This record, a split release on Grey Gull’s Madison label, one of the later issues on the label, is interesting for a number of reasons. The first thing that sticks out about it is the color. Rather than the typical black, or slightly less typical red, it is pressed in dark brown shellac, one of several atypical shades used by Madison (though you can’t see that here thanks to the limitations of my format, so I suppose you’ll just have to take my word for that part). Most interesting, though, is the unusual pairing of songs; popular fox-trot on one side, and hot jazz on the other. This record is one of a handful of super hot jazz records made by Grey Gull in their later years, many of which could be considered among the hottest jazz put to record.
Madison 5098 was recorded in two separate sessions in New York City, the first side in December of 1929 (the precise date being unknown), and the second on January 30, 1930. As was often the case with records produced by the Grey Gull company, the “B” side was also released on a number of other labels, appearing on Grey Gull and Globe 1839, Radiex 923, and Van Dyke 81839, while this one appears to be the only release of the “A” side.
On side “A”, you find an elegant sweet dance band rendition of the classic “Confessin’ (That I Love You)” by Lew (or more commonly “Lou”) Gold and his Orchestra, with a vocal refrain by popular studio vocalist Paul Small. Turn the record over however, and you’ll find something quite different…
On the reverse, you’re greeted by a red hot roaring Harlem jazz number by a band under a rather typical Grey Gull pseudonym, “Tuxedo Syncopators”. In actuality, it is stride pianist Cliff Jackson and his Crazy Kats (as their name appeared on non-pseudonymous record labels, i.e. not “Krazy Kats”), a band once considered one of the hottest in Harlem, who played at the Lenox Club on 652 Lenox Ave, a popular night spot for members of Duke Ellington’s orchestra.
“Horse Feathers” was the first recorded side at the first session by the Krazy Kats, who include, besides Cliff Jackson at the piano, Henry Goodwin playing exceptionally hot trumpet and singing the amazing scat vocal, Melvin Herbert on second trumpet, Waymon “Noisy” Richardson on trombone, Rudy Powell on clarinet and alto sax, Earl Evans on alto sax, Horace Langhorn providing tenor saxophone, Andy Jackson on banjo, Percy Johnson on the drums, and Chester Campbell providing the romping tuba bass. This is take “A” of two existing takes.
Updated on June 24, 2016 and June 13, 2018, and with improved audio on July 16, 2017.