Decca 8659 – Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five – 1944

I was finally able to get a computer working to transfer my records, after the one I was using kicked the bucket, so I’m now able to post this iconic record of the 1940s.  Consider it an encore to yesterday’s performance.  However, I must ask one kind favor from all of you people, if you think this audio has a sort of high-pitched tone or crackle (other than the record’s own noise) in the background, or otherwise sounds inferior from my usual transfers, please tell me, so I can take action in bringing it back up to par should it be necessary.

Decca 8659 was recorded on March 15, 1944 and October 4, 1943, respectively.  Recordings made in 1943 are fairly uncommon, as the American Federation of Musicians began a strike that resulted in a recording ban on July 31, 1942, and lasted through most of 1943.  Decca had only settled with the union the month before this recording was made.

First up, it’s Louis Jordan’s take on Johnny Mercer’s World War II classic, “G. I. Jive”.

G.I. Jive

G. I. Jive, recorded March 14, 1944 by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five.

Next is Jordan’s famous “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t (Ma’ Baby)”, another classic song of that era, and carried on to many in younger generations by way of the 1946 Tom and Jerry cartoon Solid Serenade.

Is You Is or Is You Ain't (Ma' Baby)

Is You Is or Is You Ain’t (Ma’ Baby), recorded October 4, 1943 by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five.

Decca 23741 – Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five – 1946

Well, I had planned to put up “G.I. Jive”, backed with “Is You is or is You Ain’t (My Baby)” for Louis Jordan’s birthday today, but tragically, my transferring computer met its untimely demise.  Since I haven’t been able to repair it or procure a functioning replacement, here’s the only Louis Jordan record I already had transferred, it’s a good one, too.

Louis Thomas Jordan was born July 8, 1908 in Brinkley, Arkansas, his father was a music teacher and bandleader with the famous Rabbit Foot Minstrels.  He learned to play clarinet as a child and played in his father’s band.  Jordan majored in music at Arkansas Baptist College, and eventually made his way to New York, where he played with Clarence Williams in 1932.  In 1936, Jordan began playing in Chick Webb’s orchestra at the Savoy Ballroom, sometimes performing as a vocalist.  He was kicked out of the band in 1938 for attempting to poach members for his own band.  That same year, he started the band that would become his famous Tympany Five, which first recorded for Decca as “Louie Jordon’s Elks Rendezvous Band”.  During and after World War II, Jordan and his Tympany Five became a driving force in the development of the jump blues and rhythm and blues genres, as well as one of the top-selling “race” artists.  Changing tastes in the 1950s brought about a decline in his popularity, though he continued to record and perform into the 1960s.  Louis Jordan died from a heart attack in 1975.

Decca 23741 was recorded June 26, 1946 in New York City by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five.

The classic “Let the Good Times Roll” is credited on the label as being composed by Spo-de-ode and Fleecie Moore.  Spo-de-ode was a pseudonym for the song’s co-writer, Sam Theard, who was also responsible for “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You” fifteen years earlier (though the authorship of that song was contested by Cow Cow Davenport).  Fleecie Moore was Louis Jordan’s wife, who was credited in order to circumvent his contractual restrictions on publishing songs.

Let the Good Times Roll

Let the Good Times Roll, recorded June 26, 1946 by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five.

On the reverse, Louis sings another classic, “Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens”.  This song was popularized in the latter day by its inclusion in the video game L.A. Noire.

Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens

Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens, recorded June 26, 1946 by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five.

 

Decca 1840 – Chick Webb and his Orchestra – 1938

Ella Fitzgerald in the late 1930s. From Jazzmen, 1938.

Ella Fitzgerald in the late 1930s. From Jazzmen, 1939.

In the mood for a bit of swing?  I hope so, because today we celebrate birthday of the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald.

Ella was born April 25, 1917 in Newport News, Virginia.  She moved north to Yonkers during the Great Migration.  After falling on hard times as a teenager during the Great Depression, she entered an amateur night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.  Though she originally intended to dance at the show, after feeling intimidated by another dance act, she sang instead, imitating the style of her favorite singer, Connie Boswell, and won the twenty-five dollar prize.  In 1935, Chick Webb reluctantly took her on as a vocalist in his band, which she stayed with for the remainder of the decade.  When Webb succumbed to his illness in 1939, Ella took over the band, recording under her own name.  After Webb’s band broke up, she continued to record as a solo artist, and the rest as they say, is history.  After a life of music, her health declined in the 1980s, and Ella Fitzgerald died comfortably in her home on June 15, 1996, her final words were, “I’m ready to go now.”

Decca 1840 was recorded in two sessions in May of 1938, the first on the second and the second on the third.  The band consists of Mario Bauza, Bobby Stark, and Taft Jordan on trumpet, George Matthews, Nat Story, and Sandy Williams on trombone, Garvin Bushell on clarinet and alto sax, Louis Jordan (yes, that Louis Jordan) on alto sax, Teddy McRae, and Wayman Carver on tenor sax, Tommy Fulford on piano, Bobby Johnson on guitar, Beverly Peer on string bass, and Chick Webb on drums.

Ella’s first big hit was “A-Tisket A-Tasket”, which she and Al Feldman adapted as a pop tune.  The arrangement was written by the recently departed Van Alexander.

A-Tisket A-Tasket

A-Tisket A-Tasket, recorded May 2, 1938 by Chick Webb and his Orchestra.

The label of the flip-side “Liza (All the Clouds’ll Roll Away)” bears the inscription “”To a Swell Kid, Camilla.”  Unseen in the scan is “To Marilyn From Camilla Adams 1938” engraved in the run-out with some sharp instrument.

Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)

Liza (All the Clouds’ll Roll Away), recorded May 3, 1938 by Chick Webb and his Orchestra.