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Swing High, Swing Low
     

Swing High, Swing Low

by Bert Firman
 
Although extensive use of pseudonyms prevented him from ever achieving fame comparable to that of Bert Ambrose, Jack Hylton, or Roy Fox, Bert Firman (born Herbert Feuerman in 1906) was one of the busiest British bandleaders of the 1920s and '30s. Three years after his death in 1999,

Overview

Although extensive use of pseudonyms prevented him from ever achieving fame comparable to that of Bert Ambrose, Jack Hylton, or Roy Fox, Bert Firman (born Herbert Feuerman in 1906) was one of the busiest British bandleaders of the 1920s and '30s. Three years after his death in 1999, Living Era released Swing High, Swing Low, a sampling of his work from the years 1924-1937. Inexplicably, its time line tapers off several months short of September 1937 when Bert Firman's Quintuplets of Swing cut four instrumentals for Parlophone. As these were almost certainly the best real jazz records he ever presided over, it is a puzzling and grievous omission. What did make it onto this set adds up to an impressive smattering of vintage English jazz and dance band records by various ensembles under Firman's leadership. In addition to juggling the ensemble designations (as in the Arcadians Dance Orchestra, the Ariel Dance Orchestra, the Carlton Hotel Orchestra, and the Midnight Follies Orchestra), the leader also masqueraded under imaginary monikers like Newton Carlisle, Eugene Brockman, and Hal Christa. Yet Firman by any other name was always Firman. During his day he had the good sense to employ some of the best jazzmen active in England. Instrumentalists heard on this set include trombonist Ted Heath as well as trumpeters Frank Guarente and Chelsea Quealey. There is some fine blowing by reedman Freddy Gardner, Carroll Gibbons is heard at the piano, and multi-percussionist Rudy Starita handles drums, vibraphone, and xylophone. Although this is the most widely distributed Firman retrospective, it is a far cry from the extensively reissued recordings of Firman's contemporaries. According to Brian Rust, the jazz-worthy entries in Firman's discography amount to more than 250 titles, mostly by Firman's scaled-down swing group that was billed on Zonophone Records as the Rhythmic Eight. Seeing as Firman served as musical director at Zonophone from 1924-1928, and taking all of the evidence into consideration, the number of recordings that took place under his direct supervision must have been truly enormous. In light of this, Living Era's offering seems like a nice little prelude, as the bulk of Firman's considerable legacy awaits systematic reissuing and rediscovery by 21st century audiences.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/22/2002
Label:
Asv Living Era
UPC:
0743625540727
catalogNumber:
5407

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bert Firman   Primary Artist
Ted Heath   Trombone
Carroll Gibbons   Piano
Freddy Gardner   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
George Elliott   Guitar
John Firman   Piano
Frank Guarente   Trumpet
Chelsea Quealey   Trumpet
Bob Manning   Drums
E.O. Pogson   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Bill Barton   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Joe Brannelly   Banjo
Perley Breed   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone
Vernon Ferry   Trumpet
Herb Finney   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Cyril Hellier   Viola
Max Lewin   Drums
Rudy Starita   Drums,Xylophone,Vibes
Sylvester Ahola   Trumpet
Max Goldberg   Trumpet
Bert Read   Piano,Celeste
Cecil Norman   Piano,Celeste
Maurice Elwin   Vocals
Sam Costa   Vocals
Billy Bell   Brass Baritone
Cavan O'Connor   Vocals
Arthur Lally   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone
Harry Chapman   Harp
Patrick Whelan   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Jack Trebble   Drums
Charles Rocco   Trumpet
Billy Ball and the Upsetters   Brass Baritone
Bert Firman's Rhythmic Eight   Track Performer
Alec Avery   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Eugene Brockman Dance Orchestra   Performing Ensemble,Track Performer
Newton Carlisle Dance Orchestra   Performing Ensemble,Track Performer
Hal Christa Dance Orchestra   Performing Ensemble,Track Performer
Bert Firman & the Midnight Follies Orchestra   Track Performer
Bert Firman & the Ariel Dance Orchestra   Performing Ensemble,Track Performer
Bert Firman & the Carlton Hotel Dance Orchestra   Performing Ensemble,Track Performer
Bert Firman & the Devonshire Restaurant Dance Band   Band,Track Performer
Bert Firman Dance Orchestra   Performing Ensemble,Track Performer
Bert Firman & the London Orchestra   Track Performer
Andrew Richardson   Trumpet

Technical Credits

George Gershwin   Composer
Milton Ager   Composer
Louis Armstrong   Composer
Jack Yellen   Composer
John Firman   Director
Mark Ranshaw   Cover Illustration
Tim O'Hara   Composer

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