A Riverwalk Jazz Fifth Anniversary Bash recorded live in 1994 at a New York landmark, the Red Blazer Too jazz club in the theater district of mid-town Manhattan. To mark the occasion, some of the city’s resident jazz icons sit in with the band—bass legends Bob Haggart and Milt Hinton, pianist Dick Hyman and Broadway’s Carol Woods.
First up on the bill, the repertoire of New Orleans pianist and jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton. The Jim Cullum Jazz Band interprets two classics from Jelly's seminal Red Hot Peppers recordings: "Kansas City Stomps" and "Burnin' the Iceberg."
Sometimes referred to as the "8th member of The Jim Cullum Jazz Band" on the radio show, critics and fellow musicians tend to think of Dick Hyman as the "8th Wonder of the World" for his astounding command of the piano. Dick's vast experience in music includes roles as pianist, musical director and composer for countless recordings, television shows, concerts and film scores including, Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite. On this broadcast, Hyman sits in with the Band on two Jelly Roll Morton originals from the 1920s: "Frog-I-More Rag" (probably composed by Morton to accompany a vaudeville entertainer, a contortionist who appeared in a frog suit) and "Black Bottom Stomp."
Bassist Milt "The Judge" Hinton was born in Mississippi in 1910 and grew up in Chicago. After a 15-year stint with Cab Calloway, Hinton went on to become the busiest jazz bassist in New York and the single most-recorded jazz musician in history. A very rare Chicago recording features Milt's vocal on a Hoagy Carmichael tune, "Old Man Harlem," made early in Milt’s career with violinist Eddie South. On the broadcast, you hear a segment of this original recording, then a live cross-fade to Milt on stage with the Band. Milt gives us a sample of his peerless skill at the "slap bass" on Gershwin's "Fascinatin' Rhythm."
Bassist Bob Haggart is a founding member of the Bob Crosby Bob Cats, one of the most popular ‘bands within a band’ of the Swing Era. Operating as a cooperative of like-minded individuals, Crosby members revered and extended the sound of classic New Orleans hot jazz. The Bob Cats had their own radio show in the late 1930s, the Dixieland Music Shop, with songwriter and singer Johnny Mercer. Bob Haggart, the composer of standards, like "What's New" and the popular "Big Noise From Winnetka," is a long-time family friend of Jim Cullum and his clarinetist father. Haggart sits in with the Band on "Panama," a 1911 march by the New York-based, African-American composer William H. Tyers. The march was subsequently adopted by early New Orleans brass bands and evolved into an often-played standard tune of hot jazz.
In 1992 Cullum Band bassist Don Mopsick discovered a tune called "The Day the Bass Players Took Over the World," a wry fantasy created by Austin bassist-composer Emily Kaitz. Don added a few tag lines toward the end, and our trio of bass players joins in the fun on stage at Red Blazer Too.
Singer and actor Carol Woods is a veteran of the Broadway stage, national television productions and motion pictures. In 2008 she received rave reviews for her appearance in the Beatles tribute film Across the Universe, singing "Let It Be." The soundtrack CD was nominated for a Grammy. Here Carol offers two romantic songs with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, a medley on "I Remember You" and "Too Marvelous For Words." Carol recalls Billie Holiday on "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," and adds her magnificent rendition of "Body and Soul" to the long list of interpretations created since the song's 1930 debut.
Photo credit for Home Page image: Bob Haggart. Courtesy the artist.
Text based on Riverwalk Jazz script by Margaret Moos Pick ©1994