Who Loves Paul Whiteman?

Paul Whiteman is not a universally admired figure in jazz history.

That’s about as neutral a way to put it without rehashing arguments about the popular bandleader being called “the king of jazz” or the ratio of jazz content to symphonic or popular elements in his music. Suffice it to say that much of Whiteman’s extensive recorded work is not listed in discographies focusing on jazz.

Still, here’s an interesting record that does not appear to have made the cut:

The gliding full-chorus trombone and growling muted trumpet take up a good portion of the side. Yet even without the ample solo space that defines jazz for many listeners, as an experiment in the wonders of so-called “two-beat jazz,” tap a steady two-beat pulse along with this record. See if your finger, foot, head, etc., is hitting at the same time as the band’s feel. Try to stick to just two steady beats. There’s a lot more going on here rhythmically, even without improvisation.

The first 20 seconds of the record alone are a buffet of syncopation: the intro bouncing between the trombone’s jabbing lead and the band’s upswing; the verse hinting at a bouncing duple even as the sax section’s responses pull at the pulse, and then the chorus hammering the downbeat while the brass lifts the upbeat (and likely dancers’ feet). Even the winding oboe obbligato in the middle of the trombone solo has its own little lilt—not to mention creating an interesting texture.

Whiteman is now associated with texture and symphonic heft, but other than the dramatic interlude between the soloists, this side focuses on rhythm and melodic clarity. It was waxed in October of 1923, around the same time King Oliver and His Creole Jazz Band were recording in the Gennett, Okeh, and Columbia studios.

What a fascinating coupling of bands this must have been to pick up at your local record vendor and appreciate back-to-back at home! Imagine contemporary jazz appreciation being as catholic as pre-war music consumption!


7 thoughts on “Who Loves Paul Whiteman?

  1. jazzlives says:

    He is back!

    May your happiness increase!


  2. Albert Haim says:

    I do, I do!
    There were five takes of “Mamma Loves Papa on Oct 2, 1923. All were destroyed. There were five more on Oct 29, 1924. Take 8 was mastered, the remaining destroyed. A Grofe arrangement.
    Don Rayno tells us: “One of the featured numbers at the Feb 12, 1924 Aeolian Hall concert. The standout is Roy Maxon’s hot solo. Billboard, April 16, 1927 referred to Roy as having the reputation of being one of the first so-called ‘hot’ trombone players.”

    • AJS says:

      I know you do, Albert, as shown by all the great stuff you’ve written on the Bixography forum—including that passionate and well-argued defense of Whiteman that I linked to in this post. Thanks for reading and commenting, Albert!

  3. andrewhomzy says:

    Thanks for introducing me to this very interesting Whiteman recording, Roy Maxon and who’s the arranger? I saw somewhere it was the pianist on the session –

    I wonder how it compares to the following version, featuring the ODJB’s trombonist – who seems to have stayed in Europe after the 1919 tour –

    Orchestre Hot Boys Band
    ? Jean Naudin (tp) Emile Christian (tb) Mario Scanavino (as) Tony Rumolino (sop,as,bar,ldr) prob. Tom Waltham (p) unidentified (bj), (d)
    Paris, c. December 15, 1923

    And there is this:

    • AJS says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! Albert Haim indicates that this arrangement is by Ferde Grofé.

      It would be interesting to hear that smaller band’s approach to this hot hummable tune. Most of the versions I’ve heard are by larger bands like Isham Jones and Nathan Glantz.

      Thanks for reading and for sharing these other musical possibilities!

  4. Albert Haim says:

    The Virginians, a band within the Paul Whiteman band, recorded Mama loves Papa.
    Henry Busse, Frank Siegrist (tp) Roy Maxon (tb) Ross Gorman (cl,b-cl,as,ldr) Hale Byers (cl,sop,as) Ferde Grofe (p) Al Armer (tu)
    Jane Green (vcl) added Paging Brad Kay
    New York, December 4, 1923
    29103-2 Mama loves papa (jg vcl) Vic 19215

    The Georgians, a band within the Paul Specht band, also recorded Mama Loves Papa.
    Frank Guarente (tp) ArchieJones (tb) Johnny O’Donnell (cl,b-cl,as) Frank Smith (cl,sop) Harold Saliers (cl,as,ts) Arthur Schutt (p) Russell Deppe (bj) Chauncey Morehouse (d)
    New York, September 6, 1923
    81197-1 Mama loves papa [Papa loves mama] Col A3987

    PS I happen to have an article about these two bands within bands coming out in the Fall issue of the ARSC Journal.

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