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Rare Wild Bill

Sounds of Yester Year
DSOD 989



Wild Bill Davison – Cornet, mellophone, with:


Chubb-Steinberg Orchestra of Cincinnati

1. Because They All Love You

2. Mandy, Make Up Your Mind

3. Steppin’ in Society

Burt Allen – Cornet,

Frank Bamberger – Trombone

Ray Evans, Horner Beecraft –Alto sax

Jack Weber – Clarinet, tenor sax

Art Hicks – Violin, vocals, director

Jack Saatkamp – Piano

Carl Clauve – Banjo

Ray Fetzer – Bass

Bud Ebel – Drums

Benny Meroff and his Orchestra

4. Smiling Skies

5. Me and the Man in the Moon

6. Happy Days Are Here Again

Don Forney – Trombone

Lemmie Cohen – Alto sax

Arnold Pritikin – Tenor sax

Roy Cohen – Violin

Al Nillson – Piano

Sid Pritikin - Guitar

Benny Metz – Clarinet

Benny Meroff – Vocals, leader

Collector’s Item Cats

7. On a Blues Kick

8. I Surrender Dear

Boyce Brown- Alto sax

Mel Henke – Piano

Wally Ross – Bass

Joe Kahn – Drums

Lakota Quartet

9. Goin’ Home

10. I’m Confessin’ Part 1

11. I’m Confessin’ Part 2

12. Lady Be Good Part 1

13. Lady Be Good Part 2

Ted May – Accordion

Ted Meisenheimer – Guitar

Wally Ross – Bass

Chateau Country Club Orchestra

14. I Can’t Believe that You’re in Love with Me

15. Wolverine Blues

16. Star Dust

Ralph Hilderman – Trombone

Russ Zarling – Clarinet

Sig Heller, Sammy Armato – Tenor sax

Hilly Hansen – Piano

Ted Meisenheimer – Guitar

Gene Juckem – Drums

Denver Darling with Wild Bill Davison and his Range Riders

17. Deep Delta Blues

18. Silver Dew on the Blue Grass

Denver Darling – Vocals, guitar

Roy Ross - Accordion

Moe Wechsler – Piano

Vaughn Horton or Eddie McMullen – Steel guitar

Sid Weiss – Drums

Eddie Condon and his Orchestra

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Brad Gowans – Valve trombone

Tony Parenti – Clarinet

Gene Schroeder – Piano

Eddie Condon – Guitar

Bob Casey – Bass

George Wettling – Drums

American Music Festival

20. Clarinet Marmalade

21. Just a Gigolo

22. She’s Funny That Way

23. Hotter Than That

George Brunis – Trombone

Garvin Bushell – Clarinet

Ralph Sutton – Piano

Sid Weiss – Bass

Morey Feld – Drums

Eddie Condon and his Orchestra

24. I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None o’ This Jelly Roll

25. Intro by Lord Buckley, Eddie Condon

26. I’m Confessin’

Brad Gowans – Valve trombone

Pee Wee Russell – Clarinet

Dick Cary – Piano

Eddie Condon – Guitar

Jack Lesberg - Bass

George Wettling – Drums

Eddie Condon and his Orchestra

27. That’s a Plenty

28. When Your Lover Has Gone

Cutty Cutshall – Trombone

Peanuts Hucko – Clarinet

Gene Schroeder – Piano

Eddie Condon – Guitar

Jack Lesberg - Bass

George Wettling – Drums


1. The Lady’s in Love With You

2. Kiss Me

Buzzy Drootin – Drums replaces George Wettling

Claire “Shanty” Hogan – Vocals added

Eddie Condon and his Orchestra

3. I Never Knew I Could Love Anybody

4. After You’ve Gone

Personnel same as prec except that Sid Weiss – Bass replaces Jack Lesberg

Eddie Condon and his Orchestra

5. Beale Street Blues

6. Medley: Emaline / Worry ‘bout Me / I Can’t Give You Anything but Love

7. Riverboat Shuffle

Personnel same as prec, except that Edmond Hall replaces Peanuts Hucko, Walter Page replaces Sid Weiss, and George Wettling replaces Buzzy Drootin.

