Gospel Boogie Friday: Red Foley and his Log Cabin Quartet

It’s always a pleasure when a researcher introduces us to a new tune. These two sides by the great Red Foley are some prime sacred boogie. Featuring members of his band from the 1940s, including Zeb Turner (born William Edward Grishaw, he renamed himself after a favorite piece of music, “The Zeb Turner Stomp”), the group adopted the style of popular African American jubilee gospel quartets. Foley was an extremely versatile musician, moving through old-time, country, blues, and pop with ease, however always maintaining the mellow smoothness that made him a country music star. Enjoy these clips of “Everybody’s Gonna Have a Wonderful Time Up There” and “Ride On, King Jesus” from call no. 78-6737.  See you next week. 78_6737_EverybodysGonna78_6737_RideOn

Cataloger's Corner

Michel Pruvot, Record Musette (1991), CD9567, Southern Folklife Collection

The Southern Folklife Collection has just cataloged a unique collection of French accordion music CDs. Some of them are re-releases of 1930s recordings, primarily accordion-plus-big band arrangements of foxtrots and waltzes. Others come from the 1980s and 1990s and feature the instrument in genres like disco, boogie, and samba.
Especially noteworthy among this group of CDs is the 1991 reissue of the album Record Musette by accordion virtuoso Michel Pruvot (originally released in 1984). Though he is perhaps best known as the host of the French television show Sur un Air d’Accordéon (On the Accordion), Pruvot has also distinguished himself as a repeat winner of the international Accordion Endurance Competition, able to play continuously for over 117 hours.

CD9567, Southern Folklife Collection

Record Musette features a combination of original Pluvot compositions and covers. The clip included here is his interpretation of “Orange Blossom Special,” a song originally for bluegrass fiddle.
“Orange Blossom Special”
The SFC is proud to be the only repository in North America to have a cataloged copy of Record Musette. 

Listening to John Tchicai in the Southern Folklife Collection

It is unfortunate that the catalyst for many of my forays into the Southern Folklife Collection archives is the death of an artist. Marion Brown, pictured above, has been on my mind lately because I recently picked up a copy of his brilliant 1973 LP, Geechee Recollections. Between spins I have been reading about Brown’s life and career (Brown died almost two years ago on October 23, 2010), and last night I heard via radio transmission from WXYC Chapel Hill, 89.3 FM, that saxophonist, composer and occasional Brown collaborator John Tchicai (also pictured above) had passed away on October 8.
WXYC human deejay Evan Davis (who occasionally programs the Southern Folklife Collection radio show, “Hell or High Water,” on every Sunday from 1-2PM on WXYC, and whose broadcasts I highly recommend; Davis regularly takes listeners deep down into the rabbit hole and through the other side with some truly innovative programming) hosted an excellent retrospective of Tchicai’s career (see playlist here), featuring some of his collaborations with Europe’s greatest contemporary jazz performers and composers of the 1970s. The loss of another free jazz giant and the sounds shared by Mr. Davis resonated with me and offered the necessary encouragement to look for recordings of Tchicai in the SFC.
John Martin Tchicai was born in Copenhagen in 1936 with a Danish mother and a Congolese father and his musical career reflects the broad scope of his Afro-Danish-American heritage. After moving to New York in 1963, and he quickly became a leading exponent of avant-garde jazz as it developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Tchicai co-founded the New York Contemporary Five with Archie Shepp and Don Cherry, and soon after, the New York Art Quartet. Along with Shepp, Tchicai joined the 1965 ensemble recording session for John Coltrane’s Ascencion, from which the photo above was taken. The SFC has a pristine copy of Ascencion, call number FC21590.
The LP held in the SFC is the original pressing of the album, known as “Edition I.” Edition I is the second recorded take of the composition and was originally released on Impulse in February 1966 (catalog number A-95). Tchicai takes the second solo  on side 2 of the original pressing, Edition I. However Ascension was quickly repressed with “Edition II,” the preferred take of Coltrane. On that version Tichai appears as the first soloist on side 2. Listen to Tchicai’s solo from Edition I here:FC21590_Ascension_Edition 1_John Coltrane_John Tchicai
In 1966, Tchicai returned to Denmark. He formed the collective orchestra “Cadentia Nova Danica”, at one time a 30-piece ensemble, and recorded the groups excellent self titled album in 1968. Tchicai focused on teaching and his own spiritual practice in the 1970s, performing and recording less than the previous decade but still remaining productive. In 1978, Tchicai appeared on his first collaboration with South African bassist/composer Johnny Dyani and tenor saxophonist Dudu Pakwana, Witchdoctor’s Son, SFC call number FC24046. The ensemble’s recording of the traditional South African tune arranged by Dyani, “Magwaza,” remains a highlight of the record. Listen to an excerpt of Tchicai’s first solo below. (Click on photos to enlarge). FC24046_Magwaza_excerpt_Johnny Dyani with John Tchicai and Dudu Pukwana_Witchdoctor’s Son
There are a few other recordings of Tchicai in the SFC but I wanted to close this post with an album he recorded with pianist Cecil Taylor in Italy in October of 1984, Winged Serpent (Sliding Quadrants), SFC call number FC23682. Tchicai plays tenor on this album, forming part of an 11 piece ensemble (including altoist Jimmy Lyons, basoonist Karen Borca, and bassist William Parker) that sounds as colorful and dense as the album’s cover art. A joyful noise indeed. Rest in peace, John Tchicai.

