Sunday, October 12, 2014

Listening to Prestige Records Part 40: Roy Eldridge

Back to Sweden, this time with Roy Eldridge, one of the swing era greats to still command respect in the modern era. There's a bit of an oompah feeling to the Swedish rhythm section, especially on "Echoes of Harlem," but they give Little Jazz a chance to play, and that's always worth listening to.

Once again, what was it with the jazz musicians of the 40s and nursery rhymes? Was it to prove that they were so hip that they could even make nursery rhymes sound cool? I don't know, but cleverness doesn't always stand the test of time, and this isn't just an interpolated quote from a nursery rhyme -- the whole number is Eldridge singing one nursery rhyme after another. As usual, I had my Spotify Prestige playlist on for auto trips -- you can listen to everything through a couple of times on one trip to Sam's Club and back, and usually this is perfect -- some quiet alone time for serious listening, a chance to really focus on the music, and fifteen or twenty minutes each way of sheer pleasure. But this time, after about the first three listens, I found myself skipping over "School Days."

"Saturday Night Fish Fry" is Eldridge on vocals again, this time with a great Louis Jordan novelty number, and Eldridge handles it just fine, although the trumpet solo after the vocals is really the best part. The Swedish backup vocalists do an interesting and not unpleasant job with a phonetic reading of "It was rockin'."

"The Heat's On" is back to a solid instrumental, great Little Jazz, and the best work by the Swedes. Excellent cut, and one hopes the heat was on, in Stockholm in January,

Two days later, the same group recorded two blues numbers with Eldridge in fine form both on vocals and trumpet, and one blistering instrumental cut.

 These were released on the Swedish Metronome label, and Prestige put them out on 78, concentrating on the vocals -- "School Days" was the A side of one, and "Saturday Night Fish Fry," in two parts, on both sides of the second. The two sessions were also released on a Prestige 10-inch as Roy Eldridge in Sweden, and apparently at pretty much the same time by EmArcy, Mercury's jazz label, as Roy's Got Rhythm.

 No one seems to have posted videos for any of these, but they're all on Spotify in a collection called The Heat's On.

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