…than it’s my blog and this recording is one of my favorites, here is McKinney’s Cotton Pickers on “I Found A New Baby“:
The arrangement goes straight into Spencer Williams‘s melody, sans introduction about a decade before Ellington’s “Cotton Tail,” showing off the sax section with the first alto slightly inflecting the theme while maintaining a solid lead. The brass vary things more but remain thoroughly idiomatic: punchy and metallic with no clarinet-like noodles. Prince Robinson plays the tenor sax like it’s twice as big and cast in copper. He works in tone and winking little licks rather than rapid-fire arpeggiation a la Coleman Hawkins or Bud Freeman’s greasy barroom innuendo.
This band and its chief arranger/director Don Redman, beloved as they are by collectors and historians, have been criticized for an occasionally over-arranged sound. Trumpeter John Nesbitt’s chart is economical in form and visceral in delivery. Remove the the sections filling out the harmonies and you can almost hear a two-man front line of alto and trumpet playing the head and then taking a paraphrase solo before saxophonist George Thomas’s vocal.
It all takes place in a little over three minutes. While there won’t be any dissertations written about it, there seems to be a craft as well as a spirit to the notes themselves beyond nostalgia or factual inventory. More definitely, I like it.
So, this isn’t a dissertation? Well put distinction between the approaches of Nesbitt and Redman.
Another intriguing aspect of the music is how these musicians all listened to each other. The arrangement seems inspired by the Chicago Rhythm Kings version on Brunswick, recorded a year and two days earlier, which sold quite well. The aggressive Robinson solo and that of Mezzrow make an interesting comparison, too. The Chicagoans made an impact, also evident in some of the Nichols and Mole records in this period, on which some of them participated.
The vocal is listed in JR6 as George Thomas. (The Victor issue simply says “vocal chorus.”) But this sounds like Dave Wilborn. Note that his banjo doesn’t return until a few bars later.
Interesting connection back to the Chicagoans, and a really nice catch on the vocalist! Thanks!
Just noting that taking the tune at this tempo means that making the eighth notes (by single, not double tonguing) is a nice little challenge for the brass section.
Huh! That is really interesting, especially in the context of a chart written by a trumpeter. Thanks for the brassy perspective!