From the Record Shelves #48

Bugle Call Rag

Collector’s Classic CC 14

As I remember it, it was quite a shock when I put on this record for the first time. I didn’t expect such playing in 1932 with a small group playing a free improvised ensemble. I suppose that Eddie Condon plays an important role in the organization of these all star sessions of pure jazz music.

That Henry “Red” Allen was an ace on trumpet had been proved through the records of Luis Russell’s great band, but that he had a partner up to his level in Pee Wee Russell came as a big surprise.

Furthermore we have a great piano player, Joe Sullivan and an inspired string instrument team in Condon, banjo and Jack Bland, guitar. Did I forget someone? Yes, a very important cause of the extraordinary swing in the performance is the rock steady bass playing by Al Morgan, and then drummer Zutty Singleton who is allowed to use his whole set here.

Billy Banks is the nominal leader, and he sings on every tune except this the first one. Bugle Call Rag with it’s harmonically simple two themes has been a favorite among musicians before and after this, but in 1932 there are just a few recordings of it.

The session is done in New York and bears traces from the style of both New Orleans and Chicago where the musicians had started their respective careers, but I would say that the music that came out of this blending of strong personalities has a style of its own.