George Lewis - Hello Central...Give Me Dr. Jazz
  • 01 Lord, Lord, You Certainly Have Been Good To Me
  • 02 Dallas Blues
  • 03 Swanee River
  • 04 Just A Closer Walk With Thee
  • 05 Doctor Jazz
  • 06 Jerusalem Blues
  • 07 Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jelly Roll
  • 08 Tin Roof Blues
  • 09 Mama Don't Allow
  • 10 Dippermouth Blues
  • 01 Lord, Lord, You Certainly Have Been Good To Me
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (02:28) [6.87 MB]
  • 02 Dallas Blues
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (05:37) [14.08 MB]
  • 03 Swanee River
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (03:26) [9.07 MB]
  • 04 Just A Closer Walk With Thee
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (08:55) [21.64 MB]
  • 05 Doctor Jazz
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (05:07) [12.94 MB]
  • 06 Jerusalem Blues
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (05:04) [12.81 MB]
  • 07 Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jelly Roll
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (04:01) [10.4 MB]
  • 08 Tin Roof Blues
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (07:02) [17.3 MB]
  • 09 Mama Don't Allow
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (04:44) [12.04 MB]
  • 10 Dippermouth Blues
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (03:43) [9.73 MB]
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George Lewis – Hello Central…Give Me Doctor Jazz
Delmark DD 201
Compact Disc (2001)

This album contains definitive 1953 recordings of clarinetist George Lewis who led the most authentic New Orleans jazz band. It’s a sound that led via English Skiffle groups to Rock music of the ’60s. It’s a New Orleans Brass Band that’s come inside to play with a full rhythm section. It’s relevant in spite of the vintage. It’s Blues, Gospel, Ragtime, Pop before Rock. It struts and it stomps. Here’s the first studio recordings of the George Lewis New Orleans Band which toured colleges, clubs and festivals and brought the sound, later settled-in at Preservation Hall, of jazz’s first beginnings.

Recorded June 18, 1953, NBC, San Francisco.

1 Lord, Lord, You Certainly Been Good To Me 2:24
2 Dallas Blues 5:34
3 Swanee River 3:21
4 Just A Closer Walk With Thee 8:51
5 Doctor Jazz 5:02
6 Jerusalem Blues 5:00
7 Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jelly Roll 3:56
8 Tin Roof Blues 6:57
9 Mama Don't Allow 4:40
10 Dippermouth Blues 3:42

Banjo – Lawrence Marrero
Bass – Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau*
Clarinet – George Lewis
Drums – Joe Watkins
Piano – Alton Purnell
Trombone – Jim Robinson
Trumpet – Kid Howard

1. Lord, Lord, You Certainly Been Good To Me 2:24 (Traditional, P.D.)
2. Dallas Blues 5:34 vocal - Joe Watkins (Spencer Williams, P.D.)
3. Swanee River 3:21 (Stephen Foster P.D.)
4. Just A Closer Walk With Thee 8:51 vocal - Joe Watkins (Traditional, P.D.)
5. Doctor Jazz 5:02 (Melrose/Oliver, Edwin H. Morris & Co. Inc., ASCAP)
6. Jerusalem Blues 5:00 (Traditional, P.D.)
7. Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jelly Roll 3:56 (Williams/Williams, Shapiro Bernstein & Co. Inc., ASCAP)
8. Tin Roof Blues 6:57 (Brunies/Mares/Melrose/Pollack/Rappolo/Stitzel, P.D.)
9. Mama Don’t Allow 4:40 vocal - Joe Watkins (Cahn/Davenport, Anne-Rachel Music Corp., ASCAP)
10. Dippermouth Blues 3:42 (Oliver/Armstrong/Melrose, P.D.)

