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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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THE FIVE PENNIES

and the Gene Krupa Story

Blue Moon BMCD 3511

 

 

The Five Pennies

1. Main Title

2. The Five Pennies

3. After You're Gone

4. Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home

5. Indiana Radio Montage

6. Back Home Again in Indiana

7. Good Night, Sleep Tight

8. Lullaby in Ragtime

9. Battle Hymn of the Republic

10. The Five Pennies Saints

11. College Montage

12. Good Night, Sleep Tight Medley

13. Just the Blues

14. Carnival of Venice

15. The Music Goes Round and Round

16. Wail of the Winds

17. Jingle Bells

18. The Five Pennies Finale / Battle Hymn of the Republic Finale

Studio Orchestra

Leith Stevens – Conductor

Bobby Goodrich, Clyde Hurley, Dick Cathcart, Mannie Klein – Trumpets

Warren Smith, Pete Beilman – Trombones

Matty Matlock – Clarinet, alto sax

Stan Wrightsman – Piano

George Van Eps, Allen Reuss – Guitars

Jack Sperling, Nick Fatool – Drums

Red Nichols and his (augmented) Five Pennies

Red Nichols – Trumpet, cornet

Elmer “Moe” Schneider – Trombone

Heinie Beau – Clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax

Benny Carter – Alto sax

Wayne Songer – Alto sax, baritone sax

Eddie Miller – Tenor sax

Joe Rushton – Bass sax

Gene Plummer – Piano

Morty Corb – Bass

Shelly Manne – Drums

Louis Armstrong & his All Stars

Louis Armstrong – Trumpet, vocals

Trummy Young – Trombone

Peanuts Hucko – Clarinet

Billy Kyle – Piano

Mort Herbert, Curtis Counce – Bass

Danny Barcelona - Drums

The Gene Krupa Story

19. Main Title

20. I Love My Baby

21. Royal Garden Blues

22. Indiana “Jam Session”

23. Spiritual Jazz

24. Cherokee

25. Indiana “Montage”

26. Memories of You

27. Way Down Yonder in New Orleans

28. Song of India

29. Finale

Studio Orchestra

Leith Stevens – Conductor, arranger

Pete Candoli, Conrad Gozzo, Ray Triscari, Joe Triscari – Trumpets

Ed Kusby, Murray McEachern, Tommy Pedersen, George Roberts – Trombones

Heinie Beau – Clarinet, alto sax

Benny Carter – Alto sax

Dave Harris, Jerry Casper – Tenor saxes

Dave Pell – Baritone sax

Jimmy Rowles – Piano

Barney Kessel – Guitar

Morty Corb – Bass

Shelly Manne – Drums

John Williams, Jerry Williams – Percussion

Gene Krupa Combo

Red Nichols – Cornet

Moe Schneider – Trombone

Heinie Beau – Clarinet,

Benny Carter – Alto sax

Eddie Miller – tenor sax

Jess Stacy – Piano

Barney Kessel - Guitar

Morty Corb – Bass

Gene Krupa - Drums

 

As a part-time jazz musician, I often think that a good film could be made by following musicians in their working lives. However, Hollywood producers never seem to think that this is enough: they have to add unbelievable plot devices which they think will make a good story. So in movies we have Glenn Miller presenting June Allyson with a string of pearls while his band plays a tune called – guess what! – A String of Pearls. And someone says to Benny Goodman “Don’t be that way, Benny”, whereupon Goodman plays a song called Don’t Be That Way.

This CD contains the music from two musical film biographies, both released in 1959. of Red Nichols and Gene Krupa. The Nichols film was called The Five Pennies because that was what Nichols called his various bands, even though they often contained twice as many as five musicians. The Nichols story might have had some mileage in it but the producers had to sentimentalise the story, as one can tell from the titles of such songs as Good Night, Sleep Tight. And having cast Danny Kaye in the role of Red Nichols, they had to give him the chance to show his comic talents with a couple of gibberish songs. Red Nichols himself played the cornet solos which Kaye was shown miming on screen.

The saving grace of the film is Louis Armstrong, who sings and plays on several numbers, including After You’ve Gone with his All Stars (though it only lasts for one-and-a-quarter minutes) and The Five Pennies Saints (which is mainly the excuse for a comedy duet with Danny Kaye). Just the Blues contains some classic Satchmo soloing, but for less than two minutes. With a line-up that includes such great jazz names as Matty Matlock, Eddie Miller, Benny Carter and Shelly Manne, one might have expected a far more jazzy soundtrack than we have here.

The Gene Krupa Story is much better – at least, from the jazz fans’ point of view. Krupa himself played most of the drum solos which Sal Mineo mimed so skillfully on the screen. Not everyone likes drum solos (I do) but it was educative to see in the movie what Gene probably looked like in his young days. And those sequences suggest that Krupa became an icon because of the visibly energetic way he attacked the drums. Most of his solos were based on the single-stroke roll but he added a visual component which was novel as well as exciting. The CD conveys some of that dynamism, although you really need to buy the DVD to get the full impact.

There is also a brief jam session on Indiana which includes short solos from Benny Carter and Jess Stacy. Red Nichols appears as part of the Gene Krupa Combo on Way Down Yonder in New Orleans. It is also good to hear Anita O’Day singing Memories of You.

From the jazz enthusiast’s point of view, the Krupa soundtrack is superior to the Five Pennies one, but this is a well-packed CD lasting 70 minutes.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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