Friday Folios: Brought to you by the Letter "B" and the Southern Folklife Collection

A few folios for you this Friday. First the famous Bailes Brothers from West Virginia. Only two of the brothers are featured here, although Walter and Kyle were certainly in the group at the time of the publication of this folio in the mid-1940s. That Johnnie and Homer would soon go their separate ways makes the image of them as apparently conjoined twins that much more poignant.
While Johnnie and Homer look happy together, the King of Western Swing, Bob Wills looks downright menacing on the cover of this 1946 folio. While Wills’s iconic grin often gives him the appearance of a mad man (and his happy hollers help to reinforce the diagnosis), here the bright red background an Wills’s laconic eyes makes him look especially dangerous. Featuring some hit songs like “Texas Playboy Rag” and “Faded Love,” along with patriotic propaganda-pop like “G. I. Wish” and heartfelt memorial ballads penned by Wills like “White Cross on Okinawa,” this folio was certainly a hit although it might have given some players pause when they pulled if from their parlor piano bench.
For more fantastical folio flights of fancy see collection #30006, the Southern Folklife Collection Song Folios, circa 1882-1983.

Thursday 10": Leadbelly*

* the album title is “Leadbelly,” however, Mr. Ledbetter himself spelled his name as two words, “Lead Belly”
Earlier this week, we had the good fortune of revisiting this remarkable Huddie Ledbetter 10″ LP from the Capitol Records “Classics in Jazz” series, Southern Folklife Collection call number FC14651. Issued in 1953, almost four years after Lead Belly’s death, the album is remarkable not only because of the striking portrait of Ledbetter and his famous 12-string guitar, but also because of Ledbetter’s accompaniment on the recordings. In the liner notes, Paul Mason Howard is credited with playing the zither on “these historic performances.”  The interplay of zither with Ledbetter’s booming 12 string is highly enjoyable and these recordings (made in California in 1944) showcase Ledbetter in top form. Listen to the intro to “Back Water Blues” from side 2:BackWaterBlues_Leadbelly_FC14651_Southern Folklife Collection
Mr. Howard, a pianist and composer who worked in vaudeville and collaborated with Tin Man and Beverly Hillbilly, Buddy Ebsen, before working extensively as a songwriter for the Walt Disney Company, is actually playing the Dolceola. Mr. Howard supplemented his songwriting career performing on hybrid string instruments like the Dolceola and Cithare. These recordings of Lead Belly and Howard are likely the first commercial recordings of the Dolceola. The solo on the duo’s recording of “Ella Speed” highlights the unique tone of the Dolceola:EllaSpeed_Leadbelly_FC14651_Southern Folklife Collection
It was once thought that legendary Texas gospel singer Washington Phillips performed on the Dolceola, but his instruments were later confirmed to be two Celestaphones, More on Phillips and the Celestaphone another time, but for now we leave you with the final track from the LP, Lead Belly’s arrangement of the classic cowboy tune “Western Plain”. To recap, this is a recording of a performer identified as a blues musician, playing a cowboy song, released on a jazz record…. as another classic cowboy song says “Don’t fence me in.” Come a cow-cow yicky. come a cow-cow yicky, yicky yea.WesternPlain_LeadBelly_FC14651_Southern Folklife Collection

* the album title is “Leadbelly,” however, Mr. Ledbetter himself spelled his name as two words, “Lead Belly”