Sunday, 26 January 2014

21. Chick Webb: Spinnin´ The Webb

Two words that probably sum up Chick Webb´s Orchestra in the 1930´s: fearsome and feared. Not many bands survived a musical cutting contest with these guys and some would argue that Webb was indeed the true King of Swing. He was one of the first to integrate the drums into a jazz band, not as merely an instrument for keeping time, but as one that added a new flavour to the music. As the leader of the orchestra he would pave the way for the likes of Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson. He was also the man responsible for putting Ella Fitzgerald on the map.

This anthology takes us from Webb´s pre-swing roots in the late 1920´s to his untimely death in 1939. Dog Bottom and Jungle Mamma kick things off from a session recorded for Brunswick in 1929. The arrangements of Benny Carter can be heard in the subsequent two tracks Heebie Jeebies and Blues In My Heart. The rest of the album are from 1934 to 1939 when Webb began recording for Decca and also began his tenure as the leader of the house band for the Savoy Ballroom in New York. Don´t Be That Way is an instantly recognisable song from the era. It was arranged by alto saxophonist Edgar Sampson who also had a hand in arranging Blue Lou and Swinging At The Savoy (although the latter is omitted from this anthology).

And if you are looking for evidence of Webb´s drumming chops then look no further than Clap Hands! Here Comes Charlie! and Liza.  Unfortunately there aren´t enough recordings of Webb and no actual footage of his playing live exists. This album is therefore a musical snapshot of a man who was something of a colossus in his time and deserves further recognition.

1. Dog Bottom (2:39)
2. Jungle Mama (3:15)
3. Heebie Jeebies (3:08)
4. (I'm Left With The) Blues in My Heart (3:09)
5. Lona (2:47)
6. Blue Minor (3:03)
7. Don't Be That Way (2:35)
8. What a Shuffle (2:53)
9. Blue Lou (3:01)
10. Go Harlem (2:21)
11. Clap Hands! Here Comes Charlie (2:29)
12. That Naughty Waltz (2:57)
13. I Got Rhythm (2:33)
14. Squeeze Me (3:09)
15. Harlem Congo (3:17)
16. Midnight in a Madhouse (2:32)
17. Spinnin' The Webb (3:03)
18. Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away) (2:40)
19. Who Ya Hunchin' (2:52)
20. In the Groove at the Grove (2:38)