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Charlie Teagarden: The Big Horn Of 'Little T' - His 21 Finest 1936-1962



Following on from the pioneering Johnny Windhurst CD (RTR 4316), a ‘Record of the Year’, Retrospective presents more buried jazz treasure with The Big Horn Of Little T. Another rewarding collaboration with trumpeter Digby Fairweather, this one throws the spotlight onto the man Jimmy Dorsey called “The most under-rated trumpeter in the world”: Charlie Teagarden – and this is the first ever CD devoted to his artistry.

It may have been a mixed blessing to be the younger brother of the musician regarded as the greatest jazz trombonist who ever lived, Jack Teagarden, but Charlie earned a reputation as one of the finest trumpeters of the day, equally effective in a big band setting or (as mostly here) in a small combo. Jazz discographies list 232 sessions, but most studio recordings were with big bands. Here we concentrate on the smaller groups, the majority rare live performances, where Charlie’s astonishing gifts were given freer rein. In particular, we include the entire contents of the one, brilliant, album he made as a leader: The Big Horn Of Little T. His warm and beguiling tone, fluently unfaultable phrasing and generous almost florid vibrato are an irresistible confirmation of Jimmy Dorsey’s written tribute.

Charlie Teagarden: The Big Horn Of 'Little T' - His 21 Finest 1936-1962


"The Big Horn of "Little T". His 21 finest 1936-1962. Total playing time 79m 00s.

Charlie Teagarden was born in 1913 and, like his sister Norma and youngest brother Clois Lee 'Cub', was destined to pursue his career in the shadow of illustrious elder brother, Jack. The twenty one tracks on this excellent CD, many taken from rare radio transcriptions and live sessions, set the record straight and reveal Charlie to be an outstanding mjusician of great versatility who truly merits that well-worn epithet 'deserving of wider recognition'.  

The pure, beautifully melodic and Bix-like tones of his trumpet are well to the fore on the first two tracks of his compliation taken from a broadcast by the 'Three Ts' from New York's Hickory House on 11 December, 1936. Away from the weighty formality of their erstwhile employer Paul Whiteman, one can sense the joyus sense of freedom Charlie enjoyed in the small band setting with brother Jack, and Frankie Trumbauer on C-melody saxophone. The two Gershwin numbers, S'Wonderful and Liza, featuring the innovative use of Adel Girard on harp, swing along happily. 

We now fast-forward to 28 April, 1949, by which time Charlie had joined the Jimmy Dorssey Orchestra, following stints leading his own band, working with Jack, serving in the US Ferry Command Service and a brief spell with Harry James. I Can't Get Started, taken from an Armed Services broadcaast from the Meadow Brook Ballroom, New Jersey is a natural showcase for his vocal, with subtle adaptions to the lyrics to refrence both Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, and magnificent trumpet.

Dick Cary's arrangements, Charlie's powerful lead and solo trumpet voice, and the presence of Jimmy Dorsey himself, Cutty Cut-shall on trombone and drummer Ray Bauduc breathe plenty of life into the old war horses Struttin' With Some Barbeque and Jazz Me Blues recorded for Columbia on 1 November, under the moniker of Jimmy Dorsey and his Original Dorseyland Jazz Band. Charlie makes the perfect foil to Claire Hogan's vocal on the irresistibly good-humoured Charley My Boy- it should have been a hit!

Listening to the emotive power of Charlie's trumpet on Basin Street Blues by an amended Dorseylanders' line-up from a US Marine Corps radio transcription thought to have been recorded in December, 1950, it's hard to argue against Jimmy Dorsey's affirmation that (Charlie Teagarden) 'is the most under-rated trumpeter in the world!'

Charlie relishes the space to solo at length and demonstrates his gift for melodi invention with three nicely ccontrasting numbers recorded by his trio  at the Club Hangove, San Francisco on 24 September, 1951. Jess Stacy is at his elegant best on Sugar. Sister Norma takes over the piano for the heart-felt bal- lad Don't Blame Me and remains in place for a fast-paced Just You Just Me, propelled by the dynamic drumming of Ray Bauduc.

The polished swing of Bob Crosby and his All Stars rounds off this section of th CD with Charlie's 'singing' trumpet riding above a superb arrangement of Ostrich Walk, taken from a US Marine Corps transcription from 1952/53.

The remaining ten tracks on the CD find Charlie in an altogether different setting; leading the resident quartet at the Silver Slipper, Las Vegas on 7 March, 1962, for what was to become his one-and-only album as a leader, 'The Big Horn of Little T'. He is as melodic, pure toned, beautifully articulated and expressive as ever, but plays in a swinging 'modern' style, ably assisted by a rhythm section including Carson Smith, whose 'Walking bass' graced the recordings of Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker. It all works to perfection. Standards like Yesterdays, Anything Goes and Tangerine greet the ear with the freshness of a newly minted coin, while Whats New stands comparison with the greatest interpretations of Bob Haggart's classic composition.

With better promotion, 'The Big Horn of Little T' might have launched a new career for CXharlie Teagarden, into the musical territory so successfully explored by Bobby Hackett. It was not to be. He retired from playing and became an official of the Las Vegas Musician's Union, passing away on 10 December, 1984.

As for living in the shadow of his elder brother? I have suspicion that Charlie led a contented life away from the spotlight that shone so brightly on Jack. He brought joy to those with ears to listen and will continue to do so on the strength of his highly recommended CD. Superb sound quality and excellent notes by Digby Fairweather."-Just Jazz