The New Orleans Feetwarmers
One can take it on blind faith that supergroups rarely stay together very long, no matter what the genre. The New Orleans Feetwarmers formed as a cooperative venture by two of the great stars of New Orleans jazz, but turned out to be no exception to this rule due to the public's changing musical tastes as well as the usual inner squabbling. Soprano saxophonist and clarinetist Sidney Bechet had already been performing for nearly two decades when he formed the Feetwarmers in 1932. He had honed his style and was making fully mature statements of incredible strength when soloing. For this reason alone, the group's sessions for Victor are treasured by jazz fans, as many feel they represent the high point of his career. He formed the band with trumpeter Tommy Ladnier, who may not retain the legendary status of Bechet, but had been one of his regular collaborators almost throughout his career, as well as leading many fine bands on his own. The two men assembled a dynamite combination of seasoned players to round out the group, including Philadelphia trombonist Teddy Nixon, who had been playing off and on with Fletcher Henderson since the early '20s. The band warmed its musical tootsies with low-profile dates in Jersey City and White Plains in the summer of 1932, then began what would be a long and prosperous residency at the Savoy Ballroom. The bill often included Fletcher Henderson, allowing Nixon a chance to blow all night long if he so desired. The blooming talent of the Mills Brothers was also part of these shows. The band went into the studio for Victor the morning after the first of these Savoy shows. Highlights of these sessions were many. Fans of avant-garde or free jazz will find a historical touchstone in the cut Shag, as it is one of the earliest examples of jazz in which there is no initial theme statement or "head." Instead, the combo just takes off improvising, in this case to the chord changes of I Got Rhythm. Sweetie Dear proudly displays not only a sizzling tempo but a good example of the comfortable horn interplay between the co-leaders. Other tracks include Lay Your Racket and the seductive I Want You Tonight, written by Bechet and vocalist Billy Maxey. Most triumphant of all, as a lasting statement about New Orleans music, is the stunning version of Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin. To many fans' surprise at the time, the Feetwarmers decided to cool their collective heels only a few months after the Savoy run ended. Two main reasons are usually given for the demise of the band. On the gossipy level, there is the story that Ladnier's wife wanted her hubby to be in full charge of the combo, with the notoriously rambunctious Bechet to be relegated to a non-decision making role. Public taste probably had a big part to do with it and certainly diminished the initial sales of the Victor sides, as well as a one-off set of two cuts done for Ajax in 1935. Loose jamming in the Crescent City style was going out, and incoming were lushly arranged saxophone sections and crooners who would stand as stiff as a board. The years have long since made up for any initial lack of interest in this band, as these recordings have sold thousands of copies in a list of re-releases and repackagings that resembles a column torn out of a racing form. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi
Maple Leaf Rag
Maple Leaf Rag
Maple Leaf Rag
Georgia Cabin - Sidney Bechet And His New Orleans Feetwarmers
I'm Coming Virginia - Sidney Bechet And His New Orleans Feetwarmers
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