Jack Teagarden • Rare And Obscure Recordings From the 1930s

When Jack Teagarden (1905-64) arrived in New York in 1927, he created a bit of a sensation in the jazz world. Sounding years ahead of the usual percussive style, his trombone playing had the fluency of a trumpeter while balancing his very impressive self-taught technique with a bluesy style. He was soon in great demand, working with Ben Pollack and Red Nichols among others.

The music on Upbeat’s Rare And Obscure Recordings, all of which was recorded in 1930, falls into the “among others” category. With the beginning of the Depression and the popularity of radio, many of the top white jazz artists during the segregated times were enlisted to work in anonymous radio and studio orchestras. The lucrative work, while often dull, allowed the more technically skilled players a way to make it through the dark Depression years.

Red Wood Coast

On this CD, Teagarden is heard playing dance music with orchestras led by Ben Selvin, Sam Lanin, and, in one case (the relatively lively “Accordion Joe”), Cornell. While there are a few other jazz artists (some unidentified) in these orchestras including trumpeters Bob Effros and Manny Klein, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Adrian Rollini, Rube Bloom, Arthur Schutt, Carl Kress, and Dick McDonough, their playing is largely confined to written-out ensembles and very brief solos.

The singers include Smith Ballew, Paul Smith, Artie Dunn, Irving Kaufman, Scrappy Lambert, and the Mariners. The recording quality and musicianship are top-notch but the main purposes of these performances were to sell the song and provide danceable music rather than to feature hot jazz soloists. While many of the songs are likable enough and could have been used as vehicles for jazz soloing (best known are “Little White Lies,” “Rolling Down The River,” and “Happy Days Are Here Again”), the musicians are restricted to the arrangements.

Teagarden has few opportunities to strut his stuff during this program, just having occasional short solos that never exceed a chorus and are often shorter. He does take one very brief wordless vocal on the alternate take of “Thank Your Father” that makes that performance a curiosity but otherwise he is a generally an underutilized member of the large ensembles.

Hot Jazz Jubile

While this CD should not be acquired with the hope of hearing some great Jack Teagarden, those who collect first-class early 1930s dance music will find the melodic music to be enjoyable.

Jack Teagarden
Rare And Obscure Recordings From the 1930s
Upbeat URCD 336

Scott Yanow

Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for AllMusic.com. He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.

Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

Or look at our Subscription Options.