Mardi Soir Sessions volume IV
Stirin' the Hotpot

Stirin' the Hotpot - Los Hermanos Brothers:

TRACKLIST: Mardi Soir Sessions (Vol.4):
“Stirrin' the Hotpot”

1. Mills Brothers - Diga, Diga Doo
2. Fats Waller - Mamacita
3. Count Basie - Topsy
4. Artie Shaw - Grabtown Grapple
5. Bob Zurke's Delta Rhyhm Band - Rhumboogie
6. Harry James & His Orch. - Back Beat Boogie
7. Jimmy Dorsey & His Orch. ft. Louis Armstrong - Swing That Music
8. Fletcher Henderson & His Orch. - Big John's Special
9. Woody Herman & His Orch. - (At The) Woodchopper's Ball
10. Mugsy Spanier - Big Butter & Egg Man
11. Mel Torme - It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
12. Woody Herman & His Orch. - Woodsheddina With Woody
13. Benny Goodman & His Orch. - Sing, Sing, Sing
14. Artie Shaw - Traffic Jam
15. Ray Bauduc & Bob Haggart - Big Noise From Winnetka
16. Hot Lips Page Orchestra - Harlem Rhumbain' The Blues
17. Tommy Dorsey - Sheik Of Araby
18. Andy Kirk - Cuban Boogie Woogie
19. The Benny Goodman Quartet - Runnin' Wild
20. Lionel Hampton - Ring Dem Bells
21. The Benny Goodman Quartet - I've Got A Heartful Of Music
22. Count Basie - Skol Sister
23. Harry James - Woo-Woo
24. Duke Ellington - Castle Rock

Charleston, Foxtrot, Jitterbug, Rumba, Lindy Hop, Congeroo or Suzy Q ... This month's session takes you to the bal. From the very origins of Harlem's dance halls to Benny Goodman's Carnegie Hall concert, we try to imagine just how hot New York's night life must have been swingin' in those days. All the tracks on this compilation were selected in order of the extend in which they remind us of those other « tracks », those left by dancers' shoes on the wooden floor of a ball room, after a night of frenzy. So dust of your tuxedo, iron your nylon dress ... and get ready to jump and jive, because Los Hermanos' « Stririn' the Hotpot » is home to the happy feet.


Although swing largely began when Louis Armstrong joined Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra in 1924 and Don Redman began writing arrangements for the band that echoed the cornetist's relaxed phrases, the swing era officially started in 1935 when Benny Goodman's Orchestra caught on. Swing was a major force in American popular music until the big-band era largely ended in 1946. Swing differs from New Orleans jazz and Dixieland in that the ensembles (even for small groups) are simpler and generally filled with repetitious riffs, while in contrast the solos are more sophisticated. Individual improvisations still paid close attention to the melody but due to the advance in musicianship, the solo flights were more adventurous. The most prominent stars of swing during the big-band era included trumpeters Louis Armstrong, Harry James, and Roy Eldridge; trombonists Tommy Dorsey and Jack Teagarden; clarinetists Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw; tenor saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Ben Webster; altoists Johnny Hodges and Benny Carter; pianists Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, Earl Hines, Count Basie, and Nat King Cole; guitarist Charlie Christian; drummers Gene Krupa and Chick Webb; vibraphonist Lionel Hampton; bandleader Glenn Miller; and vocalists such as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.

Although virtually all jazz groups prior to the rise of bebop in the early to mid-'40s played for dancers, the term Dance Bands is used to describe orchestras of the 1920s and '30s whose primary function was to play background music for dancers rather than to serve as vehicles for jazz improvisations. The more progressive dance bands left some room for short solos and by the late '20s most of the less commercial dance bands had brief spots in their arrangements for trumpeters or reed players to solo after the vocal refrain. After 1945, dance orchestras became less common, were often tied to nostalgia, and were much less relevant to jazz.


