From the Record Shelves #255


78 rpm Brunswick 3850-B

Paul Whiteman had a smash hit with Whispering in 1920. The record features an element of novelty effect, which is a chorus of slide whistle. By 1928, it was time for a revival of the song and a modernized version. Typically, Red Nichols and his Five Pennies recorded contemporary songs, jazz compositions by members of his group and, as here, older material dressed in new, often a bit tricky, arrangements.

After the introduction, the first chorus is collectively improvised in what we have come to call Dixieland style. The verse follows, tightly arranged, and then a glorious solo that in the book “Red Head- A chronological survey of ‘Red’ Nichols and His Five Pennies” by Stepen M. Stroff (1996) is called an “outstanding Mole solo—one of his few that shows the influence of Jack Teagarden,” referring to trombonist Miff Mole.

On the other hand, another expert, Dick Sudhalter, commented in 2007: “Whispering gives a chance at a solo spotlight to the seldom-heard Dudley Fosdick,” now referring to the instrumentalist that played mellophone with Nichols on the date. I’d like to hear more views on this!

Next, we hear Joe Venuti on violin and Fud Livingston on tenor sax before it’s Nichol’s turn. His somewhat square phrasing is, from my point of view, forgiven and seen as his own style, and still very pleasing to the ear thanks to his nice sound and his command over his instrument.

He’s given a half-chorus before a collective ending.