“JAZZ MASQUERADE” UNMASKED
This research was originally published in the Dutch discography journal, Names & Numbers, No. 48, January 2009, in slightly different form.
© James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved.
The Bihari brothers established their record empire beginning in late 1944 with the Modern Music label. Jules Bihari had a keen ear for talent and the rooster of artists recording for Modern soon numbered in the dozens with genres including Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Spirituals, Dixieland, Hillbilly and Western swing. The Biharis also released a number of Jazz albums in their 78 rpm series by licensing recordings from Gene Norman which primarily were drawn from Norman’s “Just Jazz” concerts.
Modern catalogues from the period typically list the release number and tunes with a simple “Just Jazz” credit, no artist information. However the labels on these 78 releases would list personnel on the recordings. But this “Just Jazz” credit set a precedent which carries over to the present day with most jazz discographies listing these sessions under Gene Norman as well as the nominal leader of the session.
Modern Records began to issue their catalogue on 45 RPM singles and extended play formats when that technology was introduced. The Biharis also adopted the 33 1/3 RPM format when the industry moved to embrace the LP standard. Initial releases on Modern Records utilized the 10” LP format, but that was abandoned when the 12” format became available. Many of the first releases on Modern LPs recycled music that had been originally released on Modern 78s.
The Biharis introduced another label imprint around 1953, Crown Records, with the first releases on 78s, then 45s and LPs. Several Crown releases have attained a “cult” status among discographers for their sheer lack of details, mislabeling, wrong information, etc. A prime example is Crown CLP 5009, JAZZ MASQUERADE. This article will attempt to advance the correct identification for tracks on this album that had multiple pressings with different tracks. JAZZ MASQUERADE was released on the Modern Records label initially.
The release number for JAZZ MASQUERADE on Modern Records was LMP 1209. The two sets of labels above differ slightly. The first set shows an “Re” after the matrix number on side one. The second set has an “Re” after the matrix number on side two. The two sets could represent the second and third pressing where the first pressing would have matrices [MMLP-1209-1] and [MM LP-1209-2], no “Re” for remastering.
When the Biharis launched the Crown label JAZZ MASQUERADE was released as CLP 5009 with the new Crown logo on the front jacket and labels.
The back liner was identical except the LMP 1209 was replaced with the new Crown number, CLP 5009.
The pressing for this release on Crown used the same stampers that had been used for the Modern releases, adding the Crown matrix numbers opposite the original Modern matrices in the wax. The tracks on these Modern and Crown releases were identical but the true title and source of the music is another matter.
BIG BOY Pt. I & II has often been confused with the release of the same title by the Lighthouse All-Stars on Skylark SK-538. It is the same composition by Jimmy Giuffre, and it could have been from a Gene Norman “Just Jazz” concert as Norman frequently licensed these recordings to Modern for release or it could have been a concert at one of Hunter Hancock’s jazz concerts at the Olympic Auditorium. The announcer on the record has a distinctive “radio” voice and could have been either Hancock or Norman. Members of the Giuffre orchestra on the Modern recording are not known. The source is a Modern 78 single, Modern 875 A/B.
The third track on side one of CLP 5009, C-JAM BLUES, defies identification. A version of “C” JAM BLUES from a December 27, 1947, “Just Jazz” concert was issued by the Bihari’s on a Modern 78 rpm release, 20-696A, and later on Crown CLP 5008, JAZZ SURPRISE, but the versions are different. The author has compiled a database of all known 78 releases on the Modern label and there is only the one version of “C” JAM BLUES on Modern 20-696A.
With the fourth track on CLP 5009 we encounter a shrewd practice of the Bihari brothers. It is titled WHY NOT (a Tiny Kahn tune) on the back liner with a publishing credit to the composer-lyricist team of Taub-Ling. If this team does not ring a note of recognition among the greats of the era it is no surprise. Taub was a pseudonym for Jules Bihari, Jules Taub, and Ling was a pseudonym for Samuel Bihari, Sam Ling. The tune is actually HOT HOUSE Pt. I (the Tadd Dameron tune), from Modern 20-694A. The personnel are listed on the label: Howard McGhee (tp), Sonny Criss (as), Wardell Gray (ts), Dodo Marmarosa (p), Charlie Drayton (b), Jackie Mills, (d). Most discographers are in agreement that this is from the first Gene Norman “Just Jazz” Concert, Civic Auditorium, Pasadena, CA, April 29, 1947.
The reverse side, Modern 20-694B, continued with HOT HOUSE Pt. II. The full version reissued by French Vogue times at 6’11” whereas the Pt. I version on CLP 5009 times at just under three minutes, 2’58”.
From left: Irving Ashby (g); Charlie Drayton (b); Wardell Gray (ts); Benny Carter (as); Jackie Mills d); Howard McGhee (tp).
Gene Norman's Just Jazz Concert, Civic Auditorium, Pasadena, CA, April 29, 1947.
The review of this concert by Charlie Emge in the May 21, 1947 issue of Down Beat noted that the “audience likes bebop” and that McGhee, Criss, and Gray were particularly received with great favor by the audience.
