The Dean of Swing

The Dean of Swing

by Ben Pollack


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This Living Era compilation presents a chronological core sample of Ben Pollack's recorded works, ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime. While some of the dopier vocals might cause Irritable Ear Syndrome, there's enough solid cooking in here to constitute a fairly enjoyable retrospective of the old New Orleans Rhythm Kings drummer's career as a bandleader. "Singapore Sorrows" (1928) includes delightful "oriental" percussion effects and some impressive soloing from Benny Goodman. Other noteworthy names from the first seven sessions include Glenn Miller, Fud Livingston, Jimmy McPartland, Bud Freeman, Mezz Mezzrow, Jack Teagarden, and Ray Bauduc. "Yellow Dog Blues" (1929) begins like a solidly respectable stomp but all at once the band stops blowing and Pollack, who at some point must have gotten bitten on the leg by Ted Lewis, begins laughing in measured rhythm. A wah-wah trombone guffaws back at him and then the whole band momentarily succumbs. The subtler "My Kinda Love" (1929) delivers the sugary Park Central Orchestra sound. Pollack warbles quaintly when he sings. The delightful "Keep Your Undershirt On" (1929), with a vocal by Scrappy Lambert and a very suave Teagarden solo, is the best of the early novelty tunes heard here. "Two Tickets to Georgia" (1933) has a snappy vocal by Nappy Lamare, and the band really throws down. Lamare was also turned loose on "Got the Jitters" (1933) with tangible support from Yank Lawson and Benny Morton. "The Beat o' My Heart" (1934), a ghastly attempt at a love song in march rhythm, was apparently a number two hit in its day, but seems in retrospect to represent the nadir of the entire Pollack discography. "Song of the Islands" (1936) has a hypnotic steel guitar wafting about, and now Harry James has materialized in the trumpet section. With "Spreadin' Knowledge Around" (1936), an eight-piece band calling itself Dean & His Kids cooks up a fine stomp. "Jimtown Blues" (1936) really percolates -- this is Pollack at his very best. "Wabash Blues" (1936) by the Rhythm Wreckers uses steel guitar again, but this time as a humorous presence. Pollack generates a pippity-pop sort of wagon-wheel accompaniment while the band deliberately sags and stretches its notes. "Peckin'" (1936) is notable for its deranged group vocal. Composed by Pollack, the song worked very well a year later for Johnny Hodges -- possibly even better than it does here, although Harry James sounds somewhat inspired. The Wreckers return with a tough little rendition of "St. Louis Blues" (1937), during which Muggsy Spanier does some magnificent growling and vocalist Whitey McPherson yodels like a cowgirl. "That Old Feeling" (1937) features the charming Connee Boswell. Spanier stuck with Pollack for most of the rest of 1937, participating in a surprisingly brisk "September in the Rain" and three smoky instrumentals: "My Wild Irish Rose," "Alice Blue Gown," and "The Snake Charmer." Here the band cooks with a steady rolling boil, and the results are gratifying. This is the Pick-A-Rib Boys sound, and it was successfully revived in 1950 with a completely new lineup. "Dardanella" and "That Da Da Strain" are unadulterated straightforward traditional jazz. It's too bad Living Era didn't include more instrumentals in this retrospective; a few of the best vocals would have provided the necessary flavor and context while leaving more room for the right stuff to shine through.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/24/2003
Label: Asv Living Era
UPC: 0743625549126
catalogNumber: 5491

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ben Pollack   Primary Artist,Drums,Vocals
Bud Freeman   Tenor Saxophone
Benny Goodman   Clarinet,Trumpet,Alto Saxophone
Harry James   Trumpet
Yank Lawson   Trumpet
Muggsy Spanier   Cornet
Charlie Spivak   Trumpet
Jack Teagarden   Trombone
Ray Bauduc   Drums
Irving Fazola   Clarinet
Deane Kincaide   Alto Saxophone
Matty Matlock   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Jimmy McPartland   Cornet
Benny Morton   Trombone
Freddie Slack   Piano
Charlie Teagarden   Trumpet
Dick Cathcart   Trumpet
Earl Baker   Cornet
Larry Binyon   Clarinet,Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Vic Breidis   Piano
Shirley Clay   Trumpet
Raymond Cohen   Violin
Harry Goodman   Tuba
Nappy Lamare   Guitar,Vocals
Fud Livingston   Tenor Saxophone
Mezz Mezzrow   Alto Saxophone
Bill Newman   Banjo,Guitar
Joe Price   Steel Guitar
Frankie Quartell   Cornet
Gil Rodin   Alto Saxophone
Moe Schneider   Trombone
Ray Sherman   Piano
Shorty Sherock   Trumpet
Bruce Squires   Trombone
Ted Vesely   Trombone
Walter Yoder   Bass
Victor Young   Violin
Alex Beller   Violin
Sterling Bose   Trumpet
Harris   Cornet
Garry McAdams   Guitar
Whitey McPherson   Vocals
Thurman Teague   Bass
Opie Cates   Alto Saxophone
Frank Frederico   Guitar
Ruby Weinstein   Trumpet
Joe Yukl   Trombone
Franklyn Baur   Vocals
Morton Friedman   Tenor Saxophone
Bill Schumann   Cello
Gil Bowers   Piano
Ray Woods   Trumpet
Sammy Taylor   Drums
Joe Harris   Trombone
Herbert "Happy" Lawson   Tenor Saxophone
Dave Matthews   Tenor Saxophone
Bud Carlton   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Frances Hunt   Vocals
Ralph Copsey   Trombone
Ben Kanter   Clarinet
Francis Palmer   Bass
Graham Stevenson   Drums
Dick Morgan   Banjo
Jerry Johnson   Bass
Artie Quenzer   Tenor Saxophone
Doris Robbins   Vocals
Paulette Byron   Vocals
Dean & His Kids   Track Performer
Harold "Scrappy" Lambert   Vocals

Technical Credits

Harry James   Composer
Ben Pollack   Composer
Larry Clinton   Composer
Irving Mills   Composer
W.C. Handy   Composer
Jimmy McHugh   Composer
Robert Hurst   Composer
Felix Bernard   Composer
Lew Brown   Composer
Johnny Burke   Composer
J. Fred Coots   Composer
Dubin   Composer
Sammy Fain   Composer
Dorothy Fields   Composer
Will J. Harris   Composer
Will Hudson   Composer
Gus Kahn   Composer
Bert Kalmar   Composer
Walter Kent   Composer
Fred Rose   Composer
Harry Ruby   Composer
Jo Trent   Composer
Harry Warren   Composer
Paul Francis Webster   Composer
Victor Young   Composer
Jerome Jerome   Composer
Chauncey Olcott   Composer
Charlie Davis   Composer
Mark Ranshaw   Cover Photo
Charles Tobias   Composer
Ted Shapiro   Composer
Joe Young   Composer
Louis Alter   Composer
Fred Fisher   Composer
Walter Hirsch   Composer
John Jacob Loeb   Composer
Dave Ringle   Composer
Harry Tierney   Composer
Richard Byron   Composer
Ray Doll   Composer
Edgar Dowell   Composer
Mamie Medina   Composer
Fred Meinken   Composer
Billy Rose   Composer
Joseph McCarthy   Composer
Johnny Black   Composer
Charles E. King   Composer
Johnny S. Black   Composer

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