very successfully, you'll recall ...) was destined for success the instant George walked into the studio - but what came out exceeded all expectations!

Brunies is easily at the top of his form, matching the peaks of his NORK and Spanier Ragtime days. Ted Buckner and the very professional Matty Matlock on trumpet and clarinet, respectively, fill out a polished front line for George - and display some outstanding virtuosity, especially on "Down in Jungle Town".

It took this session, too, to give the youthful septuagenarian Chink Martin an opportunity to separate the men from the boys on bass and tuba. Reunited on wax with George Brunies for the first time in 30 years, Chink steps out and claims his place as the most accomplished and tasteful of all bass players anywhere. Johnny Edwards, drumming is intelligent and occasionally exciting - and that exceptional piano man, Roy Zimmerman, working freely for a change, without having to worry about covering for inferior musicians, is down to earth and solid as we've rarely heard him.

Vocal enthusiasts will find something new to be excited about in Sister Elizabeth Eustis, who's authentic New Orleans spiritual style graces the lyrics of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" - and Chink on that tuba in the background - oh, man!

- Al Rose

Pete Fountain And His Three Coins (Side Two)

Pete Fountain Clarinet-Tenor Sax
Roy Zimmerman Piano
Johnny Edwards Drums
Phil Darois Bass

Seldom indeed, does any musician attain such virtuosity to be rated by his audience (and other musicians) as one of the best in the business. Even more rare is it when the same man is able to qualify for top honors on two instruments. But do not let our enthusiasm influence you. Let the music within these grooves talk for itself, and Pete will prove just this point on both clarinet and sax.

Growing from the ranks of "The Junior Dixieland Band", Pete adolescently displayed his wares before a tolerant but enthusiastic N.O. Jazz Club some seven years ago. The stature of this musician has forced itself among the ranks of the all-time greats of jazz in less than a decade.

Combining the mellowness of tone and extreme good taste of Fazzola, the technical skill of Benny Goodman and the gut-bucket style of Edmond Hall, Mr. Fountain has developed a style all his own on the clarinet. Switching over to tenor saxophone, he then proceeds to demonstrate that Eddie Miller and Bud Freeman had better look to their laurels.

Joe Mares has made a particularly fine selection in professional and solemn-looking Roy Zimmerman as pianist. Roy has been perfect foil for many of the greatest lead men in the business, and lays down a solid platform upon which Pete may strut. His chording, plus the ability to embroider beautifully when his own turn comes renders Mr. Zimmerman invaluable in such a "tight" little outfit.

Phil Darios, using his string bass to perfection, enhances the sound of the band by laying down a big, round tone alongside Zim's left hand. Also an excellent tuba man, Phil sometimes employs the upward slanting chords of this wind instrument on the string bass to increase the interest and attention of the listener.

The choice of drummer Johnny Edwards (no relation to Daddy Edwards of ODJB fame) has been most fortunate. His good taste and delicate handling of the rhythm in such a small combo is beautifully adequate, yet completely unobtrusive. You "feel" the rhythm rather than concentrate on the drum beats and it all winds up as a very fine blend. Not once does he let the music lag, nor does he hurry it along.

Altogether, it is a happy combination, which is even more enhanced by one the best recording job that Joe Mares has done. Be sure to obtain at least two or more copies, so that you may play one all you want - but make certain to stash away one of the others, for you can mark it down as a "Collectors' Item" of tomorrow. Southland is proud to have been the first to record Pete Fountain fronting his own combination from Southland and New Orleans to the Jazz World.

- DR. Edmond Souchon

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