Ragtime enjoyed its peak popularity between 1897 and 1918. A modification of the march with addition of polyrhythms coming from African music, it began as dance music in the red-light districts of American cities such as St. Louis and New Orleans years before being published as popular sheet music for piano. Ragtime fell out of favor as jazz claimed the public's imagination after 1917, but there have been numerous revivals. The first of those in the early 1940s, when many jazz bands began to include ragtime in their repertoire and put out ragtime recordings. A more significant revival occurred in the 1950s as a wider variety of ragtime styles of the past were made available on records, and new rags were composed, published, and recorded.

A distinctly American musical style, ragtime may be considered a synthesis of African syncopation and European classical music. In 1895, black entertainer Ernest Hogan published two of the earliest sheet music rags, one of which ("All Coons Look Alike to Me") eventually sold a million copies. As fellow black musician Tom Fletcher said, Hogan was the "first to put on paper the kind of rhythm that was being played by non-reading musicians." While the song's success helped introduce the country to ragtime rhythms, its use of racial slurs created a number of derogatory imitation tunes, known as coon songs because of their use of extremely racist and stereotypical images of blacks. In Hogan's later years he admitted shame and a sense of "race betrayal" for the song while also expressing pride in helping bring ragtime to a larger audience.

The emergence of mature ragtime is usually dated to 1897, the year in which several important arly rags were published. In 1899, Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" was published, which became a great hit and demonstrated more depth and sophistication than earlier ragtime. Ragtime was one of the main influences on the early development of jazz (along with the blues). Some artists, like Jelly Roll Morton, were present and performed both ragtime and jazz styles during the period the two genres overlapped. Jazz largely surpassed ragtime in mainstream popularity in the early 1920s.

Boogie Woogie

Boogie Woogie, or "barrelhouse" is a blues-based piano style in which the right hand plays an accompaniment figure that resembles a strummed rhythm, such as is typically played on the guitar or banjo in rural blues dances.  The style probably evolved in the American Midwest alongside that of ragtime, to which it is closely related. Elements of boogie-woogie can be found prior to 1910 in piano works by such disparate figures such as Blind Boone, Luckey Roberts and the classical composer Charles Ives. The earliest recorded examples of boogie woogie are found on piano rolls made in 1922 by Cow Cow Davenport, and by the end of the 1920s dozens of boogie woogie pianists had recorded ranging geographically from Texas to Chicago. Boogie-woogie practically disappeared from records during the depression. 
However, it returned with a vengeance in the late '30s, popularized by a smart Deane Kincaide arrangement for Tommy Dorsey’s band of the 1929 composition "Boogie Woogie" written by Clarence "Pine Top" Smith, a Chicago pianist who is also credited with coining the term. Boogie-woogie enjoyed its heyday in the early '40s, and as a result, one-time Chicago barrelhouse pianists such as Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis and Pete Johnson found themselves feted as celebrities in New York’s exclusive café society circles. After the Second World War interest in the style subsided, but elements of the sound were absorbed into the playing of early rock & roll artists such as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. 


The styles of jazz that were popular from the late teens through the late 1920s were usually played with rhythms with a two beat feel, and often attempted to reproduce the style of contrapuntal improvisation developed by the first generation of jazz musicians in New Orleans. In the late 1920s, however, larger ensembles using written arrangements became the norm, and a subtle stylistic shift took place in the rhythm, which developed a four beat feel with a smoothly syncopated style of playing the melody, while the rhythm section supported it with a steady four to the bar.
Swing was created by African Americans, and its impact on the overall American culture was such that it marked and named an entire era of the USA, the swing era. Such an influence from the Black community was unprecedented in any western country. Swing music abandoned the string orchestra and used simpler, "edgier" arrangements that emphasized horns and wind instruments and improvised melodies.
A typical song played in swing style would feature a strong, anchoring rhythm section in support of more loosely tied wind, brass, and later, in the 1940s, string and/or vocals sections. The level of improvisation that the audience might expect at any one time varied depending on the arrangement, the band, the song, and the band-leader. The most common style consisted of having a soloist take center stage, and improvise a solo within the framework of his or her bandmates playing support. As a song progressed, multiple soloists would be expected to take over and individually improvise their own part; however, it was not unusual to have two or three band members improvising at any one time.

