Album Notes

by Will Friedwald

This may sound like a left-field introduction to this exceptional album by Glenn Crytzer, but bear with me: have you ever heard any of the classic big bands of the 1930s as recorded by the Associated transcription service? (Technically, the company was known as “Associated Music Publishers” and in 1936, their office was located at 25 West 46th St, Manhattan.)  The recordings made by Associated sound very different from the standard 78 RPM singles that were commercially released by the various labels, major and minor, and they also sound very different from the other transcription services at the time, like Thesaurus, Standard, or MacGregor. The Associated recordings all sound like they were made in a huge studio space, with lots of reverb, and plenty of sonic space around the instruments; they’re incredibly “live,” as an engineer might say.  When you listen to the Associated recordings of, say, the John Kirby Sextet, Teddy Wilson, the Ray Noble Orchestra, or that rather amazing 1934 Joe Venuti big band date (with Louis Prima and Red Norvo), just to name a couple, there’s a very specific kind of a disconnect happening. You don’t quite feel like you’re listening to historical recordings from 80 years ago, but you know they’re not newly-recorded either. They seem to exist in a unique space all their own, one that’s completely timeless.

That’s the same way that this album landed upon my ears: it doesn’t quite feel like any kind of a recreation, rather it seems like some contemporary scientist who specializes in both sound recording and astrophysics found a way to send a microphone drone into the past and make new recordings of historical big bands.  I had a similar sensation when I watched the 2013 re-release of The Wizard of Oz, in which the classic 1939 film was re-jigged somehow for two 21st century movie technologies, digital 3D and IMAX.  (I’ve also heard the original soundtrack adapted for 5.1 surround sound on DVD.) The 3D IMAX Oz was fascinating and highly illuminating.  Naturally, going forward, I would still want to re-watch The Wizard of Oz in the original 1939 format again - this might have been just a one-off experience - but that it gave me a whole new way to look at a classic.  And that’s what this album does, it allows us to hear vintage big band swing in a whole other way, auditorily speaking, and takes classic music and makes us hear it in the audio equivalent of 3D IMAX - it’s a quite a wonderful, unique sensation.

The combination of the familiar and the unfamiliar is consistently startling, to the point where we can say that the music is being re-imagined rather than re-created.  I keep feeling like some collector friend of mine stumbled across a set of previously undocumented Associated transcriptions recorded in the immediate pre-war period. In some cases, where the tune is very familiar, I feel like these are newly-discovered versions by alternate bands, like “Jive at Five” being played by Charlie Barnet rather than Count Basie, say, or Alvino Rey playing the central guitar part on “Solo Flight” with own his orchestra back around the same time that Charlie Christian and Benny Goodman introduced it.  And this “Well Git It” makes me wonder what that classic flag waver might have sounded like if it came from the band book of Jimmy Dorsey rather than Tommy. Other tracks make me feel like I’m discovering some previously unknown local or territory band that never made it into the history books or the discographies.

Some of Glenn’s arrangements truly sound like a wrinkle in time: the North American popular song “I Get Ideas” originated in 1927 as an authentic and famous Argentine tango titled “Adios Muchachos.”  In 1951, it was adapted into “I Get Ideas” (with most of the tango rhythm extracted), wherein it became a hit for both Tony Martin and Louis Armstrong. Glenn’s treatment sounds like if some early swing bandleader - say, Alex Hill, or maybe the Mills Blue Rhythm Band - somehow got a hold of the 1951 lyrics (by Dorcas Cochrane of “Again” fame), even though they weren’t written for many years.  There’s more than a hint of Louis Armstrong in Jason Prover’s trumpet solo at the heart of it, but more like Armstrong’s 1930s big band, the one led for him by Luis Russell, rather than the groups he recorded with in the 1950s, and Crytzer’s vocal here is clearly part and parcel of the 1930s idiom.

And I find myself surprisingly impressed by Glenn’s originals; normally I try to encourage contemporary musicians and singers to avoid the temptation of writing their own original songs if only because the overwhelming majority of them are lousy at it.  (Make that extremely lousy at it!) But Glenn has succeeded in his highly commendable goal of creating new songs that sound like they were written in the late 1930s and recorded by bands of the period (if only on Associated Transcriptions). “Just Like a Broken Record,” for instance, really sounds like something that Larry Clinton would have played in a 1938 Vitaphone short - or on a 1938 buff Bluebird.  (So does “Marche Slav”; I had a hard time believing that was a new arrangement of the iconic 1876 Tchaikovsky piece, not a transcription of Clinton or Les Brown’s Blue Devils or some other historic band that specialized in “swinging the classics.”)

