Various Artists - Grey Gull Rarities (Music CD)

Release Date: 10 September 2009
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You don't have to be a collector of obscure 78 rpm platters to enjoy this remarkable gold mine of all-but-forgotten jazz and hot novelty recordings. Whereas anyone who has actually handled the original artifacts will swoon with delight as the mother lode of 27 precious musical relics gradually reveals itself in all its glory. The Grey Gull company was born in Boston back in December 1919, the brainchild of one Theodore Shaw. By 1921 Grey Gull was actively leasing phonograph masters from other firms. Which makes this a rather surprising survey for the serious collector, as only one of these selections originally came out bearing the Grey Gull label. Grey Gull, it seems, was primarily an all-purpose record pressing operation, which had a hand in manufacturing and distributing lateral records bearing quite a number of small-time labels. While Emerson seems to have been a main source of material, labels represented on this disc include Nadsco, Amco, Globe, Madison, Van Dyke, Phonycord, Goodson, Piccadilly, Supreme, Up-To-Date and that fabulous budget line with the futuristic name of Radiex By now, any seasoned record hound is gasping with anticipation. Everyone else should go ahead and get a hold of this disc simply to have ready access to a lot of really entertaining -- and incidentally very uncommon -- music from the 1920s. The leitmotif for the entire album (and in a way for the decade itself) is "Harlem's Araby," an early masterpiece of hot dance music composed by "Thomas "Fats" Waller. Grey Gull Rarities contains no less than three different versions of this remarkably exciting song. Perusing the discographies, one learns that most of these ensembles were positively protean as names changed with every issue. The Grey Gull House Band, for example, also appeared as the Memphis Jazzers, the Atlanta Merrymakers, the Southern Rhythm Masters, and the Atlantic Syncopators or the White Star Syncopators. Another marvelous aspect of these recordings is the number of musicians who are listed as "unknown." In fact, the "unknown" players are often the real stars. Recognizable authentic jazz personae include Thomas Morris, Porter Grainger, Tommy Dorsey, Bob Fuller, and Carl Kress. There are magnificent xylophone runs by Harry A. Yerkes' ace percussionist George Hamilton Green, a couple of surreal violinists and accordionists, and a few period vocalists, none of whom do any real damage to the proceedings. Jazz Oracle seems to specialize in the art of bringing to light amazing instrumentalists who would otherwise have languished in the shadows for the rest of time. This album showcases Mike Mosiello, a very adept novelty improvising trumpeter -- he makes his horn quack during "Wow Wow Blues" which, by the way, was also known as "Ja-Da Blues" and "Wa Da Ja Da Blues" -- and a formidable fellow by the name of Andy Sannella, who handled clarinet, alto sax, and slack key guitar with flashy, immaculate ease. In the final analysis, Jazz Oracle has delivered what must be counted among the most exciting early jazz compilations ever to have appeared on CD, or on any format since the invention of the lateral phonograph record. ~ arwulf arwulf
Release Date: 10 September 2009
  • 1. Harlem's Araby
  • 2. Copenhagen
  • 3. Strut Your Jones
  • 4. Pepper Blues
  • 5. Tiger Rag - Hilltoppers
  • 6. St. Louis Blues - Nashville Jazzers
  • 7. It's Tight Like That
  • 8. Sweet Little Sis
  • 9. Sweetheart It's You
  • 10. Stomp Along
  • 11. Wow-Wow Blues
  • 12. St. James Infirmary
  • 13. The Free and Easy
  • 14. Dancing With Tears in My Eyes
  • 15. Breakin' a Leg
  • 16. Don't Know and Don't Care - Memphis Jazzers
  • 17. Ev'rybody Dance - Memphis Jazzers
  • 18. Miss Golden Brown - Memphis Jazzers
  • 19. In Harlem's Araby - Memphis Jazzers
  • 20. Hot Moments
  • 21. The Rackett
  • 22. The Harlem Stomp Down
  • 23. Happy Days Are Here Again - California Ramblers
  • 24. Harlem's Araby
  • 25. St. Louis Blues - Nashville Jazzers
  • 26. The Rackett
  • 27. The Harlem Stomp Down

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Catalogue No: BDW8038