Friday, October 14, 2005

Count Bingula presents: Scott roots and rock roots.

This MYPWHAE/Vintage Lounge simulpost brought to you by Count Bingula.

Count Bingula (a.k.a. Bingo) says, "Goot day!" The Count recently discovered an interesting Raymond Scott precursor, along with a couple of rock-roots tracks, and all in the person(s) of The Dorsey Brothers. The Count is so excited by these finds, he can't sleep. Hence, he's stayed up well into the daylight hours (see above). He's been after me to get this post done, so I'd better do the Count's bidding.

The Scott-roots track is a once-famous number penned by Jimmy Dorsey called Oodles of Noodles (1932). Not too long ago, I posted Percy Faith's big-violin 1949 version, which is excellent in its own right but not very Scott-ish. So, what do we have here? We have Jimmy Dorsey's alto sax speeding along in Scott-style 16th notes, we have a tempo change for the moody middle section (more of a shift in rhythm(s); the speed change isn't as drastic as it seems), and we have the same kind of "modern" chords and jazzy syncopation. Note the +11 chord in the second strain, which later became Jimmy's radio theme, Contrasts. Oh, and note the silly, cartoon-style title. Keep telling yourself, "Nobody else wrote music like Raymond Scott's. Nobody else, etc."

Oodles of Noodles (J. Dorsey), The Dorsey Brothers, 1932.

The following three Dorsey Brothers sides feature superbly imaginative arrangements, probably by chief arranger Glenn Miller. Here's where I have to agree 100 percent with Scott (as opposed to his extollers), who regarded Miller as the best talent on the block. No argument here. The rock roots consist of the extreme gospel feel of 1934's Annie's Cousin Fanny (composed by Miller!) and the somewhat prominent rock-style backbeat; also, the no-nonsense, highly pronounced boogie-woogie of Milenburg Joys (1934), and Stop, Look and Listen (1934).

Annie's Cousin Fanny (Miller), The Dorsey Brothers, 1934. (Step aside, Hank Ballard!)

Milenberg Joys, The Dorsey Brothers, 1934.

Stop, Look and Listen, The Dorsey Brothers, 1934.

Glenn Miller, a rock-roots arranger? The idea isn't as far-fetched as it seems, by any means. Besides, rock historians are always telling us that gospel, blues, and boogie-woogie are in the Top 5 of rock influences, and all three things are powerfully present here. So, we're virtually compelled to agree with Count Bingula on these matters, I think.

In time, I'll post an amazing Glenn Miller Orchestra side called The Hop, which was composed by none other than Ray Conniff. It's a fast swing number that builds and builds in intensity, finally settling into twelve-bar-blues choruses and an afterbeat that threatens to bounce the stylus off the platter. Miller and Conniff, apparently, were at the hop years before any teen quartets arrived.



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