|Fellow columnist Bill Fuller recently listed “records from the 1920’s that I’d just have to have
with me if I were stranded on a desert island,” nominating some eight titles and inviting a
He reminded me of an article I wrote for Just Jazz, the British magazine, which appeared on
the November 2001 issue. That magazine had invited submission of “Favorite 8 jazz
recordings,” not necessarily from any one period, which set me to thinking of what the eight
were that got me interested in jazz in the first place.
While not necessarily a response to Bill, that article of mine (below, with a couple of textual
edits) listed recordings that I wouldn’t mind at all having with me on that island!
The eight recordings here I fondly recall as being among the first to draw me away from 'pop'
stuff into jazz as a 16-year-old high school pupil in Dundee, Scotland, in the early 50s.
Most were 78s, which I still have, having lugged them all the way to San Francisco in 1956!
1. Want A Girl - The Saints Jazz Band For sheer excitement, one would be hard-pressed to
find a recording to top this one. I have listened to most of the Saints' output since, and none
of what I heard ever reached this level again. No wonder the audience at the festival roared!
2. I'm Travellin'- Crane River Jazz Band I remember that this blues track from the same
festival, the other side of the record cited above, made the hairs stand up on the back of my
neck. In those days a common expression when one was knocked out by something was to be
'sent,' and this recording 'sent' me.
3. Tishomingo Blues - Bunk Johnson's New Orleans Band This Brunswick recording (with
Alexander's Ragtime Band on the other side) was one of the first I heard by Bunk Johnson
and the others who, as I later discovered, were to become the George Lewis Band.
4. Richard M. Jones Blues - Yerba Buena Jazz Band The Lu Watters group was known to
some British fans as 'stodgy,’ with a rhythm section that was labeled by one critic as
sounding "like a gouty old elephant." But for power and sincerity, they would be hard to
5. Tuxedo Rag - Ken Colyer Jazzmen Another recording of a festival performance that had to
get the adrenaline of the audience pumping. Ever since, Colyer has remained one of my
6. Jazz Me Blues - Bix Beiderbecke When I later came across Hoagy Carmichael's statement,
"When I first heard Bix play I nearly fell off the davenport," I knew exactly what he meant
from having heard the breaks Bix plays on this ten-inch Columbia LP recording.
7. West End Blues - Louis Armstrong's Hot 5 If Louis never recorded anything else in his
life, this one, with its classic opening cadenza, would be enough to get him into the Jazz
Hall of Fame.
8. Sing On - Chris Barber Jazz Band I recall this being on my first Barber recording, four
gospel tunes on an EP on the Columbia label. For my money, this EP is still one of the best
records issued by Barber.