A Birthday For Buster

I don’t usually celebrate jazz birthdays. Then again, Buster Bailey would have turned 114 today, and there is  “Log Cabin Blues,” featuring Bailey with Clarence Williams’s Washboard Five:

He’s witty in response to Ed Allen’s cornet, pensive in solo and tasteful in his obbligato around Allen’s lead in the last choruses. Throughout, he crafts in earthy scoops, baroque runs, brilliant execution and a sense of nervous animation: every note seems to spiral in place, every run pushes at the beat, not quite like Bailey is fighting the ground rhythm but more like he’s teasing it. Clarence Williams’s band, with Allen, tubaist Cyrus St. Clair, percussionist Floyd Casey and Williams’s piano and spare but smart arrangements, always makes for glorious jazz.

That’s all in a little over three minutes! I guess a little recognition is okay. Happy birthday to the late Buster Bailey.

Buster Bailey

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4 thoughts on “A Birthday For Buster

  1. tronepone says:

    Great selection, Andrew. You’ve been opening at least one pair of ears to this musician, among others. His recordings with Clarence Williams have been subordinated in the literature (at least that with which I’m familiar) to those with Fletcher Henderson and other larger ensembles. Thank you for the time taken to share!

    • I think you’re right that there isn’t as much attention paid to Buster Bailey’s work with Clarence Williams as with Fletcher Henderson. Just for me to run at the mouth more about Bailey, “Dreaming The Hours Away” is one of my favorite Bailey records, Williams records, clarinet solos, Coleman Hawkins solos, desert island discs, etc. Both Bailey/Williams versions of “Sweet Emmalina ” are terrific. “Bozo” is another interesting side (which I may post a question about), and some of the earlier sides with Louis Armstrong have Bailey on soprano saxophone, doing his damnedest to fill Sidney Bechet’s big shoes. The hits keep comin’ and you can count the record dates this guy led on two hands!

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