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Pete Kelly’s Blues His 25 Finest 1950-1959




Pete Kelly & his Big Seven

  1. Pete Kelly’s Blues [3:20]

  2. Smiles [2:09]

  3. I Never Knew [2:38]

    Ben Pollack & his Pick-A-Rib Boys

  4. Royal Garden Blues [2:14]

  5. Tin Roof Blues [2:26]

    Pete Kelly & his Big Seven

  6. What Can I Say After I Say I’m Sorry? [2:44]

  7. Sugar, That Sugar Baby Of Mine [3:36]

  8. Bye-Bye, Blackbird [2:40]

  9. Hard Hearted Hannah [2:52]

  10. Over There [2:45]

  11. They Can’t Take That Away From Me [2:36]

    Matty Matlock & his Dixie Men

  12. Jazz Me Blues [3:54]

  13. Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble [5:49]

  14. Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider [3:22]

  15. Sugar Foot Strut [4:23]


  16. Louisiana [3:09]

  17. At The Jazz Band Ball [2:21]

    Warren Baker & Orchestra

  18. In A Mist [3:14]

  19. Ja-Da [2:56]

    Pete Kelly & his Big Seven

  20. Fat Annie’s Place [2:09]

  21. Ain’t We Got Fun? [1:55]

  22. Chinatown, My Chinatown [2:09]

    The Kings of Dixieland

  23. Dixieland Blues [3:53]

  24. Carry Me Back To Old Virginny [3:55]

  25. Battle Hymn Of The Republic [3:27]



    This disc presents 25 songs from Dick Cathcart’s recording career between 1950 and 1959.

    Dick was a well-rounded jazz trumpet player who could play any type of jazz or popular music, but became best known as a Dixieland musician, with beautiful technique, sound and melodic phrasing. He was born in 1924 in Michigan City, Indiana and learned the clarinet at the age of four. Dick began playing trumpet and cornet as a teenager, and performed with Ray McKinley’s band in the New York area and later with Alvino Rey. During the war, Dick played with the U.S. Army Air Force Band, and later with big bands led by Ray Noble, Bob Crosby, Gordon Jenkins, Juan Tizol and Ben Pollack. In 1951 his friend, actor Jack Webb hired him to lead a jazz band and play trumpet for Jack’s radio series Pete Kelly’s Blues, a weekly half-hour radio drama with story lines full of guns, gangsters, girls, cops, and jazz, centered around a 1920’s Kansas City speak-easy. The band itself became known as Pete Kelly’s Big Seven, and later played in the 1955 film Pete Kelly’s Blues. The Big Seven went on performing for several more years on their own, and featured Dick on trumpet leading a fine assortment of various jazz artists, including clarinetist Matty Matlock, drummer Nick Fatool, and pianist Ray Sherman. About half of the numbers on this disc are performances of some version of Pete Kelly’s Big Seven. Dick went on to become the lead trumpet player for the Lawrence Welk Orchestra from 1962 to 1968, and performed on the weekly television show for six years. He met Peggy Lennon, one of the singing Lennon Sisters, on the show and the two later married.

    The title song Pete Kelly’s Blues was composed by Ray Heindorf in 1955, and it was recorded for RCA Victor the same year. Ray was a noted composer, conductor and arranger from New York who began his music career as a piano player for silent films. He moved to California in 1929 and spent the next forty years arranging and conducting music for Warner Bros. studios. Ray passed away in 1980, buried with his favorite conducting baton. His song Pete Kelly’s Blues is a beautiful slow blues ballad, arranged with melodic solos performed by Dick and trombonist Moe Schneider. Dick recorded a tribute album to Bix Biederbeck in December 1958 titled BIX MCMLIX for Warner Bros., backed by Warren Barker’s orchestra. Warren was a talented composer and arranger who wrote primarily for the television and movie industries, including 20th Century Fox, MGM, Columbia Studios, and the National Broadcasting Company, and composed music for more than 30 television series during the 1960’s and 70’s. His orchestra featured an outstanding group of musicians, including a top quartet of trumpeters; Dick, Frank Beach, George Werth, and George Wendt. The group swings easily through a fine arrangement of Bix’s 1927 composition In A Mist, with a bright brass front line melody alternating with piano runs by Paul Smith. Dick composed Fat Annie’s Place in 1959, and the Big Seven recorded it in April, 1959 with a slow, slinky 12-bar blues arrangement featuring a short but sweet solo by Matty Matlock on clarinet. The band also recorded Chinatown, My Chinatown during the same session, opening the song with a Chinese gong, followed by drummer Nick Fatools tapping out a giddy rhythm with chop sticks and bells, setting the band up for a raucous, rousing rush to the finish with two minutes of delightful Dixieland delirium.

    This is an outstanding collection of songs from Dick Cathcart’s career. A 12-page booklet is included, with notes and comments by jazz trumpeter and author Digby Fairweather. Ray Crick compiled the music, and Martin Haskell performed the audio restoration and remastering. The sound quality is very good.

    Bruce McCollum

  26. see also review by Jonathan Woolf

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