The contrapuntal ensemble improvisation concept of supposedly primitive New Orleans jazz began to disappear in the mid-’20s when jazzmen accented solos over ensemble. Head and written arrangements soon followed but the ensemble idea lived on in New Orleans and elsewhere in the world where the "revivalists" flourished. More recently the avant garde artists have re-introduced the concept.
The Lewis band, made up of seven unique individuals, created such singularity as to seem the work of one mind. But it was a collective mind-- a mind born decades prior to this recording. That mind varied only slightly if a different trumpeter took the stand, but whether it was Bunk Johnson, Kid Shot Madison, Percy Humphrey, Kid Howard, or Elmer Talbert on lead horn, the George Lewis band had a recognizable sound of its own.
These were the first studio recordings of the George Lewis New Orlleans Band since the mid-’40s Decca and Victor sessions with Bunk Johnson. Though damned or ignored by America's mainstream jazz press, the Lewis band toured Europe and Japan, started the movement that culminated in Preservation Hall, and was an early influence on the British Rock movement (about which more later).
Devotees of early jazz who discovered and recorded Bunk Johnson in the early 1940s discovered that early jazz records made in New York and Chicago did not really document the music that had percolated in New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th century. As it traveled the music filtered through the environments of every city along the way to New York: Memphis (with a richer blues scene than New Orleans), St. Louis (Ragtime was still very much alive when Strekfus steamers imported the New Orleanians), Chicago (music publishing and booking hub) and others. However, in New Orleans the early ensemble improv music remained alive and well in small taverns, dance halls and parades in that uniquely cosmopolitan city. Apart from the rare Kid Ory 1921 California recordings, King Oliver's Creole Band, New Orleans Rhythm Kings sessions and the crude, earlier ODJB dates, virtually all the traditional jazz classics were heavily influenced by the emphasis on soloing -- understandable given the excellence of the Louis Armstrong Hot 5 sides. Even the few recordings made in New Orleans in the later ’20s, also reflected this influence (although those of Sam Morgan were an exception).
Indeed, not everyone had left New Orleans -- where the chilly winds don't blow, where the pace is slow, and where even today it's not hard to locate a good parade or funeral to second-line.
At a time when Americans regarded old movies, old cars, old anything as "old fashioned" the jazz press' attitude was that new jazz was, of course, better than the old model: swing had replaced dixieland and bop was replacing swing. The party line was that musicians over 40 just didn't have the stamina to play. (This rule changed when some of bop's creators aged.) Too many writers listened with their mind instead of other vital organs. Eventually the recorded jazz of the ’20s gained respect but primarily only that which was either composer (Jelly Roll Morton) or solo (Louis, Dodds) oriented. Of course, bop was an exciting and revolutionary idiom.
Bunk gathered the George Lewis band for the Jazz Information (Commodore), Jazz Man (Good Time Jazz) and American Music recordings in the early ’40s which resulted in six-month engagements at Stuyvesant Casino in 1945 and 1946 and the Decca and Victor sessions. The band continued playing in New Orleans with trumpeters Elmer Talbert and Percy Humphrey for a lengthy stay at the El Morocco on Bourbon Street, and recordings for GTJ, Decca and Pax. Nick Gagliano booked a tour in 1952 with Kid Howard replacing Humphrey who opted to stay behind to attend to his insurance business. Dorothy Tait took over management and, after playing for 7,000 people at Gene Norman's Dixieland Jamboree in the Shrine Auditorium and a lengthy stay at Beverly Caverns, the band toured Ohio colleges, Chicago, St. Louis, L.A. and S.F. It was a vintage year for the band which began regular touring. For the first time since the ’45 Bunk sessions for Decca/Victor the George Lewis band could record in cities that didn't bar black musicians from the studio. The first were made at NBC in San Francisco for the same school transcription program that had documented Kid Ory's band a decade earlier. But this time, the music was also released to the public on the Antone label. When Antone retired, a very young Bob Koester bought the masters for three 12" LPs -- important early releases on Delmark.
Such attention as was given the albums was generally positive. In Consumer's Report John S. Wilson simply stated "George Lewis, beautifully recorded" but in High Fidelity he was more quotable: "The Lewis band has rarely been caught on records as consistently as on these pieces." Wayne Jones gave one album **** in Down Beat.
Oh, I promised rock-and-roll relevance, didn't I?
A few years prior to the Antone session English trumpet player Ken Collyer, working as a merchant seaman, jumped ship and took a bus ride to New Orleans to sit in with the Lewis band. After serving six weeks in jail for racially integrating the band, he returned to the UK, started his jazz band with Chris Barber and Lonnie Donegan (who organized a trio to play blues during intermissions). Collyer had been more popular in Europe than Elvis, but later "Skiffle" (blues played on guitar, washtub bass, perhaps harmonica or jug) swept the UK. Thus began groups which later became the Beatles, Rolling Stones, et al, kicking off a blues revival, which pre-dated the U.S. scene by a decade. When Barber left Collyer c.’59, he began bringing over blues artists to tour with the band every month: Muddy Waters, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry and most living blues pianists, some of whom: Memphis Slim, Curtis Jones, Eddie Boyd, and Champion Jack Dupree moved to Europe where the guitar had not yet replaced the piano as the favored blues instrument.
