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Unprecedented Measures

by McQuaid's Novelty Jazzers

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about

What if we could hear, for the first time, four brand new tunes from the pioneering golden age of jazz?

'Unprecedented Measures' presents hitherto-unrecorded compositions by jazz pioneers of the 1910s and 1920s. Sourced by Michael McQuaid (under the expert guidance of David Sager) from copyright lead sheets lodged at the Library of Congress, they have been lovingly reconstructed for this mini-album by an international lineup of jazz archeologists.

In each case, Michael McQuaid has transformed the handwritten lead line into a full arrangement that brings these neglected gems off the page at last.

'Jazzland' (1918) is the work of Larry Shields, the influential (yet now underrated) clarinettist of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. The performance here imagines how the tune might have sounded if recorded by the ODJB with Ray Lopez on cornet and Emile Christian (or perhaps a young Miff Mole) on trombone. David Sager provides the exhilarating trombone breaks, while Colin Hancock is responsible for the searing cornet.

Pianists Jimmy Blythe and Clarence Williams collaborated on 'Matilda Brown' (1924), although melodic similarities to some of Blythe's other work - and Williams' status as a publisher - suggest that Blythe might be the main composer. Here the tune receives a characteristic 'washboard band' treatment, featuring stomping piano from Andrew Oliver and wittily rhythmic washboard from Nicholas D. Ball.

Composed by the members of Wade's Moulin Rouge Syncopators, 'Charleston Man Blues' (1924) is an unusual blues number, following its own harmonic structure. McQuaid's loose arrangement here evokes the small band recordings of cornettist Thomas Morris, with a moaning cornet/trombone duet from Colin Hancock and David Sager, and slap tongue saxophone from Michael McQuaid. Pianist Andrew Oliver alludes to co-composer Teddy Weatherford's richly orchestral style in his solo.

The legendary New Orleans clarinettist George Baquet wrote '(I've Got Those) Shouting Blues' (1923). It turns out to be highly original both melodically and harmonically, with surprising twists and turns throughout. Here the musicians imagine how the tune might have sounded had it been recorded by fellow New Orleanian Jelly Roll Morton's trio. Note Nicholas D. Ball's ebullient percussion throughout.

Finally we have a special treat - two of the above tracks, 'live mixed' at performance volume to 78rpm record by acoustic recording expert Colin Hancock. Comparison with the digitally recorded versions provides an eye-opening insight into how performances documented by acoustic recording might have sounded in person.

The cynical among us might argue that unrecorded tunes perhaps remained unrecorded with good reason. But we feel that these four intriguing tunes are well worth hearing - and playing.

credits

released July 14, 2021

McQuaid's Novelty Jazzers:
Colin Hancock - cornet
Michael McQuaid - clarinet, alto sax, arrangements
David Sager - trombone
Andrew Oliver - piano
Nicholas D. Ball - drums, washboard

Recording by the musicians, January - July 2021
Mixing and mastering by Michael McQuaid
Acoustic engineering by Colin Hancock
Remastering of acoustic recordings by Andrew Oliver
Artwork by Nicholas D. Ball
Produced by Michael McQuaid

Special thanks to David Sager for his invaluable guidance at the Library of Congress. Without him, this release wouldn't have been possible.

Composer details:

Jazzland (One Step):
Written by Larry Shields, lodged for copyright on Dec 13, 1918. The lead sheet credits the arrangement as being by J. Russell Robinson, perhaps suggesting it was he who notated it for Shields.

Matilda Brown:
Written by James (Jimmy) Blythe and Clarence Williams, lodged for copyright on Jun 10, 1924.

Charleston Man Blues:
Written by Wade's Moulin Rouge Syncopators, lodged for copyright on Feb 29, 1924. The lead sheet also bears the names Edwin Jackson, Edward (Eddie) South, Arnett Nelson, Vernon Roulette, Theo. (Teddy) Weatherford, James Wade, William Dover and Lewis Gross.

(I've Got Those) Shouting Blues:
Written by George Baquet, lodged for copyright on Oct 2, 1923.

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about

Michael McQuaid London, UK

Australian Michael McQuaid plays jazz and swing from the 1920s and 30s with remarkable energy and originality.

He has toured the world as a featured artist and bandleader, and has performed with many of the greats of 1920s and 1930s jazz – Keith Nichols, Vince Giordano, Bob Wilber, Spats Langham, Andy Schumm, Bob Barnard, Jon-Erik Kellso, Duke Heitger, Geoff Bull, Josh Duffee and many more.
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