 

There are also plenty of surprises in the vocal department: Hannah Gill is a name new me, but a formidable singer who sounds so authentic to the period that I don’t think she would even mind if I referred to her as a “band canary.” (That term has somehow become un-PC in the millennial era, go figure.)  I know Dandy Wellington, as does anyone who has attended any kind of swing-centric event in New York, but mainly as a dancer and an emcee for contemporary retro-burlesque events - in fact, so much so whenever I hear his name and his voice, I expect to see a woman start taking off her clothes. Clearly he’s developed into the most perfectly appropriate male singer for this band on both ballads and novelties (especially “Swing My Soul”).  And Glenn also captures the idiom very well, adding vocalist to the list of many hats (and caps) that he wears, along with bandleader, arranger, conductor, composer, lyricist, and guitarist.

I’ve possibly made too much of a fuss over the way this music plays with notions of chronological time and not enough about how the music is about time in the sense that it really swings - that Glenn and his bandsmen play with a lift, a drive and a danceable imperative that’s all too rare in the 21st century.  Glenn Crytzer has, in fact, achieved something of a temporal miracle, in assembling 17 musicians and singers who have so perfectly absorbed the classic swing idiom that it’s like a language they can speak without any trace of a foreign accent. Astrophysicists may insist that time travel is impossible, but now I have cause to wonder.

 

Personnel

Glenn Crytzer (g, bj, v, dir, a) / Sam Hoyt, Mike Davis, Jason Prover (t) / Rob Edwards, Joe McDonough, Jim Fryer (tb) / Jay Rattman (as, ss, cl) / Mark Lopeman, Marc Schwartz (as, ts, cl) / Matt Koza (ts, cl) / Henry “Ricky” Alexander (as, bar, cl) / Rob Reich (p) / Ian Hutchison (sb) / Andrew Millar (d) / Hannah Gill, Dandy Wellington (v)

 

Track Listing (Disc 1)

1. The 408 Special

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer.

Solos: Lopeman, Edwards, Lopeman, Reich, Alexander, Prover, Rattman.

 

2. Black Beauty

Written and Arranged by Duke Ellington,

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer.

As recorded by Duke Ellington's Washingtonians, 3/21/1928​. (YouTube)

Solos: Davis, Edwards, Davis, Edwards, Reich/Hutchison, Koza, Davis.

3. Just Like a Broken Record

(vocal - Hannah Gill)

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer.

Solos: Hoyt Gill, McDonough, Gill, Davis.

4. Up and at 'Em

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer.

Solos: Reich, Alexander, Koza, Prover, Davis.

5. Ain't It Grand?

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer.

Solos: Koza, Wellington, Koza.

6. When I Get Low I Get High

(vocal - Hannah Gill)

Written by Marion Sunshine and Ella Fitzgerald,

Probably Arranged by Edgar Sampson.

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer.

As tecorded by Chick Webb and His Orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald vocal, 4/7/1936. (YouTube)

Solos: Lopeman, Gill Koza, Lopeman, Millar, Gill.

7. A String of Pearls

Written by Jerry Gray and Eddie DeLange.

Arranged by Jerry Gray.

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer.

As recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, 11/3/1941 (YouTube)

Solos: Crytzer, Rattman, Schwartz, Lopeman, Koza, Davis, Reich.

8. Blue Jay

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer.

Solos: Hutchison, Rattman, Reich, Davis, Rattman, Hutchison.

9. Steppin' in Rhythm

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer.

Solos: Hutchison, Davis, Lopeman/Koza, McDonough, Lopeman/Koza, Davis.

10. Who's Yehoodi?

(vocal - Dandy Wellington)

Written by Matt Dennis and Billy Seckler.

Arranger Unknown.

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer.

As recorded by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra, 5/14/1940. (YouTube)

Solos: Wellington, Koza, Wellington

11. A Woman Needs A Man

(vocal - Hannah Gill)

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer.

Solos: Koza, Gill, Koza

12. Jive at Five

Written by William "Count "Basie, and Harry "Sweets" Edison.

Arranger Unknown. Possibly Edison.

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer.

As recorded by Count Basie and His Orchestra 2/4/1939. (YouTube).

Solos: Reich, Lopeman, Davis, Lopeman, Reich, Alexander.

