From the Record Shelves #93

How Many Times?

Halcyon HAL. 16

A compilation of more or less well known American dance bands from the 1920s. The usual way for me to use an LP like this is as background music in the morning. Like a ray of sunshine it makes me come in a good mood by means of the melodious music, well arranged with a few ear catching solos thrown in.

Today I pick out one number to listen to with more concentration. The band is called Seattle Harmony Kings. The arrangement is typical for a stock arrangement, which were charts written by skilled staff arrangers like Frank Skinner and Arthur Lange to serve hundreds or even thousands of orchestras all over the US.

After an introduction the saxophone trio exposes the melody with comments from the brass. Thereafter, the melody is taken over by muted brass for half a chorus followed by straight open trombone and then all play the verse. Then we hear an alto saxophone solo for a chorus shared with a clarinet trio. Then a somewhat complicated interlude before the last “out” chorus that has a freely improvising clarinet player to heighten the intensity.

The clarinet and alto sax soloist may be the same or two different men and there are two possible candidates.

Rosy McHargue is one of them, a musician who played with too many bands to mention all, but earlier than this recording (1926) he played shortly with the Wolverines, and later with Frank Trumbauer and Ted Weems. His career lasted well into the 1990s!

The other possible player of the improvised parts is Artie Seaberg, a reed player with roots from Gotland, Sweden that just came out of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, and who was a good friend of Bix Beiderbecke at the time. Both men were in the Seattle Harmony Kings’ reed section.

The tune was written by Irving Berlin, the icon of the American Song Book.