Posts Tagged ‘recordings’

New Wave Bassoon

Mo 45rpm Single  Cover

In my ongo­ing quest to find bas­soons in unex­pect­ed places, I’ve uncov­ered a new gem. The Mo (or some­times sim­ply “Mo”) was a Dutch New Wave band formed in 1979 by broth­ers Clemens and Huub de Lange. The band had a cou­ple of incar­na­tions, but its ini­tial line­up includ­ed singer Heili Helder, drum­mer Harm Bieger, Clemens de Lange on key­boards, and Huub de Lange on key boards and — you guessed it — bas­soon. Huub de Lange appears to be known most­ly as a choral com­pos­er now; here’s his Choral­Wi­ki page. I wrote to him ask­ing some ques­tions about the band, but got no response.

A num­ber of the songs on The Mo’s epony­mous 1980 album include bas­soon. But one song in par­tic­u­lar stands out. “Band With Bas­soon” not only includes Huub de Lange’s bas­soon play­ing, but is also self-ref­er­en­tial­ly about a band that uses a bas­soon! “Band With Bas­soon” also appears on a 45rpm sin­gle from the album (the cov­er of the sin­gle can be seen above). Here it is:

Listen to The Mo - Band With Bassoon

I’ve done my best to tran­scribe the lyrics, but there’s a line of two in the third verse that I just can’t quite make out. If you can fig­ure out what she’s singing there, please let me know.

So, guess what we found on the moon
Down in the crater lake
Don’t think our sto­ry is fake
A band with bas­soon

So, can you imag­ine our joy
They cap­tured us with their sound
Know­ing they couldn’t go wrong
The band with bas­soon

Boy, […play­ing a…]
Just a [lit­tle child]
So he said: “Bas­soon band,
You’ll be the star in our land”

Then, we got into the ship
Takin’ ‘em back to the earth
And we sang “Bas­soon band,
You’ll be the star in our land”

So, they’re rock­ing the world with their tune
Young kids, they shout for more
They nev­er seen that before
A band with bas­soon

YouTube, that great repos­i­to­ry of for­got­ten cul­ture, has two videos of The Mo in action. Both seem to be tak­en from about twelfth-gen­er­a­tion tape copies of TV broad­casts, but they’re still watch­able. The first is a song called “Nan­cy” that fea­tures Huub de Lange rock­ing out front and cen­ter on bas­soon in a shiny bright blue 80s out­fit:

 

There’s no bas­soon play­ing in “Fred Astaire,” but de Lange has his horn at the ready in a stand next to his key­board:

Jazz Bassoon — Graham Lyons

My main area of research in the past few years has been the use of the bas­soon in jazz; in fact, I wrote my dis­ser­ta­tion on the sub­ject. But I’ve thus far neglect­ed writ­ing about it here, most­ly because there’s too much infor­ma­tion to con­dense into a sin­gle blog post! I’ll get around to writ­ing a his­tor­i­cal overview at some point, but for now, suf­fice it to say that there have been hun­dreds of jazz record­ings (close to a thou­sand, actu­al­ly) that include bas­soon­ists in var­i­ous roles, dat­ing back to at least the ear­ly 1920s.

Jazz Bassoon Cover

Today, as a start­ing point, I’m going to write about a recent addi­tion to my own record col­lec­tion: a 45rpm sin­gle enti­tled Jazz Bas­soon. The record was pressed in 1967, and fea­tures Gra­ham Lyons on bas­soon (also, as the cov­er points out, on clar­inet, sax, piano, and as arranger). I often hunt for par­tic­u­lar records; this wasn’t one of those. In fact, even though I’ve assem­bled an exten­sive discog­ra­phy of jazz record­ing ses­sions involv­ing bas­soon, I had exact­ly zero knowl­edge of this disc before it popped up on eBay.

