…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.