Compared to the styles of the 1920s, the overall effect was a more sophisticated sound, but with an exciting feel of its own. Most jazz bands adopted this style by the early 1930s. Swing's birth has been traced by some jazz historians to Chick Webb's stand in Harlem in 1931, but they noted the music failed to take off because the onset of the Depression in earnest that year killed the nightclub business, particularly in poor black areas like Harlem. Fletcher Henderson, another bandleader from this period who needed work, lent his arrangement talent to Goodman. Goodman had auditioned and won a spot on a radio show, "Let's Dance," but only had a few songs; he needed more. Henderson's arrangements are what gave him his bigger repertoire and distinctive sound. The audience of young white dancers favored Goodman's "hot" rhythms and daring swing arrangements. Benny Goodman became one of the first swing bandleaders to achieve widespread fame.
With the wider acceptance of swing music around 1935, larger mainstream bands began to embrace this style of music. Up until the swing era, jazz had been taken in high regard by the most serious musicians around the world, including classical composers like Stravinsky; swing on the contrary, with its "dance craze", ended being regarded as a degeneration towards light entertainment, more of an industry to sell records to the masses than a form of art. Many musicians after failing at serious music switched to swing.

Swing jazz began to be embraced by the public around 1935. Prior to that, it had had limited acceptance, mostly among black audiences. Radio remotes increased interest in the music, and it grew in popularity throughout the States. As with many new popular musical styles, it met with some resistance from the public because of its improvisation, fast erratic tempos, lack of strings, occasionally risqué lyrics and other cultural associations, such as the sometimes frenetic swing dancing that accompanied performances. Audiences who had become used to the romantic arrangements (and what was perceived as classier and more refined music), were taken aback by the often erratic and edginess of swing music.
German swing bands, virtually unknown to British and American swing band followers, thrived in the early 1940s in spite of an official Nazi campaign against "decadent Western music". German authorities in fact created a Swing band called "Charlie and His Orchestra" to record hot swing and dance music. Records were dropped over "enemy" lines by parachute.
Swing music began to decline in popularity during World War II because of several factors. Most importantly it became difficult to staff a "big band" because many musicians were overseas fighting in the war. Also, the cost of touring with a large ensemble became prohibitive because of wartime economics. These two factors made smaller three- to five-piece combos more profitable and manageable.

 John H. Hammond

John Henry Hammond II was a record producer, musician and music critic from the 1930s to the early 1980s. In his service as a talent scout, Hammond became one of the most influential figures in 20th century popular music.
Hammond was instrumental in sparking or furthering numerous musical careers, including those of Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Teddy Wilson, but also Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Bruce Springsteen.

In 1931, he funded the recording of pianist Garland Wilson, marking the beginning of a long string of artistic successes as record producer. He moved to Greenwich Village, where he claimed to have engaged in bohemian life and worked for an integrated music world. He set up one of the first regular live jazz programs, and wrote regularly about the racial divide. As he wrote in his memoirs, "I heard no color line in the music....To bring recognition to the negro’s supremacy in jazz was the most effective and constructive form of social protest I could think of." Hammond was given to exaggeration when speaking of his own achievements, but he had much to be acclaimed for.
By 1932–1933, through his involvement in the UK music paper Melody Maker, Hammond arranged for the faltering US Columbia label to provide recordings for the UK Columbia label, mostly using the Columbia W-265000 matrix series. Hammond recorded Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, Joe Venuti, and other jazz performers during a time when the economy was bad enough that many of them would not have had the opportunity to enter a studio and play real jazz.
He played a role in organizing Benny Goodman's band, and in persuading him to hire black musicians such as Charlie Christian, Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton. In 1933 he heard the seventeen-year-old Billie Holiday perform in Harlem and arranged for her recording debut, on a Benny Goodman session. Four years later, he heard the Count Basie orchestra broadcasting from Kansas City and brought it to New York, where it began to receive national attention. 

 Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman was the first celebrated bandleader of the Swing Era, dubbed "The King of Swing," his popular emergence marking the beginning of the era. He was an accomplished clarinetist whose distinctive playing gave an identity both to his big band and to the smaller units he led simultaneously. The most popular figure of the first few years of the Swing Era, he continued to perform until his death 50 years later.
Goodman was the son of Russian immigrants David Goodman, a tailor, and Dora Rezinsky Goodman. He first began taking clarinet lessons at ten at a synagogue. He made his professional debut at 12 and dropped out of high school at 14 to become a musician. At 16, in August 1925, he joined the Ben Pollack band, with which he made his first released band recordings in December 1926. His first recordings under his own name were made in January 1928. At 20, in September 1929, he left Pollack to settle in New York and work as a freelance musician, working at recording sessions, radio dates, and in the pit bands of Broadway musicals. He signed to Columbia Records in the fall of 1934 and reached the Top Ten in early 1934 with "Ain't Cha Glad?" (vocal by Jack Teagarden), "Riffin' the Scotch" (vocal by Billie Holiday), and "Ol' Pappy" (vocal by Mildred Bailey), and in the spring with "I Ain't Lazy, I'm Just Dreamin'" (vocal by Jack Teagarden). After a four-and-a-half-month stay at the Music Hall, he was signed for the Saturday night Let's Dance program on NBC radio, playing the last hour of the three-hour show. During the six months he spent on the show, he scored another six Top Ten hits on Columbia, then switched to RCA Victor, for which he recorded five more Top Ten hits by the end of the year.  
After leaving Let's Dance, Goodman undertook a national tour in the summer of 1935. It was not particularly successful until he reached the West Coast, where his segment of Let's Dance had been heard three hours earlier than on the East Coast. His performance at the Palomar Ballroom near Los Angeles on August 21, 1935, was a spectacular success, remembered as the date on which the Swing Era began. On top of the Let's Dance airplay, Al Jarvis had been playing Goodman records on KFWB radio, and Los Angeles fans were primed to hear him in person. Goodman started the evening with stock arrangements, but after an indifferent response, began the second set with the arrangements by Fletcher Henderson and Spud Murphy. According to Willard Alexander, the band's booking agent, Krupa said "If we're gonna die, Benny, let's die playing our own thing." The crowd broke into cheers and applause. News reports spread word of the enthusiastic dancing and exciting new music that was happening. Over the course of the engagement, the "Jitterbug" began to appear as a new dance craze, and radio broadcasts carried the band's performances across the nation.
In November 1935 Goodman accepted an invitation to play in Chicago at the Congress Hotel. These "Rhythm Club" concerts at the Congress Hotel included sets in which Goodman and Krupa sat in with Fletcher Henderson's band, perhaps the first racially integrated big band appearance before a paying audience in the United States. Goodman and Krupa played in a trio with Teddy Wilson on piano. Both combinations were well-received, and Wilson stayed on. Shortly after Goodman and crew left Chicago in May 1936 to spend the summer filming The Big Broadcast of 1937 in Hollywood, the title "King of Swing" was applied to Goodman by the media. Goodman left record company RCA for Columbia, following his agent and soon to be brother-in-law John Hammond.

