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Discography October 1942 0001

Discography October 1942 0001

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, PETER TANNER recalls an evening with MUGGSY SPANIERt

It was way back in the summer of 1939, that evening, with Muggsy Spanier at the College Inn of Chicago’s Hotel Sherman; but I only have to spin, any one of those fine sides that the Ragtime Band cut for Victor, to bring it back to me as though it were yesterday. . . . And how I wish it were! .

It was 'long about midnight when Ted Toll, then on the 'Down Beat' staff, and I, strolled in. The room, not unlike Lyons' Corner House Brasserie on a «mall scale, was not crowded, but the audience, such as it was, knew it was hearing something out of the ordinary. There' were few dancers, most people prefering to remain at their tables, sip their beer, and listen. It was that kind of an audience. After all, even Chicago doesn’t often get the opportunity of hearing George Brunies, Rod Cless, Ray McKmstrey. Pat Pattison, Bob Casey, 'Marty Greenberg, George Zack and Muggsy, playing righteous jazz; and this was about as righteous as any white jazz I have heard ' _ .. "'f . " " - - ;±‘' - _ ... ..

' At the finigh of the set Muggsy came over to our table to say hello to Ted. Ted introduced me, and Muggsy immediately started firing qnest|§is at me about the band. Did I like it? Did I think it had the fire of the .great white bands of the old days? And so on.

Before I had had time to give any sort of-an answer, Muggsy was off again this time on the subject, of his pianist George Zack. Muggsy, it appeared, had a very high opinion of him. It was well-founded too: Remember his solo in "Da Da Strain’’, for instance? And he's been doing all right ever since.

Pretty-soon it was time for the next set and Muggsy swung the band into "Jazz Me Blues” with Brunies playing in a way that Ted Lewis seldom allowed, and Muggsy hitting it hard with fine, sure open comet. Then George Zack slipped lazily into slow tempo, Muggsy picked up his plunger mute, and for the next fifteen minutes or so it was the blues; the blues with a feeling. . . Eight musicians playing the music they understood the way they wanted to play it.

Muggsy joined us again after that, wiping the perspiration from his furrowed brow. He didn’t have to ask us if that had been

good. He had the pleased look of the artist, who has given of his best and knows it. ^

“I’m trying to play the kind of music I used to play with Tesch and the old Chi gang,” he told us presently. "All the same, I want it to be up-to-date too. I want it to have *he old Chicago and New Orleans tradition, and yet be something contemporary

and distinctive.” -

Muggsy pretty well succeed^ in doin8 this, and it does seem to me, at any rate, to be one of the tragedies of white jazz, that

he was unable to keep this band 8°ing- His present and much larger combination is good, above average even, but it lacks the

spontaneous musicianship ^ old RagtWe Band- - , '. ' . .