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KING 4458; MAY 1951



Maybe when talking about a guy who is already 43 years old nobody should be shocked that one of his records is a clear example of “old meets new”, but as he has in the past Tiny Bradshaw may draw from the past but his heart’s in the present which is what makes these efforts fit into the current landscape.

This one may not be very ambitious at all and isn’t borrowing a classic component of years gone by, nor is he affixing it to a cutting edge framework pointing towards tomorrow, but as throwaway flip sides go that try and bridge the gap between eras you could do a lot worse than this one.


Like Nobody Else Can Do
Because Tiny Bradshaw had given up drumming years before and was hardly the most technically impressive vocalist, enthusiastic though he may have been about his singing, the reason he was so successful both on stage even before reviving his recording career in rock – was because of the skill of his band.

They’d gone through a few iterations by now, the biggest recent addition being tenor sax star Red Prysock who formerly served as Tiny Grimes’s muscle, but all of Bradshaw’s band had deep roots and the ability – and willingness – to play a variety of styles.

On the surface Bradshaw Boogie – not an instrumental, despite what the title might suggest – appears to be a pretty straightforward rocker, hardly ambitious but not overly simplistic either.

Yet surprisingly they marry the current mindset with a slight throwback to the recent past that makes the song not all it could be in today’s market, yet in a way shows how the jazz of the 1940’s led directly to the rock that followed.

Some would say that while that may be true you don’t want to look backwards and be reminded of what no longer is in vogue, these guys manage to integrate it into the blend in a way that ties it all together and shows that while the fashions, slang and faces may change, the urge to get down remains the same no matter the date on the calendar.


The Band Starts Swinging With A Solid Jump
Not to be overly simplistic but certain styles have certain fallback arranging ideas that are so distinctive that you immediately associate it with that brand of music even if it’s surrounded by other sounds that are alien to that environment.

The big band horn sections are a perfect example. The image of them on stage in their suits, shoulder to shoulder, swaying in precise formation, is a staple of the late 1930’s and 40’s music scene.

When rock came along the horn sections initially came with them but it was soon obvious they were out of place… too regimented, too orderly, too classy and so they gradually got rearranged or broken down for parts. The tenor, which had been an afterthought in lots of jazz outfits – certainly before Illinois Jacquet re-imagined the instrument anyway – stepped out front and improvised while the other horns were only adding tight riffs, heavy on rhythm and light on melody.

With improved amplification the guitar took on greater importance and the drummer went from merely keeping time to stomping out a beat. There was slightly more to it than that obviously, but basically the arranging differences in pre-rock circles and rock ‘n’ roll more or less come down to those basic changes.

On Bradshaw Boogie you get to see those changes play out in front of you as the early horn riffs are straight from the jazz playbook. Alto, tenor, trumpet and trombone playing a bright melodic riffs in unison in between the vocals. For the most part they’re merely adding vibrant tonal passages, switching from high to low at different points in the song, but not contributing anything particularly riveting in the process.

Meanwhile Bradshaw’s playing host and telling a story, the glorified master of ceremonies explaining how his group’s music is what gets his girl up and dancing. What’s interesting about this however is that it’s during the jazzier sections – albeit with a boogie piano and more prominent beat – where he’s describing her in detail and refers obliquely to the band’s effect on her… but it’s when he yells to Red Prysock to “BLOW!” that everything changes – the mood goes from cheerful to exciting, the energy goes from low key to intense and the music shifts from jazzier assimilation to rocking authority – and that’s when the dancing actually starts.

Prysock takes it slow initially, establishing melody first while getting you in a groove, then starts adding more grit to his lines, digging deeper to make it sound just a little dirty to make sure you’re grinding away on the floor rather than carrying out complicated steps. Meanwhile other instruments are starting to stir in the shadows… an electric guitar throws in some licks, Jimmy Robinson adds some notes on organ all while drummer Nab Shields is unrelenting on the backbeat.

Bradshaw comes back invigorated, his tattered voices describing the dance in more explicit – and potentially embarrassing – terms, but it’s doubtful his girl cares much, she’s too lost in the act itself and as Bradshaw and the band become more uninhibited she will too.

Though it has enough decorum to wind things down before she begins discarding articles of clothing on the floor, we know that such an outcome probably isn’t far off as long as the band keeps churning.


Sits Back Boys
Ultimately this kind of dance floor workout was one of the most durable and easily adapted concepts in all of music.

Go back far enough into the Roaring Twenties and you’d find a similar song – with different instrumental highlights – that had all the flappers dancing The Charleston. In the big band era they’d have switched up the parts for the Lindy Hop and the more uncontrolled the music became led to the Jitterbug. Eventually in the rock era they’d be twisting and frugging and then disco came along and house music led to dances that would make the flappers of the 20’s jealous at the freedom it entailed.

The key to it was always the same though, never letting up on the energy and matching it with the right instruments and rhythm for the era in question.

Bradshaw Boogie finds itself sort of stuck between eras – by choice – which means it’s not perfectly suited for what the kids of 1951 were bound to be doing, but it’s got enough of what they were into that it wouldn’t clear the floor either.

It came along a few years too late to be called transitional – in 1948 this would’ve been the perfect bridge between eras – but if you needed a refresher course on the changes over the past six years or so, this would fill in the blanks and still get you moving at the same time.


(Visit the Artist page of Tiny Bradshaw for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)