Capitol 101 – Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra – 1942

June 5, 2017 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the recording of the first disc ever issued by Capitol Records (though not the earliest session).

Early in the 1940s, songwriter and singer Johnny Mercer joined forces with fellow songwriter Buddy DeSylva and record store owner Glenn E. Wallichs to form a new record company.  On March 27, 1942 they incorporated as Liberty Records, which was soon changed to Capitol Records.  On April 6, they held their first session, wherein Martha Tilton recorded “Moondreams” (issued as Capitol 138).  On July 1, Capitol’s first record was released, featuring the legendary Paul Whiteman’s orchestra swinging on “I Found a New Baby” and “The General Jumped at Dawn”.  The fledgling label had its first hit with its second release, Freddy Slack’s orchestra playing “Cow Cow Boogie”, with a vocal by Ella Mae Morse.  All was not rosy however, as only one month later, the American Federation of Musicians started their 1942-44 strike, instigating a recording ban for all union musicians.  Capitol settled with the AFM on October 11, 1943, after Decca.  The ban didn’t seem to hurt Capitol too much, and they went on to become one of the major record labels from the 1940s onward, all the way into the present day.

Capitol 101 was recorded on June 5, 1942 in Los Angeles, California, and issued the next month.  It was released less than a month later on July 1, 1942.  Some sources offer different dates of recording: Rust gives May 1942, and others say April, but Capitol’s ledgers provide the June 5 date, and they should be definitive.  The personnel, according to Paul Whiteman: Pioneer in American Music, 1930-1967 (which differs slightly from Rust’s identification), is Billy Butterfield, Monty Kelly, Larry Neill, and Don Waddilove on trumpets, Phil “Skip” Layton and Murray McEachern on trombone, Alvy West and Danny d’Andrea onalto sax, Lennie Hartman and King Guion on tenor sax, Tommy Mace on baritone sax, Dave Newman, Harry Azen, and Saul Blumenthal on violins, Buddy Weed on piano, Mike Pingitore on guitar, Artie Shapiro on string bass, and Lou Paino on drums.

First, a frenetic and modern arrangement of the jazz standard “I Found a New Baby” highlights the talents of Buddy Weed at the piano.

I Found a New Baby, recorded June 5, 1942 by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra.

“The General Jumped at Dawn” is a swell swing instrumental, one of my favorite swing sides, in fact, composed and arranged by Jimmy Mundy.  The Golden Gate Quartet sang a memorable version of this tune in the classic World War II film Hollywood Canteen in 1944: “Said the captain to the general, ‘Pops, we’re gonna cause a commotion.'”  Oddly, this side gets more and more worn and muffled as it plays through, then cleans up completely in the last five seconds or so.

The General Jumped at Dawn, recorded June 5, 1942 by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra.

Capitol CE 16 – The History of Jazz, Vol. 1, The ‘Solid’ South – 1945

The History of Jazz, Vol. 1, The 'Solid' South

The History of Jazz, Vol. 1, The ‘Solid’ South

As January 20 comes to a close, so does the 128th anniversary of the birth of that great song spinner Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly.  I know of no better way to celebrate the life of such an important hero of American music than with this type of musical extravaganza.  I’ll admit that I did not realize the date until this very day, and this is a bit of a rush job, so as not to miss the occasion entirely.  I was lucky enough to find this great album set from Capitol Records at the same time as that home recording, and, featuring not only Lead Belly, but a variety of other great artists, I believe it’s perfect for the occasion.  Now, I couldn’t tell you that this set is a historically accurate history of jazz music, but it does feature some fine tunes.

The man of the hour, Lead Belly. From album’s inside cover.

Capitol CE 16 was released in early 1945, and contains five discs, a step up from the typical four.  The individual sides were recorded on the following dates: 10021 on October 4 and 27, 1944; 10022 on June 30, 1944; 10023 on June 30 and January 27, 1945; 10024 on March 7, 1944; and 10025 on January 27, 1945.  These records feature a great number of fine artists, the highlights being Lead Belly, to whom this post is dedicated, Wingy Manone, Johnny Mercer (who founded Capitol), Zutty Singleton, and many others, whose names can be found listed on the album cover pictured above.

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Happy Independence Day!

To all my friends and readers in the United States of America, happy Independence Day, and to those outside of the USA, happy Saturday!

To celebrate the 239th anniversary of our country’s independence, here are a couple of the most patriotic musical selections I could muster up for the occasion.

First, Louis Castellucci and the Capitol Band play a veritable concert of selections, the National Emblem March, Washington Post March, Lights Out, and Parade of the Wooden Soldiers on this twelve-inch made by Capitol Records around World War II.

Courtesy of the United States Armed Forces.

Armed Forces Record AFR-95, Louis Castellucci and the Capitol Band, recorded by Capitol Records (?)

As a grand finale, the Purdue Military Band of Purdue University, conducted by Professor Paul “Spotts” Emrick plays Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, recorded by RCA Victor.

The Purdue Military Band

Hail Purdue Side 3A (from set), the Purdue Military Band, recorded by the RCA Victor Company.