“(How I’ll Miss You) When Summer is Gone”
Composed by Hal Kemp; arranged by Billy Maxted.
Recorded by Billy Maxted and His Manhattan Jazz Band for Liberty in 1967.
Billy Maxted, piano, directing: Bob Yance and Dave Culp, trumpets; Richy Nelson, trombone; Joe Barafuldi, clarinet; Ron Nespo, bass; John “The Baron” Von Ohlen, drums.
The story and the music: As visitors to swingandbeyond.com know, we frequently post a vintage performance of a tune from the swing era, and then contrast it with a recording made later. In this post, we are reversing that process. First we will hear Billy Maxted’s marvelously swinging performance of a tune composed and recorded in the late 1920s by bandleader Hal Kemp. Then we will go back to the original Kemp recording.
A brief summary of Billy Maxted’s career can be found in the post that explores Charlie Barnet’s humorously swinging recording of “Pompton Turnpike,” arranged by Billy May. A link to that post is at the bottom of this post.
Billy Maxted, at left, leads his band on a recording session made shortly before the one that produced “(How I’ll Miss You) When Summer is Gone.” L-R: Joe Barafuldi, Conrad “Connie” Jones, Bill Prince, unknown, and Richy Nelson.
Through the 1950s and 1960s, Billy Maxted maintained an excellent small band that was noted for top-notch musicianship, tasty jazz solos, and Maxted’s always interesting arrangements. This performance contains all of those things. The swinging engine that drives everything here is the drumming of 26 year-old John Von Ohlen. (See note below.) His playing throughout this performance is at once colorful, aggressive, swinging and supportive. (Von Ohlen is shown at right in the late 1960s.) The fluid clarinet solo is by Joe Barafuldi. The brash, swaggering trombone solo and ensemble parts are by Richy Nelson, whose playing reminds me very much of the the Philadelphia school of jazz trombonists, that included swashbuckling players like Al Leopold, Bill Harris and Harry DeVito. Maestro Maxted keeps everyone else on their toes with his swinging piano playing and beautifully paced arrangement.
When you listen to the Hal Kemp original recording of this tune, you will immediately understand Billy Maxted’s great talent as an arranger who essentially reinvented the tune, and as an inspired bandleader who facilitates a taut, swinging performance of it by his band. Particularly felicitous is how Maxted captured Kemp’s introduction. From that point on, it is straight ahead swing.
“(How I’ll Miss You) When Summer is Gone”
Composed and arranged by Hal Kemp.
Recorded by Hal Kemp and His Orchestra for Okeh on November 6, 1929 in New York.
Approximate personnel: Hal Kemp, clarinet and alto saxophone, directing: Bob Mayhew or Holly Humphries, first trumpet; Milton “Mickey” Bloom, trumpet; Wendell “Gus” Mayhew, trombone; Joe Gillespie, clarinet and alto saxophone; Ben Williams, clarinet, alto and baritone saxophones: Horace Kirby “Saxie” Dowell, clarinet and tenor saxophone,: John Scott Trotter, piano; Pinky Kintzel, banjo; J. Paul Weston(*), tuba; Edgar Clyde “Skinnay” Ennis, drums. (*) J. Paul Weston was not the same person as Paul Weston (real name Wetstein), the arranger who worked for Tommy Dorsey in the later 1930s.
Thanks to warholsoup100 for posting this on YouTube.
The story continues: Today, if Hal Kemp is remembered at all, it is by aficionados of the music of the big band era, who know him only as the leader of a stylized band that specialized in sometimes pallid, commercially acceptable musical fare. He was very successful in doing this from the mid-1930s as one of MCA’s most successful road and radio bands, until his untimely death in late 1940, at the age of thirty-six, from injuries he received in an automobile collision while traveling to an engagement. Consequently, one does not think of jazz and Hal Kemp together. (At left – Hal Kemp in the mid-1930s when he briefly wore a moustache.) Recordings of the Kemp band from the late 1920s into the early 1930s suggest a slightly different and more musically interesting reality, however.
The Kemp band was a musically solid group that always had very good musicians, and many fine arrangements. (Their 1933 recording of Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” is one of the earliest by a dance band.) From time to time, Kemp also presented a bit of authentic jazz, provided most notably by trumpeter Bunny Berigan in 1930 and into 1931. Nevertheless, as jazz became a more prominent feature of dance bands as the 1930s progressed, Kemp focused his band’s musical orientation more on stylized dance music. He found this to be a very rewarding choice because dancers and radio audiences liked the music presented by the Kemp band.
This recording of Kemp’s closing theme song, “(How I’ll Miss You) When Summer is Gone” reflects the period when it was recorded, the very end of the 1920s. The band, which at that time was just beginning to become commercially successful, projected a preppy, collegiate identity. This song, which is about summer romance, fits into that concept quite well.
The Billy Maxted recording presented with this post was digitally remastered by Mike Zirpolo.
I received assistance with the Hal Kemp discographical information from musician, conductor, bandleader and historian Joseph N. Rubin. There is very little such information that is readily accessible for scholars and fans. I am most grateful to Joseph for his guidance.
Notes and links:
Here is a link to another post at swingandbeyond.com with information about the career and music of Billy Maxted:
Here is a link to a deep dive into Hal Kemp’s life and career. The presenter, David N. Lewis, did a very good job of outlining the important facts about Hal Kemp. I was particularly fascinated by Kemp’s meeting with Maurice Ravel when he was in France with his band (which then included Bunny Berigan) in 1930, and the Kemp recording in 1933 of his version of Ravel’s “Bolero,” as arranged by John Scott Trotter. Ravel was fascinated by jazz. When he was in the United States in 1928, he heard Paul Whiteman’s orchestra. On a couple of tunes, Whiteman allowed Bix Beiderbecke to play some jazz. Ravel was very favorably impressed by Bix’s improvisations. If Ravel heard the Kemp band when they were in France in 1930, he could not have helped hearing Bunny Berigan play jazz.
I will take issue with one statement made by Mr. Lewis, that Bunny Berigan’s alleged “irresponsibility” was why he left the Kemp band. That is not consistent with the historical record. The actual reason why Berigan left the Kemp band in early 1931, after working out his two-week notice, was to join the staff of musicians at the CBS radio network in New York. That was a huge step forward for Berigan’s career.
Here is a link to one of the recordings Bunny Berigan was featured on while he was a member of the Hal Kemp band:
John “The Baron” Von Ohlen (1941-2018), in addition to being a great drummer who worked with Billy Maxted, Woody Herman and Stan Kenton, was the driving force behind the Blue Wisp Big Band in Cincinnati for many years, and something of a celebrity there. Here is a link that shows Von Ohlen and that band in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5XGFr-Y9RU&feature=emb_rel_end