If this is your first visit, welcome to my blog of memories and observations. If you wish to be notified of new posts, enter an e-mail address above, and click on "Submit." As we move through a seventh year of this venture, I thank all who have made regular visits, as well as fellow bloggers who have found Stomp Off worth linking to. Doing this sort of thing is time-consuming, but I try to post fresh material at least once a week—let me know what you think. There is a Commentary option at the end of each post and a Guest Book can be reached by scrolling down and clicking on the quill image. I welcome your observations, reaction and/or suggestions in either spot—or both. As for blog content, the most current posts are on the home page, starting at the top. Earlier items are listed by month, year and title in the archive index. To zero in on a particular key word or subject, use the search option that is located directly beneath the blog's masthead. Most images can be enlarged with a mouse click, and there are links to some of my favorite blogs, etc. Since visitors have come from 150 countries, a translator with numerous languages is located below. You can at any time revert to English with a click at the top left of this page:

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We starved, the music swung...

This is the second trip to the back (i.e. earlier days) of this blog, a chance to see/hear a post that time has buried here. It was a cold December morning in 1962 when a bunch of us crowded into Ray Bryant's station wagon and headed for Scranton, Pennsylvania. It is odd that I am the sole survivor, but that's life, so to speak. Unfortunately, I have only been able to come up with one selection from the concert that brought us there, but the tapes are in there, somewhere.

This will take you to Scranton.


Sam Wooding IV

Continuing the extended 1975 interviews with band leader Sam Wooding, we have reached Berlin and opening night of the Chocolate Kiddies show. Sam talks about his impressions of Berlin and his band's subsequent appearances in Hamburg, Leningrad, Stockholm and Copenhagen. This was not the first time Europeans experienced jazz or heard a black band, but the Sam Wooding Orchestra played on concert stages, as opposed to clubs, so it reached a new audience and—there not being dedicated jazz journalists—was reviewed by critics who were more at home with Mozart, Debussy or Scarlatti. Sam was well prepared for this, so he had incorporated what he called "symphonic synthesis," strains of melodies that any European would recognize. It worked and was perhaps never as well tested as when the Wooding orchestra performed at an annual Christmas charity concert sponsored by Berlingske Tidende, a Copenhagen newspaper. That night, they shared the stage with the Royal Symphony Orchestra and several prominent members of the Royal Danish Opera and Ballet. Paul Whiteman's orchestra had appeared with George Gershwin at New York's Aeolian Hall the year before, but Wooding was probably the first black leader to take his orchestra to a stage that normally held white musicians, and the Copenhagen concert was certainly the first instance of jazz and classical music sharing a public concert. Here is what a contemporary Danish newspaper critic wrote after experiencing Sam's orchestra that night:

In 1971, when I translated this review for Sam, it was the first time he heard it.

The cover of a Danish satyrical magazine (the name translates into 
Vicious Circle) was inspired by Sam's orchestra, but the faces are
those of local politicians.

To the Danes, who knew jazz only as the unique musical invention of Black Americans, the juxtaposition seemed perfectly natural, but to most Americans, who still viewed jazz as some lower form of novelty, such an arrangement would have been unthinkable. “We found it hard to believe, but the Europeans treated us with as much respect as they did their own symphonic orchestras," Sam said. “They loved our music, but they didn’t quite understand it, so I made it a little easier for them by incorporating such melodies as Du holder Abendstern from Tannhauser - syncopated, of course. They called it blasphemy, but they couldn’t get enough of it. That would never have happened back here in the States."

Oh Katharina offers a good example of Sam's genre weave. It is one of four sides recorded acoustically by the Vox label 10 days after the Chocolate Kiddies show opened in Berlin. Notice that Sam's arrangement also brings in Oh Tannenbaum, which turned out to be perfect for the Danish Christmas charity concert. 

Members of the Chocolate Kiddies Revue in Vienna.

Sam poses at the piano with members of his orchestra (Berlin, 1925)

Here is the continuation of the interview.


Perusing back pages...

As this blog gets older and crammed with more stuff, it becomes easier to overlook entries that might interest, amuse, or enrage you. This, therefore, is a little time machine, a link to past entries that might have escaped you. I will change the link about twice a month. This retro entry will take you to my recollection of a seance to which I was sent by the late Bill Grauer over fifty years ago, when I was working at Riverside Records. I hope you like it and that you will use the option to comment. Here's the link to Hey, Bix! Bessie!