KING 4482; OCTOBER 1951



After having his first released side on King Records basically be a Todd Rhodes record with his vocals on top of it, here on the flip side Dave Bartholomew is the unquestioned centerpiece around which everything else revolves.

But as an instrumental that means it’s his trumpet – not his voice – that hogs the spotlight, a horn that even in the best of circumstances is an awkward fit in rock ‘n’ roll.

Furthermore without his own New Orleans based band in support the unique textures Bartholomew relied on would be missing and since the trumpet tends to blend in better with the musical gumbo of The Crescent City this could be a potential train wreck, derailing his King tenure before it even pulls out of the station.

Yet surprisingly this unlikely record is soon cruising comfortably down the track, showing that sometimes all you really need to do is put good musicians together and let them go to work.


Splitting The Egg
Okay, let’s start off with the glaring question that looms over this side of Dave Bartholomew’s debut on King… namely, how well does a trumpet led instrumental actually FIT into the rock landscape of 1951?

Isn’t this an idea that would’ve been ill-conceived even for 1947 or 1948 rock ‘n’ roll before the style fully shed its jazzier musical attributes, let alone four years later when the ground rules have been well established and largely excised the trumpet from anything more than an occasional supporting role?

Furthermore, since Todd Rhodes’ band has its own ties to pre-rock styles that occasionally crop up in their own records, is it possible… even likely… that Twins is going to be the word you’d use to describe the musical tastes of the record’s primary contributors, both who have a lifelong affinity for jazz-based styles despite their hefty rock credentials?

Well, the answer to those questions are… yes, that’s exactly what you’d expect from such a pairing on an instrumental like this, but no, that’s not quite what they give you.

Of course there’s definitely some attributes that are somewhat removed from the rock arrangements of the day, but their intent clearly wasn’t to emphasize those aspects and take this record further away from rock, but rather these two highly respected figures seemed to want to tie it in with the music they were both making their names on and which King Records had brought them in to give them.

In that regard they do a pretty good job with that task, all things considered.


Not Identical But Fraternal
Horns… horns… horns.

If you don’t like them, regardless of WHICH type of horn we’re talking about, then this is not going to be something you’ll be able to tolerate for long because there are so many horns playing so many parts that you can’t escape them.

We’ve got Bartholomew’s trumpet front and center playing a rhythmic lead, melodic and yet nicely in a groove backed by future Motown legend Benny Benjamin laying down a steady galloping drum beat.

Meanwhile we have Willie Wells answering Bartholomew with trumpet flourishes of his own in the background.

TWO trumpets?!?! Usually that’s two too many but they make it work well enough early on and really only falter briefly around the 1:25 mark when Bartholomew is improvising a little too much and loses the thread that he’d been carrying up to that point.

But that’s a minor complaint… annoying for sure and because of how much the trumpet cuts through your speakers it might be more noticeable than you’d like, but everything else is working together really well to keep your focus on the bigger picture which is where this really excels.

For starters there’s three saxophones, Holly Dismukes on alto, Lefty Edwards on tenor and Teddy Buckner on baritone and all of them are contributing something, whether playing en masse to create a blanket of sound or when Edwards gets his own solo in the second half that rescues Twins from that brief ten seconds where Bartholomew almost runs it off the rails.

That tenor spot reminds you this is definitely a rock record and while it’s not raucous or obscene, it’s cutting a nice groove of its own before Bartholomew comes back for a really good – and fairly subdued – part that holds up nicely as Wells answers him with his own growling trumpet.

But it’s not ALL horns, as the first half features some bright spots from Willie Gaddy’s guitar as Rhodes’ piano is barreling along comfortably behind them all, while the second half finds the rhythm section in top form laying down the beat.

It’s definitely an atypical rock instrumental but a satisfying one all the same, charging ahead with precision on an arrangement that was carefully constructed and then carried out by musicians who took their jobs seriously and had the chops to back up their commitment to both the song and the artist.


All In The Family
So many times in the first 1,600 rock songs it’s been the trumpet that has been the downfall of a record’s chances… not because the musicians couldn’t play, but because they couldn’t figure out how to make that instrument work in a context none of them were entirely sure of quite yet.

Bartholomew was one of the first who understood its limitations within rock arrangements and cut back on his own playing on the records of others to bolster their chances of scoring hits. Yet on his OWN records it’d be slightly harder to hide it unless he chose to simply be a singer, not a musician.

On Twins there’s nothing to sing and so his trumpet has to be featured heavily and yet for the first time instead of being a detriment, he manages to figure out the way that a trumpet led instrumental can maintain the proper attitude for rock, even if the sonic textures still sound a little odd at times.

While we could hardly blame you if you were to remain a little uneasy about having that instrument so dominant in a rock song, what you can’t find fault with is the musicianship or the structure and arrangement of the record which can’t help but offset most of your concerns.

Besides, if you were at a club and these guys started jamming on this with the same exuberance, there’s no way in hell you’d be able to sit still and in rock that tends to be the final arbiter of quality, stylistic reservations be damned.


(Visit the Artist page of Dave Bartholomew for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)