I knew a bit about Gra­ham Lyons him­self, though. Among oth­er things, he record­ed a few tunes on bas­soon, clar­inet, and bari sax with the British trad jazz band The Tem­per­ance Sev­en in the ear­ly 60s. Lyons has led a var­ied career as a per­former, com­pos­er, and teacher of mul­ti­ple wood­wind instru­ments. One of his recent endeav­ors is the Clar­inéo, a sim­pli­fied plas­tic clar­inet for young play­ers. But this record­ing of his, released on a tiny label (that may in fact have been owned by Lyons him­self), had flown com­plete­ly under my radar.

Jazz Bassoon Record

The A side of this disc is a Lyons orig­i­nal enti­tled “Bas­soono­va.” This tune has been either re-released or re-record­ed on a CD col­lec­tion of Lyons’s works, so I won’t post it here. It is, as you’d expect, a bossa nova. Lyons takes a rel­a­tive­ly lengthy solo on bas­soon in addi­tion to play­ing all the parts in sec­tions of four-part bas­soon har­mo­ny and dual clar­inets. All of this is sup­port­ed by a rhythm sec­tion of Lyons again on piano, Rob Rubin on bass, and Bill Eyden on drums.

The B side, Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris,” has a mul­ti-part intro that starts off with two bas­soons over a piano/bass drone. Once the band hits the tune itself, Lyons plays just a bit of the melody on bas­soon before tak­ing a cho­rus and a half worth of solo. He fol­lows this with brief solos on bari sax, clar­inet, and piano. But here, lis­ten for your­self:

Listen to Graham Lyons - I Love Paris

The back side of the sleeve has actu­al notes — rare on 7″ sin­gles, at least in my expe­ri­ence. These con­firm what we might guess from the title, that Lyons is with this record try­ing to make the point that the bas­soon can be a viable jazz instru­ment. “I want­ed to show the bas­soon in all its reg­is­ters,” Lyons writes, “the dif­fer­ent ways it could be used, and how it would fit in a jazz set­ting.” He also touch­es on what he sees as the main rea­son the bas­soon hasn’t been used more in jazz: “A tricky phrase which might take fif­teen min­utes to prac­tice and get right on a clar­inet or sax­o­phone is sure to take an hour on the bas­soon.” This is a great addi­tion to my quotes file, and echoes pub­lished com­ments by oth­er jazz bas­soon play­ers like Illi­nois Jacquet and Paul Han­son (more on them anoth­er time).

Disco Bassoon

I Love Your Big Bassoon

I keep a vari­ety of online feel­ers out for bas­soon-relat­ed things. Much of what comes back to me is spam or oth­er­wise unin­ter­est­ing. But, I do find out about arti­cles and con­certs that I might not oth­er­wise. My favorite sort of dis­cov­er­ies, though, are of obscure and often long-for­got­ten bits of bas­soon mis­cel­lany.

That’s exact­ly what I came across a cou­ple of weeks ago in the record whose cov­er you see at right. It’s a 7-inch 45 rpm sin­gle by the Nov­el­ty Dis­co Band, record­ed and pressed in France in 1977. After find­ing men­tion of it online, I bought a copy from some­one in Spain. It showed up on my doorstep late last week. Although the A-side tune “I Love Your Big Bas­soon” is, per­haps pre­dictably, main­ly a vehi­cle for dou­ble enten­dres, it does in fact fea­ture a bas­soon play­ing short riffs and dis­co basslines. Actu­al­ly, it sounds to me like a French bas­son, which would make sense giv­en the place and time. Edit: Marc Val­lon has point­ed out that’s it’s not a bas­son, just a poor­ly mic-ed Ger­man bas­soon.

I’ve been unable to find out any­thing about the Nov­el­ty Dis­co Band — this appears to be the only record released under that name. The label and sleeve pro­vide very lit­tle in the way of real infor­ma­tion. The only per­son­nel list­ed are the song­writ­ers: D. Chase and J.P. Sabard. A lit­tle ‘net research leads me to think that their full (and real) names are Dina (or Diana) Chase and Jean-Pierre Guigon. But there the trail ends. Sad­ly, there is no indi­ca­tion of who the bas­soon­ist is.

Have a lis­ten:

Listen to Novelty Disco Band - I Love Your Big Bassoon