Saturday, July 12, 2014

Listening to Prestige Records Project - Part 5

Didn’t know Prestige had a Dixieland line? They did. Their entire 300 series of 78 RPM records was devoted to Dixieland. Of course, their entire 300 series was Prestige 301-304, and it consisted of four records by Jimmy McPartland, this session from March, 1949, and a second session September 21,1950. Both of them, appropriately, in Chicago, where Jimmy had cut his teeth as a musician, one of the

Austin High Gang of young white cats who got together to play in high school, discovered New Orleans jazz and Bix Beiderbecke, and never looked back.

Spotify doesn't have any of these sessions; YouTube has the first one, with Jmmy McPartland (cornet) Harry Lepp (trombone) Jack O'Connel (clarinet, alto saxophone) Marian Page (piano) Ben Carlton (bass) Mousie Alexander (drums). By the 1950 session, young Marian Turner, who had used the name Marian Page when she played jazz in Europe, so as not to disgrace her classical music-loving family, had taken the name of the dashing young hero of Normandy whom she had met and married in Europe when they were both playing USO shows.

"Royal Garden Blues" is a New Orleans standard written by Spencer Williams, and if traditional Dixieland was getting a little tired in 1949 (certainly Bob Weinstock must have thought so, as fast as he shut down this Dixieland line, you can't tell it from these cats. "In a Mist" is a Bix Beiderbecke composition, so one would think a natural to feature Jimmy, but Bix composed it for piano and played it on piano, so it becomes a very early showcase for Marian, and a lovely one.

Prestige 303 and 304 has an entirely different lineup, including Vic Dickenson. Well, entirely different if you count replacing Marian Page with Marian McPartland, the name she would use for the rest of her life, and make famous and beloved.

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