Battle Hymn Of The Republic [3:27]
TOTAL PLAYING TIME: [78:18]
This disc presents 25 songs from Dick Cathcart’s recording career
between 1950 and 1959.
Dick was a well-rounded jazz trumpet player who could play any
type of jazz or popular music, but became best known as a Dixieland
musician, with beautiful technique, sound and melodic phrasing.
He was born in 1924 in Michigan City, Indiana and learned the
clarinet at the age of four. Dick began playing trumpet and cornet
as a teenager, and performed with Ray McKinley’s band in the New
York area and later with Alvino Rey. During the war, Dick played
with the U.S. Army Air Force Band, and later with big bands led
by Ray Noble, Bob Crosby, Gordon Jenkins, Juan Tizol and Ben Pollack.
In 1951 his friend, actor Jack Webb hired him to lead a jazz band
and play trumpet for Jack’s radio series Pete Kelly’s Blues,
a weekly half-hour radio drama with story lines full of guns,
gangsters, girls, cops, and jazz, centered around a 1920’s Kansas
City speak-easy. The band itself became known as Pete Kelly’s
Big Seven, and later played in the 1955 film Pete Kelly’s
Blues. The Big Seven went on performing for several more
years on their own, and featured Dick on trumpet leading a fine
assortment of various jazz artists, including clarinetist Matty
Matlock, drummer Nick Fatool, and pianist Ray Sherman. About half
of the numbers on this disc are performances of some version of
Pete Kelly’s Big Seven. Dick went on to become the lead trumpet
player for the Lawrence Welk Orchestra from 1962 to 1968, and
performed on the weekly television show for six years. He met
Peggy Lennon, one of the singing Lennon Sisters, on the show and
the two later married.
The title song Pete Kelly’s Blues was composed by Ray
Heindorf in 1955, and it was recorded for RCA Victor the same
year. Ray was a noted composer, conductor and arranger from New
York who began his music career as a piano player for silent films.
He moved to California in 1929 and spent the next forty years
arranging and conducting music for Warner Bros. studios. Ray passed
away in 1980, buried with his favorite conducting baton. His song
Pete Kelly’s Blues is a beautiful slow blues ballad,
arranged with melodic solos performed by Dick and trombonist Moe
Schneider. Dick recorded a tribute album to Bix Biederbeck in
December 1958 titled BIX MCMLIX for Warner Bros., backed
by Warren Barker’s orchestra. Warren was a talented composer and
arranger who wrote primarily for the television and movie industries,
including 20th Century Fox, MGM, Columbia Studios,
and the National Broadcasting Company, and composed music for
more than 30 television series during the 1960’s and 70’s. His
orchestra featured an outstanding group of musicians, including
a top quartet of trumpeters; Dick, Frank Beach, George Werth,
and George Wendt. The group swings easily through a fine arrangement
of Bix’s 1927 composition In A Mist, with a bright brass
front line melody alternating with piano runs by Paul Smith. Dick
composed Fat Annie’s Place in 1959, and the Big Seven
recorded it in April, 1959 with a slow, slinky 12-bar blues arrangement
featuring a short but sweet solo by Matty Matlock on clarinet.
The band also recorded Chinatown, My Chinatown during
the same session, opening the song with a Chinese gong, followed
by drummer Nick Fatools tapping out a giddy rhythm with chop sticks
and bells, setting the band up for a raucous, rousing rush to
the finish with two minutes of delightful Dixieland delirium.
This is an outstanding collection of songs from Dick Cathcart’s
career. A 12-page booklet is included, with notes and comments
by jazz trumpeter and author Digby Fairweather. Ray Crick compiled
the music, and Martin Haskell performed the audio restoration
and remastering. The sound quality is very good.