The fifth track on side one is listed on the back liner as YOU ARE TOO BEAUTIFUL, but the first pressing of Crown CLP 5009 (master #CLP 5009-1) listed the tune as YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL. Most discographies list the following as possible personnel for the session: Benny Carter And His All Stars: Chuck Peterson (tp), Vic Dickenson (tb), Benny Carter (tp, as), Ben Webster (ts), Dodo Marmarosa (p), John Simmons or Charles Drayton (b), Jackie Mills (d), Los Angeles, May 1949.
It was originally released as Modern 865. The Benny Carter biography, BENNY CARTER – A LIFE IN AMERICAN MUSIC, Morroe Berger, Ed Berger, & James Patrick, Scarecrow Press, 2nd Edition, 2001, states that Benny Carter recalled in an interview that the session was actually with Ben Webster as leader and that he does not solo on this tune or the “A” side, SURF BOARD. One could surmise that Benny Carter objected to it being included on this anonymous collection and it was removed. The Bihari’s also state on the back liner that the reason that the musicians are anonymous is also due to their being under contract to other recording firms.
The second pressing of Crown CLP 5009 changed the master number to (CLP 5009-1 N) and YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL was replaced with JOE IS DOWN, a rhythm and blues number by Joe Houston. The tune originally was released on a Texas R&B label, Macy’s Records, as Macy’s 5017, and was licensed by Jules Bihari who signed Houston to the label and reissued it as Modern 830.
The actual title of the track is BLOW JOE BLOW and the personnel are: Joe Houston (ts), Auguste "Dimes" Dupont (as), Walter Miller (tp), Marian Houston (p), Robert Gray (b) Robert Byrd (d). Details regarding the sidemen on this Joe Houston session were included in the booklet accompanying the recent ACE (UK) CD reissue, Joe Houston Blows Crazy, ACE CDCHD 772. ACE gives a date of 1951 for the recording. The Modern Records pressing might have been from the original Macy's stampers as “5017” is in the wax opposite the ACA matrices that were used by Macy's.
The first track on side two, FLYING HOME, is another R&B number from the Bihari Modern vault, this time featuring Gene Phillips and His Rhythm Aces. Various artists would pass through his group that remained The Rhythm Aces, and the exact personnel on this date are not known other than Maxwell Davis on tenor. Other musicians who played on Phillips dates included Marshall Royal, Jack McVea, Bumps Meyers, Willard McDaniel, Lloyd Glenn, Bill Street, Art Edwards, and Al “Cake” Wichard.
The original release of FLYING HOME, Modern 20-614, has been reissued on CD by ACE (UK) on Gene Phillips Swinging The Blues, ACE CDCHD 746. It times at 2’27” whereas the Crown CLP 5009 version times at 2’34” with the difference being the crowd noise and applause which was added to the Crown release and is not present on the original Modern 78. The enterprising Bihari’s reissued Modern 20-614 as NEW FLYING HOME on RPM 332 under the leadership of Lloyd Glenn and featuring Maxwell Davis on tenor sax. It is this version that the Bihari’s used on the Crown LP reissue which has the identical timing with the addition of crowd noise and applause on RPM 332. ACE dates the original Modern 78 release as being from 1948.
The practice of adding artificial crowd noise and applause was a fairly common practice among record producers who thought it added the aura of a live performance with crowd reaction to musician solos. But if one gives NEW FLYING HOME an attentive listening the crowd reactions are not timed precisely to musical events such as the beginning or end of a solo or a brilliant high note being achieved.
The second track on side two throws another curve ball to the unwary discographer. A search of R&B releases on the Bihari’s RPM label reveals a Jimmy Jackson tune entitled STOMPIN on RPM 349 and one could assume that this is indeed what the Bihari’s used for the Crown release, a dangerous assumption knowing the Bihari’s disregard for listing details correctly. In this case one is half right as the performing artist is listed as Jimmy Jackson, however the tune listed as STOMPIN is actually the B side of RPM 352, a tune credited to Jimmy Jackson & His Orchestra entitled SNOW PLOW. There are two saxes present on this tune that exchange honking passages reminiscent of the exchanges that Big “Jay” McNeeley and his brother Bob McNeeley made famous on their R&B hits around this time.
The personnel listing for RPM 352 does not list any individual members for Jimmy Jackson and His Orchestra, but the aforementioned RPM release with the right title, RPM 349, does list musicians that were present for the recordings of STOMPIN and HONKIN. They were: Jimmy Jackson (ts), Mitchell Webb (g), Davonia Williams (p), Bill Hadnott (b), and Al “Cake” Wichard (d). One should note that the credit for SNOW PLOW is shared by Jackson and Taub.
The third track on side two, DEEP PURPLE, has been reissued by ACE RECORDS (UK) on “Let’s Jump! Swingin’ Humdingers from Modern Records” – ACE CDCHD 809. The author of the liner notes, Billy Vera, states that “Jimmy Jackson” was also a pseudonym that Benny Carter used on some his Bihari sessions and that this track features Carter’s orchestra with Ben Webster credited for the silky tenor sax work.
