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There will always be a very special place in my heart for Nick's Restaurant in New York because it's an unpretentious little sport with a mellow atmosphere not at all characteristic of the more sophisticated clubs in the Big City, but what counts, of course, is the jazz.
It's my kind of jazz, and it might be your kind, and then it might not. Because too many people get the idea that it's got to be smooth to be good, that you've got to have soft lights and Ray Eberle singing Amapola with a sickly look on his face while all the Pine Manor Promtrotters swoon in droves. If that's what you like then Nick's isn't the place for you, because you'll be saying "Why that's old-fashioned stuff. It's corny, nobody plays that way any more. Give me the Andrews Sisters!" Well, there's a lot of truth that. Very few bands play the way Jimmy McPartland plays today, and more's the pity. Certainly it's an old-fashioned style; and if you prefer the stereotyped, lifeless riff tunes of Glenn Miller, Les Brown, and Artie Shaw, that's your prerogative. Me, I'll take the old stuff, and if you're on my side, you'll do well to go down to Nick's, for there you'll find the best living example of what is generally known as the Chicago Style of jazz.
Most of the musicians are veterans of the old Chicago days. Consequently, their music can't be anything but authentic. Better still, the tames they play (Panama, Muskrat Ramble, Sugar, That's A'Plenty), are all products of the twenties, and therefore the correct vehicle for the unique Chicago style. Sure, if you want, they'll play Frenesi for you (with a few dirty looks thrown in), but why bother with that? It's not their kind of music. You'll see what I mean when you hear them get together or a last chorus of, say, Muskrat Ramble with everybody in there driving for all he's worth. It's like a photo finish at Suffolk Downs, it can be so exciting. Jimmy McParland has the lead, and his cornet rips out what you'll recognize as the melody if you can follow the chord sequence. 'George Brunics makes a background foundation on trombone, long, deep, throaty notes which you won't ever hear Tommy Dorsey play. Pee Wee Russell is playing clarinet obbligato, weaving a jerky, almost insane pattern of dissonant, spit-laden phrases, companying his efforts with facial contortions that make you fear for his blood-pressure. And all the time, the rhythm section led by George Wetting's drums and Eddic Condon's guitar, is giving the boys a wonderful beat to work around. It's the climax, now, and you think it's all over. They can't play any better than this, but at the end of the chorus McPartland raises his hand signalling for one more, and everybody comes in and they really take the finish a part, and you say It's Too Much and start throwing chairs at people. Then they sign off with a slow blues, and it's intermission. You walk across the street to Julius's and ear the best roast beer sandwich in the world while Eddie Condon tells you how he's going to quit the music business. He's been saying that for fifteen years.
NEWS AND NEW RELEASES. Joe Marsala's brother Marty who plays a lot of trumpet, will be featured at the Beachcomber in Providence on Sunday. If you remember his work of the old Hiekery House days, you'll want to go and hear him... little Holiday's recent coupling of Georgia on My Mind and Let's Do It, is certainly above reproach, yet Billie just isn't the convincing singer she was a few years back. Columbia has been putting out a number of albums recently. Why don't they get up a Billie Holiday album which would include musicians like Benny Goodman, Toddy Wilson, Lester Young, Jo Jones, Buck Clayton, Cozy Cole, Frankie Newton, Elmond Hall, and many others. These dates produced some of the purest and most uninhibited jazz over recorded... Two noteworthy albums have been released this week. First is a collection of Dersey Brothers reissues which includes the original Gettin' Sentimental Over You, a much prettier job than the more recent version (COLUMBIA). The other is a Count Basie album, particularly valuable due to the inclusion of Swinging On the Dalsy Chain, one of the Count's first jobs with the full band. Execution is rather rough, but it has that old Basie jump (DECCA)
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