This classy 26 track compilation by nostalgia label Retrospect will please jazz fans and the sound quality is excellent throughout. Not a household name this clarinet player brings his instrument to life whether performing with his own band or with numerous other top flight musicians. This really is a career review of a tragically sort life but one which is now celebrated thanks to this excellent compilation. For vintage jazz fans the are many familiar bands and compositions. my favourites are The Darktown Strutters' Ball & The Wabash Blues. Running time 77 minutes. More please Retrospective...
The young reedsman Frank Teschemacher made only about three dozen recordings in the late twenties, and died prematurely in 1932, the victim of a car accident. He featured on a variety of dates organised by his Chicago contemporaries, many of which have appeared in other compilations, but as far as I'm aware this is the first CD dedicated to him. One reason for the apparent neglect is that he made only two recordings under his own name, only one of which was released, and that at a later date, and it begins this compilation. He did however feature on a variety of other recordings, some by established bands, others by studio groups, virtually all of which are included in whole or part.
What we have here is his complete output (excluding alternate takes) with the Big Aces, the Cellar Boys, the Chicago Rhythm Kings, Eddie Condon & his Quartet, the Jungle Kings, Wingie Manone, McKenzie & Condon's Chicagoans, Miff Mole, and Elmer Schoebel & his Friars Society Orchestra. In addition, we have one of the two recordings he made with each of the Dorsey Brothers, Ted Lewis, and the Louisiana Rhythm Kings (track 8, shown as the Chicago Rhythm Kings), plus three of the five recordings he made with Charles Pierce & his Orchestra.
Most of these recordings exhibit the hard-driving style of these Chicago jazzmen, which Tesch personified. In his hands the clarinet, which had been used to embellish the polyphonic front line with a lyrical tone, became part of the lead, spurring the music on with angular phrases and often a harsh intonation. These are classic recordings of the second generation of jazz musicians taking jazz in a new direction, a journey that was only frustrated by the onset of the Great Depression. The recordings come from a variety of sources, which were recorded with varying degrees of fidelity, and whoever performed the audio restoration is to be congratulated. There's an excellent liner note by trumpeter Digby Fairweather, and thanks are due also to clarinettist Tim Huskisson whose enthusiasm for Tesch inspired the reissue.
Frank Teschemacher died when he was only 25, killed in a car smash. He seems to have been highly regarded by the other Chicagoans and was considered by them as an original musical thinker. Benny Goodman, a man who knew a fair bit about clarinet technique and was not generally a tolerant judge, had a very high opinion of his abilities. He had an aggressive angular style, apparently influenced by Johnny Dodds, but he wasn't alone in that. Other, possibly lesser, clarinetists such as Don Murray played in a similar style. Pee Wee Russell appears to have been influenced by him and went on to become one of the great ballad stylists with his husky emotional tone. Whether Teschemacher would ever have developed in such a way we do not know, he never had the chance, but it is possible that by the time of his death his best days were behind him. He was one of the great 'might have beens'. This disc, impeccably recorded and produced with informative sleeve notes, contains virtually he ever did. The best known tracks are the four from McKenzie & Condon's Chicagoans with McPartland, Freeman and Sullivan, the first he ever recorded, and classic examples of the finest of white Chicago jazz. Nearly as well known, and nearly as good, are the five tracks by 'The Jungle Kings', a similar band with Muggsy Spanier on cornet. The other tracks are much rarer, but all contain treasures. Teschemacher's own Chicagoans (the only track under his own leadership) has an all reed front line delivering some original Chicago style music, Charles Pierce & His Orchestra has Muggsy and Frank delivering some blistering heat to a smallish band, and then in New York Frank and other Chicagoans add some muscle to some Miff Mole tracks. The two Condon Quartet tracks with Frank as the only horn are vigorous excursions apparently missing for many years. The remaining tracks, even less known, are equally good. There are two tracks with The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra and a contingent from it, two tracks by Wingy Manone, one by Ted Lewis (well, not so good, but it does have solos from Muggsy and Frank!), two lively tracks by a band of largely unknowns led by Elmer Schoebel, and lastly, and astonishingly, two tracks by 'The Cellar Boys' with Wingy, Frank, Bud Freeman, George Wettling, and the Melrose brothers on piano and a most bluesy accordion. We don't know what the future would have held but we must surely be grateful for what we have.