Piano Rolls

8. Rose of the Rio Grande

9. Squeeze Me

10. Walking My Baby Back Home

11. Farewell Blues

John Field – Bass

Walt Gifford – Drums

Wild Bill Davison Pick-Up Band

12. Ostrich Walk

13. Yesterdays

14. When Your Lover Has Gone

15. As Long As I Live

16. She’s Funny That Way

17. Wolverine Blues

Ed Piering – Trombone

Joe Barufaldi – Clarinet

Sid Hurwitz – Piano

Herb Ward – Bass

Danny Alvin – Drums

Connie Parsons with Wild Bill Davison and his Quartet

18. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?

19. The Lonesome Road

20. Lover Man

21. How Come You Do Me Like You Do?

Stan Wrightsman – Piano

George Van Eps – Guitar

Morty Corb – Bass

Nick Fatool - Drums

Connie Parsons – Vocals

Wild Bill Davison Band

22. Main Street

23. Savoy Blues

24. Mayrath

Abe Lincoln – Trombone, vocals

Matty Matlock – Clarinet

Ray Sherman – Piano

Phil Stevens – Bass

Nick Fatool – Drums

“Wild” referred to Davison’s private life rather than his playing, which was either fiery yet controlled or peacefully lyrical. The sound quality varies wildly on this double album but it usefully traces Wild Bill’s career from his early days with the Cheubb-Steiberg Orchestra of Cincinnati in 1925 to his performances in 1960 with his own band. The earliest tracks are closer to dance music than jazz, although Mandy, Make Up Your Mind is a Dixieland standard. As there are three brass players in Chubb-Steinberg’s band, it is difficult to isolate any solos by Bill but he obviously fulfils his role adequately.

Smiling Skies by Benny Meroff’s band from 1928 opens with a rather morose-sounding violin, which is not a good omen for a jazz track, but there is a good solo from Davison as things warm up. Jumping forward to 1940, two Collector’s Items are more undeniably jazz, with Wild Bill’s trumpet lead sounding confident. I Surrender Dear illustrates his maturing style: already improvising the theme as he states it, and taking a wild upward swing in the final middle eight.

The incomplete recordings of I’m Confessin’ (from very scratchy acetates) show Bill as capable of gentle rhapsodizing. Tenor-saxist Sig Heller recorded tracks 14 to 16 on acetates at his home in 1941, with the first two cuts starting with lots of chat among the musicians. Star Dust is a feature for Bill and he makes the most of it, with swirling lyrical phrases before he briefly breaks into double time and then finishes the tune in the stratosphere. Tracks 17 and 18 of the first CD display Wild Bill riding the range with a hillbilly-style group called the Range Riders. A steel guitar is a prominent part of these tracks but they don’t steal the spotlight from Bill.

When Davison gets involved with Eddie Condon’s pick-up groups, you can immediately tell that he is comfortably at home. Davison found a place where his style fitted like a glove: either a velvet glove or a diamond-encrusted one. Playing alongside equally talented musicians like Dick Cary, Peanuts Hucko and Cutty Cutshall, Bill found an easy-going Chicago style which suited him perfectly. Many of these later tracks were cut on tape or acetate, so the sound is still variable but at the same time conveying a sense of immediacy. The version of I’m Confessin’ here is better recorded than the previous ones and is prefaced by some backtalk between Eddie Condon and the presenter about “Wild William”, whose solo is both passionate and tender. In this context, and with his own groups, Davison proved what Philip Larkin said about his style: “each note is perfectly shaped and pitched as if the cornet were his speaking voice”.

Four tunes recorded in Hub Pruett’s basement in 1955 have Bill in the unusual role of playing along with piano rolls by the likes of Fats Waller and James P. Johnson. Joined only by bass and drums, these recordings give us a chance to hear Davison clearly without other musicians intruding. Yes – he was a unique voice and an indispensable part of the Chicago Jazz movement which gave us traditional jazz that swung without stodginess.

Tony Augarde

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