George Lewis was born in New Orleans July 13, 1900. He grew up in the Uptown creole area in rooms directly opposite Hopes Hall where he recalled hearing Freddie Keppard, Manuel Perez, Willie Cornish and Bunk Johnson as early as his fifth year. Though his mother wanted him to play violin , he was able to master a dime tin whistle well enough that she eventually relented and bought his a $4.50 clarinet. Then it was just a matter of perfecting his music, moving into the circle of musicians that included Red Allen, Buddy Petit, Lee Collins and Billie & De De Pierce. A lot of the jobs were in small towns and suburbs of New Orleans. Lewis returned to the city just in time to record with Bunk and eventually on his own for Climax (Blue Note) and American Music.
Eventually George recorded for Blue Note, Atlantic, Riverside, Icon (Jazzology), GHB, Center (Biograph), Storyville and others but when a jazz band's personnel changes even one member, the music changes and -- as many have said -- 1953 was the vintage year.
The word most frequently used to describe George Lewis was humble. He was a wiry little guy, weighing less than a hundred pounds. But he had worked as a longshoreman for decades when music could not support a family. He was quiet and soft-spoken and rarely spoke ill of people who had done him wrong. Lewis apprenticed with the Eagle Brass Band and went on to work with most of the city's brass bands and jazzmen like Buddy Petit and Lee Collins. He died December 31, 1968.
Trumpeter Kid Howard was with George Lewis for his Blue Note and AM recordings and added a considerable talent as vocalist to the mix, possibly picked up when he played piano in French Quarter night spots earlier in his career. He was born in 1914, also worked in theater pit bands, brass bands and passed away March 23, 1966.
Trombonist Jim Robinson's unique style kept some of the critics off-balance when he appeared in NY with Bunk and the band. He was born in 1892 and recorded on Columbia with the great Sam Morgan band -- the first recordings of spirituals in jazz -- in 1927. He was on virtually all of George Lewis' sessions and he put the forgotten song "Ice Cream" into the jazz repertoire when a trumpet player failed to show up for a recording date. "A miracle oF uninhibited joy!" -- Bill Russell, AM Records. He died May 4. 1976 but his sound lives on-- the model for dozens of tradmen worldwide.
Pianist Alton Purnell is said to have gotten the gig when the guys joined the union to play New York with Bunk. The staunch Mr. Purnell was the in-band business agent. Dance hall bands of that day often did without piano (for the same reason Chicago blues bands do without -- undependable and often out-of-tune instruments in the joints) but Purnell fit right in. He left the band after a California job and did a marvelous album for Warner Brothers before his death on January 14, 1987.
Dixie Stompers' drummer Bob Kornacher used to take an occasional vocal break by shouting "I hate banjos!!" and who can blame him. The banjo shares that bottom-of-the-sea gag with accordions for good reason. But a good jazz banjoist is really a guitarist who wants to be heard without lugging an amp around. And, properly stroked, a banjo can be beautiful (just as an accordion can -- say in a Nortena band). Grayson Mills referred to Lawrence Marrero's "zither-like quality." He was born in 1900, was a furniture-mover and prizefighter --- trades that belied the benevolent face and personality. He also doubled on bass drum in brass bands and passed June 6, 1959.
One of these days we are going to release an anthology of jazz-blues a la New Orleans and some of the tracks from this session are a must. The band boasted two fine vocalists, Kid Howard (not heard here) and drummer Joe Watkins. There's something special about New Orleans drumming, whether it's Baby Dodds, Zutty Singleton, Paul Barbarin, Josiah Frazier, or whomever -- that ability to make you strut. It defines the idiom. Watkins was born in 1900, died September 13, 1969.
It is encouraging that today the New Orleans Brass Band and R&B sounds are so widely appreciated. Yet to be discovered by new generations is what happens when they come indoors and utilize pianists and drummers (many who recorded with Fats Domino and other popular artists). It usually sounds very much like the George Lewis band and these marvelous recordings. It continues at Preservation Hall.
Especially recommended George Lewis recordings include those on the American Music label (with or without Bunk Johnson on trumpet), Good Time Jazz and Blue Note. And, of course, you'll want George Lewis, The Singing Clarinet (Delmark 202) from the same recording session as this album, due for release on CD in 2001. Also currently available is George Lewis & Don Ewell, Reunion (Delmark 220) in a quartet setting.
--Bob Koester
  • Members:
    Bass – Alcide (Slow Drag) Pavageau Clarinet – George Lewis ) Drums – Joe Watkins Piano – Alton Purnell Trombone – Jim Robinson Trumpet – Kid Howard
  • Sounds Like:
    New Orleans Jazz
  • Influences:
    New Orleans Jazz
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
  • Profile Last Updated:
    08/16/23 18:16:11

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