In bringing jazz to Carnegie, [Benny Goodman was], in effect, smuggling American contraband into the halls of European high culture, and Goodman and his 15 men pull[ed] it off with the audacity and precision of « Ocean's eleven ». 
—Will Friedwald

In late 1937, Goodman's publicist Wynn Nathanson attempted a publicity stunt by suggesting Goodman and his band should play Carnegie Hall in New York City. If this concert were to take place, then Benny Goodman would be the first jazz bandleader to perform at Carnegie Hall. "Benny Goodman was initially hesitant about the concert, fearing for the worst; however, when his film Hollywood Hotel opened to rave reviews and giant lines, he threw himself into the work. He gave up several dates and insisted on holding rehearsals inside Carnegie Hall to familiarize the band with the lively acoustics."
The concert was the evening of January 16, 1938. It sold out weeks before, with the capacity 2,760 seats going for the top price of US$2.75 a seat, for the time a very high price. The concert began with three contemporary numbers from the Goodman band—"Don't Be That Way," "Sometimes I'm Happy," and "One O'Clock Jump." They then played a history of jazz, starting with a Dixieland quartet performing "Sensation Rag." Once again, initial crowd reaction, though polite, was tepid. Then came a jam session on "Honeysuckle Rose" featuring members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands as guests. The surprise of the session: Goodman handing a solo to Basie's guitarist Freddie Greene who was never a featured soloist but earned his reputation as the best rhythm guitarist in the genre - he responded with a striking round of chord improvisations. As the concert went on, things livened up. By the time the band got to the climactic piece "Sing, Sing, Sing", success was assured. This concert has been regarded as one of the most significant in jazz history. After years of work by musicians from all over the country, jazz had finally been accepted by mainstream audiences. 

Artie Shaw

Widely regarded as "one of jazz's finest clarinetists," Shaw led one of America's most popular big bands of the late 1930s and early '40s. Their signature song, a 1938 version of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine," was a wildly successful single and one of the era's defining recordings. Musically restless, Shaw was also an early proponent of Third Stream, which blended classical and jazz, and recorded some small-group sessions that flirted with be-bop before retiring from music in 1954. He spent the rest of the 1950s living in Europe.

Woody Herman

A fine swing clarinetist, an altoist whose sound was influenced by Johnny Hodges, a good soprano saxophonist, and a spirited blues vocalist, Woody Herman's greatest significance to jazz was as the leader of a long line of big bands. He always encouraged young talent and, more than practically any bandleader from the swing era, kept his repertoire quite modern. 
Woody Herman began performing as a child, singing in vaudeville. He started playing saxophone when he was 11, and four years later he was a professional musician. The great majority of the early Herman recordings feature the bandleader as a ballad vocalist, but it was the instrumentals that caught on, leading to his group being known as "the Band That Plays the Blues." Woody Herman's theme "At the Woodchopper's Ball" became his first hit (1939). By 1943, the Woody Herman Orchestra was beginning to take its first steps into becoming the Herd (later renamed the First Herd). Herman had recorded an advanced Dizzy Gillespie arrangement ("Down Under") the year before, and during 1943, Herman's band became influenced by Duke Ellington; in fact, Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster made guest appearances on some recordings. It was a gradual process, but by the end of 1944, Woody Herman had what was essentially a brand new orchestra. It was a wild, good-time band with screaming ensembles, and a rhythm section pushed by bassist/cheerleader Chubby Jackson and drummer Dave Tough. In 1945, the First Herd was considered the most exciting new big band in jazz. Even Igor Stravinsky was impressed, and he wrote "Ebony Concerto" for the orchestra to perform in 1946. By mid-1947, he had a new orchestra, the Second Herd, which was also soon known as the Four Brothers band. With the three cool-toned tenors of Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, and Herbie Steward (who a year later was replaced by Al Cohn) forming the nucleus, this orchestra had a different sound than its more extroverted predecessor, but it could also generate excitement of its own. Trumpeter/arranger Shorty Rogers and eventually Bill Harris returned from the earlier outfit, and with Mary Ann McCall back as a vocalist, the group had a great deal of potential. But, despite such popular numbers as Jimmy Giuffre's "Four Brothers," "The Goof and I," and "Early Autumn" (the latter ballad made Getz into a star), the band struggled financially. Before its collapse in 1949, other musicians such as Gene Ammons, Lou Levy, Oscar Pettiford, Terry Gibbs, and Shelly Manne made important contributions.