From the Record Shelves #144

Stompin’ at the Savoy

LP Affinity AFFD 118

It’s a small group assembled around the genius Art Tatum at the piano. In the rhythm section we find John Collins, guitar, Billy Taylor, bass and Eddie Dougherty on drums. In this session from New York 1941 they play three numbers in the blues form plus this one. Big Joe Turner is singing on two. It’s a very concentrated atmosphere, which I think brings out the best in the two soloists beside Tatum. Edmond Hall plays a fine, well constructed solo on clarinet.

But it is the trumpet solo by Joe Thomas that is extraordinary. A long time ago, I don’t remember where, I read an analysis of this and could only agree. The way he is taking his chance to “talk” to us is something more besides swinging and going through the changes with control. He starts in an unexpected way and builds around that idea, free from the original melody, and the way he sets a new rhythm is quite advanced.

Outside the studio, Joe Thomas (1909-1984) led his own small band or played in groups led by pianists James P. Johnson and Teddy Wilson. He is another fine trumpet player coming out of St. Louis.

The tune by Benny Goodman and Edgar Sampson may also be inspiring to play and contributes to the fine performance.