Friday, 5 July 2013

17. Alex Hill: Ain't It Nice? 1928-1934

Alex Hill is not a name that immediately springs to mind when considering early jazz recordings. His name cropped up when I was researching into various other, perhaps more notable, piano players. Yet curiosity got the better of me and I ended up listening to this little gem of an album. What we have here is the late 20's and early 30's Chicago jazz sound. Right from the off, "Parkway Stomp", encapsulates the way jazz was being played at this time - heavily influenced by the likes of Armstrong, Morton, Beiderbecke and Ellington. The song "Chicago Rhythm" may not have been heard much over the 1920's airwaves yet it is a song definitely of it's time with an infectious syncopated beat held down by a tuba with a wailing clarinet.

Hill eventually ended up in New York in the early 30's after a period playing at the Savoy Ballroom. As an accomplished arranger and pianist he worked with the likes of Chu Berry, drummer "Big" Sid Catlett, Eddie Condon and tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman. The latter can be heard to wonderful effect on the sublime track "The Eel". As a piano player Hill was no slouch either as evidenced by great songs like "Stomping 'En Down" and "Tack Head Blues". He was held in such high regard that Irving Mills asked him in the mid 30's to fill in for Duke Ellington who had found himself indisposed.

1. Parkway Stomp
2. Mississippi Wobble
3. She's Funny That Way
4. Shake That Jelly Roll
5. Chicago Rhythm
6. Once or Twice
7. The Eel
8. Tennessee Twilight
9. Madam Dynamite
10. Home Cooking
11. Stompin' 'em Down
12. Tack Head Blues
13. Dyin' With the Blues
14. Toogaloo Shout
15. St. James Infirmary
16. Southbound (1)
17. Southbound (2)
18. I'm Having My Fun
19. You've Had Your Way
20. Ain't It Nice?
21. Functionizin'
22. Song of the Plow
23. Let's Have a Jubilee