13. I'm Nuts About Screwy Music​

(vocal - Dandy Wellington)

Written by Fred Rose and Jimmie Lunceford.

Arranged by Ed Wilcox.

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer

As recorded by the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra 12/23/1935. (YouTube)

Solos: Reich, Wellington, Prover, Rattman, Hoyt.

14. Thank You for the Moments​

(vocal - Glenn Crytzer)

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer.

Solos: Edwards, Gill, Davis, Edwards.

15. Well, Git It!

Written and Arranged by Sy Oliver.

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer.

As Recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra  8/17/1942. (YouTube)

Solos: Hoyt, Edwards, Millar, Koza, Lopeman, Reich, Hoyt/Prover.

 

Track Listing (Disc 2)

1. Rhythm Is Our Business

(vocal - Dandy Wellington)

Written by Jimmie Lunceford, Sammy Cahn, and Saul Chaplin.

Arranged by Ed Wilcox

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer.

As recorded by the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra, Willie Smith vocal  12/18/1934. (YouTube)

Solos: Rattman, Davis, Wellington, Millar, Koza, Hutchison, Hoyt

2. The Glory of Love

(vocal - Hannah Gill)

Written by Billy Hill

Arranged by Spud Murphy.

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer.

As recorded by the Benny Goodman Orchestra, Helen Ward vocal, 4/23/1936. (YouTube)

Solos: Koza, Gill, Koza

3. Jubilee Stomp

Written and Arranged by Duke Ellington

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer.

As recorded by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, 1/19/1928. (YouTube)

Solos: Rattman, Davis, Koza, Edwards, Alexander, Reich.

4. Who Needs Spring

(vocal - Hannah Gill)

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer

​Solos: Reich, Gill, Davis​

5. Shorty's Got To Go

(vocal - Dandy Wellington)

Written and Arranged by Lucky Millinder

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer.

As recorded by Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra, 2/26/1946. (YouTube)

​Solos: Wellington, Lopeman

6. Solo Flight

Written by Charlie Christian, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Mundy

Arranged by Jimmy Mundy.

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer.

As recorded by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra, 3/4/1941. (YouTube)

​Solos: Crytzer, Koza, Crytzer

7. March Slav

Written by Pyotr Tchaikovsky (YouTube)

Adapted and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer

Solos: Edwards, Davis

8. I Get Ideas

(vocal - Glenn Crytzer)

Written by Julio Cesar Sanders and Dorcas Cochran

Arranged by Sy Oliver

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer

As recorded by Sy Oliver and His Orchestra with Louis Armstrong 7/24/1951 (YouTube)

Solos: Prover, Crytzer, Prover, Crytzer

9. The Ugly Duckling 

(vocal - Dandy Wellington)

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer

Solos: Edwards, Wellington, Koza​

10. The Little Orange Man

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer

Solos: Koza, Prover, Koza

11. The Mooche

Written by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills

Arranged/Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer using several early Ellington arrangements as a source.

Solos: Davis, Reich, Davis, Alexander.

12. Massachusetts

(vocal - Hannah Gill)

Written by Lucky Roberts and Andy Razaf

Arranged by Elton Hill

Transcribed by Glenn Crytzer

As recorded by Gene Krupa and His Orchestra, Anita O'day vocal, 7/13/42 (YouTube)

Solos: Gill, Prover​

13. Swing My Soul

(vocal - Dandy Wellington)

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer

Solos: Koza, Wellington, Davis/McDonough/Koza, Koza

14. Bear Foot Blues

Written and Arranged by Glenn Crytzer

Solos: Reich, Lopeman, Fryer, Prover, Millar

15. Traffic Jam

Written by Artie Shaw and Teddy McCrae

Arranged by Teddy McCrae

Originally recorded by Artie Shaw and his Orchestra 6/12/1939 (YouTube)

Solos: Koza, McDonough, Koza, 

Production Team

Recorded by Sean Yoo at the NV Factory, Englewood Cliffs, NJ. January 3 & 4, 2018.

Mixed and Edited by Glenn Crytzer; Additional Mixing by Gary Mula (www.garymula.com).

Mastered by Steve Turnidge at Ars Divina (www.arsdivina.com).

Cover Art and Jacket Design by Amore Hirosuke. (monster-mix.com)

Photo of Glenn by Don Spiro (www.donspiro.com)

Album Notes by Will Friedwald.

Hannah Gill appears courtesy of Footnote Records.