From the Record Shelves #155

The Basement Blues

LP Classic Jazz Masters CJM 22

While listening to this LP, I reflected about the magnificent photo on the cover. It’s said to have been taken in Paris 1929, but that doesn’t fit since I recognize Tommy Ladnier playing his trumpet there, and he was not in their line-up in 29. I took out my copy of Dan Vernhettes and Bo Lindströms book about Ladnier. They have sorted out the details about the photo, and it’s taken at a gig in a railway station, Gare des Invalides, where two bands, Noble Sissle’s and Dave Peyton’s got together in 1930.

One of the trumpet players present, Arthur Briggs, has identified most of the musicians, but he gave the wrong year. Strangely, the photo in the book seems to be taken at the same moment, with same positions and same smiles from the participants, but from another angle. There you see that they had three trumpets and two trombones.

The tune that we hear was recorded in New York when the band had returned in 1931. We hear Arthur Briggs on trumpet first, then Sissle, a skilled entertainer takes the vocal after which Tommy Ladnier and Sidney Bechet do their specialty, to play the blues.

Both of the New Orleans musicians soon left Sissle’s orchestra. Maybe because it was too commercial, or maybe because the band leader didn’t tolerate their drinking. We can only speculate about this.