Sometimes you can go home again, and sometimes you can’t. In July 1974, I tried to take a trip back in time and almost made it.
Jess Stacy was one of my favorite pianists and I had worked for over a year to get him to agree to a solo recording, something he hadn’t done for a couple of decades. He finally relented and was scheduled to come into New York in early July and recording was to commence on July 5th, but as was usually the case, I wanted a little more.
Among my favorite trio recordings of the 1930s were those made by Stacy, along with Bud Freeman and George Wettling in 1938. They had recorded seven selections for Commodore, among the first records released by that legendary label, and I always thought they were outstanding performance. I had Jess Stacy, I thought, why not see if I could arrange for Bud freeman to be in town at the same time, find a compatible drummer and see if the time machine might work.
As it turned out, Jess was willing, I found Bud between engagements, Phyllis Condon allowed him the use of the spare room at her apartment, and Cliff Leeman was the perfect George Wettling substitute. I planned on recording the trio the day after I finished the solo recording with Jess.
It was a simple affair and worked as well as could have been expected. Jess actually played better in the trio setting than as a soloist the day before, or at least he was more relaxed and ready to take more chances. Bud just did what Bud always did, play pretty, play hot, and come up with lots of variations on the groundbreaking material he’d fashioned in the late 1920s and into the 1930s. I’ve always thought that Bud didn’t get the recognition he should have; he was playing music in 1928 that was far superior to that being played by some saxophonists who have loftier reputations.
There were four originals on the date, largely based on Bud’s improvisations. They had no titles and he didn’t offer any. Since John DeVries was scheduled to design the cover, I suggested to him that he not only come up with a design, but name the songs and write the liner notes. He carried out all four assignments with customary aplomb.
He signed the liner notes Lawrence “Bud” Freeman. It is perhaps the funniest liner I’ve ever read. Bud was the ultimate Anglophile and in deference to his love of all things English, John titled the songs Toad In the Hole Part II, Kick In the Ascot, Evelyn Wabash Blues and Leeman, Freeman and Nod. I don’t know if Jess was concerned that he was “nod” but if he was he never said anything about it. But he was always pretty quite.
I had the Rolleiflex loaded with Daylight high speed Ektachrome and ready on a tripod to capture the moment. When the last note was gobbled by the tape recorder, we pulled the microphones aside, moved the piano forward out of the corner and I asked the guys to hold still for a moment. The only light source was the studio skylight. I used up one roll and this is the most cheerful of the batch, and is probably the last time Jess and Bud were together. The Ektachome held up very well and didn’t require any color correction. I wish this were always the case. The music also holds up, but with artists like these, forgotten, as they may be these days, it always holds up, ready to be enjoyed another day.
Jess Stacy, Bud Freeman, and Cliff Leeman, WARP Studios, New York City, July 6, 1974
viagra pfizer uk
Posted in on July 09, 2010 by