If indeed this is the case, STOMPIN' (track two side two of CLP 5009) might be a Benny Carter session featuring Ben Webster, SNOW PLOW (from RPM 352). Perhaps Carter and Webster did not want to sully their jazz reputations and credentials by being identified as playing in the “down in the gutter” rhythm and blues style. The master numbers for the Jimmy Jackson and Benny Carter sessions add to the confusion:
Jimmy Jackson All Stars - RPM 349 - HONKIN (master 1765)
Jimmy Jackson All Stars - RPM 349 - STOMPIN (master 1766)
Benny Carter and His All Stars - Modern 858 - COTTON TAIL (master 1767)
Benny Carter and His All Stars - Modern 858 - TIME OUT FOR BLUES (master 1768)
Jimmy Jackson & His Orchestra - RPM 352 - DEEP PURPLE (master 1769)
Jimmy Jackson & His Orchestra - RPM 352 - SNOW PLOW (master 1770)
The A side of RPM 352, DEEP PURPLE, is the Mitchell Parrish and Peter DeRose composition that gained widespread popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. The Bihari’s wisely adopted a “hands off” policy regarding the tune credit as any attempt to retitle this widely known tune would have surely incurred the wrath of DeRose and Parrish.
The fourth track on side two presents another jazz discography conundrum regarding the correct personnel listing for STEADY TEDDY as listed on the back liner and label of Crown CLP 5009. It is actually COOL FANTASY Part II from Modern 20-618B.
The label lists H. McGhee, G. Wilson – Trumpets; V. Bittle – Piano; C. Mingus, Bass; T. Edwards, C. Parker, J. King, L. Thompson – Saxophones, V. Dickerson, Trombone; and R. Porter, Drums.
Most jazz discographers agree that Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus are not present on this recording which leaves one to wonder why the Bihari’s bothered to list personnel if they were not accurate.
The personnel listed below agree with the musicians listed in Roy Porter’s biography, There and Back, published by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1991, pages 170-171.
The Vogue (UK) 78 release on V 2049 (Part 1 shown) continued to list Parker and Mingus as being present on the recording and corrected the spelling of Vernon Biddle and Dickenson. Most discographers now accept the following: Howard McGhee, Snooky Young, Karl George (tp); Vic Dickenson, Gene Roland (tb); Robert Isabell (as); Eugene Porter, Teddy Edwards, James D. King (ts); Vernon Biddle (p); Bob Kesterson (b); and Roy Porter (d), Hollywood, September 1945.
The fifth, and last track on side two is titled BEN’S MOOD and it is actually TIME OUT FOR BLUES, originally issued on Modern 858.
The aforementioned ACE CD CDCHD 809 - “Let’s Jump! Swingin’ Humdingers from Modern Records” - also includes TIME OUT FOR BLUES and another Benny Carter All Stars tune, COTTON TAIL (the reverse side of Modern 858). All three have the same “aural” background sound and have crowd noise present suggesting that the three tunes were recorded in front of a live audience. The Benny Carter biography, BENNY CARTER – A LIFE IN AMERICAN MUSIC, Morroe Berger, Ed Berger, & James Patrick, Scarecrow Press, 2nd Edition, 2001, states that the crowd noise on the above tracks is dubbed in.
The authors once again point out that when interviewing Benny Carter for their book that Carter recalled that the session was actually a Ben Webster session. The date given is May of 1949 with the following personnel as possible: Benny Carter (as), Chuck Peterson (tp), Vic Dickenson (tb), Ben Webster (ts), Dodo Marmarosa (p), John Simmons or Charles Drayton (b), and Jackie Mills (d). Note the Jules Taub credit for TIME OUT FOR BLUES.
The author sampled the crowd noise at the beginning of COTTON TAIL and TIME OUT FOR BLUES and was able to identify a segment that sounded exactly the same. Samples of the two segments were then amplified to produce more definition in the wave form with the resulting evidence confirming that indeed the crowd noise on these two tracks is identical and most likely dubbed in and not part of the original recording in the recording studio. The same aural segment is present at the beginning of DEEP PURPLE but it is sampled a little later and does not provide the same full match as noted below.
Perhaps it is this use of the same “dubbed in” crowd noise on all three tracks that led Billy Vera to assume they were recorded at a live concert (or as he states, the “same session”) with the same musician line up. An intriguing question that remains masked.
In summation we now know the source of most of the tracks issued on JAZZ MASQUERADE (Crown CLP 5009) but the identity of the individual musicians playing on some of these tracks will continue to be a source of speculation for the foreseeable future in the jazz discography community. The author is indebted to Ken Poston and the Los Angeles Jazz Institute, without whose assistance this article would not be possible. The author would also like to thank Bill McClung who generously bestowed his copy of Modern 865 on the author.
A third version of JAZZ MASQUERADE was released, this version used the same William Claxton cover with all of the musicians wearing masks, but the jacket has a white border around the photo AND most of the tunes are mislabeled! This third version will be examined in a separate post in the future. See link below: