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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Harry Carney Centennial Celebration (1/5)

Harry Carney, the great anchor of many a fine Ellington sax section, would have been 100 years old today, April 1, 2010.

Carney was born in Boston, MA, on April 1, 1910. As a teenager, he started playing with Duke Ellington's orchestra in 1927 and participating in a first recording session on October 6 of that year. Carney started out playing alto sax and clarinet with Duke. The clarinet would stay in his bag for all those years, he did section work here and there and did his patented solo on "Rockin' in Rhythm" on the licorice stick as well. He later also added the bass clarinet to his roster.

Carney was one of the most important and longest standing members in Ellington's band - other than Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams, and other important Ellingtonians, he never left the orchestra and played with Duke up to his death in New York, on October 8, 1974 (the Duke himself had died the same year, on May 24).

Nowadays, with a bunch of well-known modern baritone sax players, Carney is unjustly forgotten, yet he may well still be the greatest baritone sax player in jazz. He was firmly based on Coleman Hawkins' innovations on the tenor sax, playing with a robust, huge sound. Carney was also a terrific balladeer.

This is the first of a five-part compilation of Carney's music, the other four will be posted in the next few days. The aim is to present Carney mostly in sideman appearances of various small groups, including the few sessions he led on his own. Ellington is mostly absent here, but of course a lot of the music is very Ellingtonian in mood, and many of the sidemen were Ellingtonians, including Johnny Hodges (who will be featured heavily on later volumes), Billy Strayhorn, Louis Bellson, Lawrence Brown, Cootie Williams, Jimmy Hamilton, Otto Hardwick, or Rex Stewart, but you'll also hear Coleman Hawkins, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Jones, Joe Thomas, Shelly Manne, Sandy Williams, Wardell Gray, Willie Smith, John Graas, Don Byas, Johnny Guarnieri, Charlie Ventura, Lester Young, and many others.
And of course you'll hear "Harry Carney with Strings", and his two features from Norman Granz' "The Jazz Scene", as well as a short Ellington rarity: a recording with Max Roach on the drums!

Hope you will enjoy, and hope many will (re-)discover what a terrific musician Harry Carney was!


ubu said...

Get the first volume here, here and here.

ubu said...

And the cover art and discography for the entire series is here.

ubu said...

I forgot to say: these are FLAC files, tagged.

ubu said...

And here's the discography again, in a more readable way:


January 16, 1938 – Benny Goodman
Carnegie Hall, New York City – Columbia

Cootie Williams (tp), Vernon Brown (tb), Benny Goodman (cl), Johnny Hodges
(ss), Harry Carney (bari), Jess Stacy (p), Alan Reuss (g), Harry Goodman
(b), Gene Krupa (d)

Blue Reverie (Duke Ellington-Harry Carney) 3:12

same date & location

Buck Clayton, Harry James (tp), Vernon Brown (tb), Benny Goodman (cl),
Johnny Hodges (as), Lester Young (ts), Harry Carney (bari), Count Basie
(p), Freddie Green (g), Walter Page (b),
Gene Krupa (d)

Honeysuckle Rose (Fats Waller-Andy Razaf) 16:36
(solo order: Young, Basie, Clayton, Hodges, rhythm section, Carney,
Goodman, Green, James, Young, Clayton

May 24, 1944 – Coleman Hawkins & His Sax Ensemble
New York – Keynote

Tab Smith (as,arr), Coleman Hawkins, Don Byas (ts), Harry Carney (bari),
Johnny Guarnieri (p), Al Lucas (b), Sid Catlett (d)

On the Sunny Side of the Street (alternate take) (Dorothy Fields-Jimmy
McHugh) 4:54
On the Sunny Side of the Street (Dorothy Fields-Jimmy McHugh) 4:46
Three Little Words (Harry Ruby-Bert Kalmer) 4:48
Battle of the Saxes (Coleman Hawkins) 4:35
Louise (alternate take) (Richard Whiting-Leo Robin) 4:55
Louise (Richard Whiting-Leo Robin) 4:52

January 25, 1945 – Rex Stewart's Big Eight
Radio Recorders, Los Angeles – Capitol

Rex Stewart (cor), Lawrence Brown (tb), Al Sears (ts), Harry Carney
(bari), Eddie Heywood (p), Ulysses Livingston (g), Junior Raglin (b), Keg
Purnell (d)
on Blue Jay add: Joya Sherrill (voc)

T'ain't Like That (78 take) (Rex Stewart) 3:03
T'ain't Like That (alternate take) (Rex Stewart) 3:03
Dutch Treat (Rex Stewart) 2:58
Rexercise (Rex Stewart) 2:53
Blue Jay (Stewart-Greene-Sherrill) 2:37

August 22, 1945 – Timme Rosenkrantz and his "Barons"
New York City – Continental

Otto Hardwick, Johnny Bothwell (as), Charlie Ventura (ts), Harry Carney
(bari), Red Norvo (vib), Jimmy Jones (p), John Levy (b), Specs Powell (d)

Bouncy (Rosenkrantz-Cavanaugh-Jones) 2:54
Bouncy (alternate take) (Rosenkrantz-Cavanaugh-Jones) 3:00
Blues at Dawn (Rosenkrantz-Cavanaugh-Jones) 3:09
Timme Time (Beat Bounce) (Rosenkrantz-Cavanaugh-Jones) 2:58

Notes: of the hornmen, only Carney, Ventura and Bothwell are heard in solo
prob. arranged by Jimmy Jones

Arcturus said...

this look like it's gonna be really fun - I take it this is your own compliation? what a great idea!

his voice was a crucial element to what we recognize as Duke's sound

your mention that he took up the bass clarinet reminds me of a 1938 Ellington rendition of "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart" - it's the earliest instance of a bass clarinet jazz recording that I'm aware of, tho there may well be others I've never heard - haven't ever researched it out

at any rate, it'll be forever before I get this, let alone hear it, but lemme shout out a hearty T H A N K S ! ! ! for the huge effort in putting this together & posting it

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are some very early recordings, featuring a bass clarinet. Here we go with one of two early examples of "cool" jazz:

In A Mist with the Red Norvo Quartet.

Quote from Wikipedia:

Bix Beiderbecke's "In a Mist" and Norvo's own "Dance of the Octopus", accompanied by Benny Goodman in a rare performance playing a bass clarinet, Dick McDonough on guitar and Artie Bernstein on slap bass. Kapp was outraged when he heard them and tore up Norvo's contract and threw him out. (Interestingly, this modern record remained in print all through the 1930s!)

ubu said...

The link doesn't work, but the tracks can be streamed here:

Red Norvo - In a Mist
Red Norvo - Dance of the Octopus

Very nice!
I have plenty of Mildred Bailey with Norvo's band, but I still miss the purely instrumental music.

Anonymous said...

Hi King Ubu,

I can play all the mp3's from that site, which is a horn of plenty regarding the early jazz up to the 50's. Anyway, I have a lot of Red Norvo instrumentals, and when I'll find the time, I make you a little album.

There is a lot of Red Norvo:



ubu said...

Ah, that's weird - it works in MSIE, but not in Opera!

Thanks for the new link - will have to look around on that site!

I'd wish Mosaic would have a companion set to the Mildred Bailey box, compiling the instrumental sides from that period (same with Teddy Wilson on Columbia... the Billie Holiday set is great, but the pure instrumentals are missing...)