11/26/16

Mel Powell and His Uptown Hall Gang

Pianist, arranger and composer Mel Powell was working as a professional jazz musician in New York City already in his teens and joined Benny Goodman's orchestra in 1941, at the age of 18. He wrote 'The Earl' as a tribute to pianist Earl Hines. The song was recorded by Benny Goodman's band and shortly thereafter also by Earl Hines' orchestra in 1941.

After being drafted, he joined Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band in 1943. While the Army Air Force Band was stationed in England in the second half of 1944, both Ray McKinley and Mel Powell led their own "bands within the band", Powell's small group being more focused on jazz-oriented material. On the three live recordings featured here, we first hear 'The Earl', which is here quite a bit faster than the previous big band versions. The LP liner notes claim that the next song, 'Shandy', was penned by Bernie/Pinkard/Casey who also wrote 'Sweet Georgia Brown', but it seems unlikely. Finally, 'Triple X' is another Mel Powell original composition, and a very hard swinging one! For some strange reason, it was never commercially recorded by any band. We hear a wild trumpet solo by temporarily added band member Bernie Privin.

Mel Powell And His Uptown Hall Gang: Bernie Privin (tp-1) Nat Peck (tb) Addison Collins (fhr) Peanuts Hucko (cl,as) Mannie Thaler (bar,b-cl,as) Mel Powell (p) Trigger Alpert (b) Ray McKinley (d)

Co-Partners Hall, Bedford, England, July 28, 1944
    The Earl

Co-Partners Hall, Bedford, England, December 7, 1944
    Shandy

Co-Partners Hall, Bedford, England, December 9, 1944
    Triple X (1)

LP source: Piano Forte – Mel Powell and His Uptown Hall Gang (Phontastic NOST-7649)






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