“South Rampart Street Parade”
Composed by Ray Bauduc and Bob Haggart; arranged by Bob Haggart.
Recorded by Bob Crosby and His Orchestra for Decca on November 16, 1937 in Los Angeles.
Bob Haggart, bass, directing: Charlie Spivak, first trumpet; John H. “Yank” Lawson and Charles W. “Billy” Butterfield, trumpets; Ward Silloway and Warren Smith, trombones; Joey Kearns, first alto saxophone; Julian “Matty” Matlock,” alto saxophone and clarinet; Eddie Miller, tenor saxophone and clarinet; and Gilbert A. “Gil” Rodin, tenor saxophone; Bob Zurke, piano; Hilton Napoleon “Nappy” Lamare, guitar; Ray Bauduc(*), drums. Bob Crosby, present.
It is sometimes challenging to fix a chronology of events that will provide the historical context for the music that is presented here at swingandbeyond.com. When looking back over eight or more decades of events that have musical and historical significance in the world of swing, I have found that the musicians who actually participated in those events, while usually remembering the general outline of them, rarely remembered the details, and almost never remembered the dates when events took place. For example, the story of Bay Bauduc dictating snippets of music that eventually became “South Rampart Street Parade” to Bob Haggart in a hotel dining room, and, not having any paper to write on, Haggart writing the fragments on a tablecloth (which he then took with him), has long since entered the realm of legend. When did this happen? We know for sure that the Bob Crosby band recorded “South Rampart Street Parade” for Decca on November 16, 1937. We also know that Haggart had developed the tune and arrangement sufficiently for the Crosby band to have broadcast it for the first time on April 18, 1937, from the Congress Hotel in Chicago.(1) So the Bauduc/Haggart “composing” session undoubtedly occurred before that date. That means that the Crosby band spent a minimum of seven months perfecting their performance for what we now know as their classic recording of “South Rampart Street Parade.” (Above right: Ray Bauduc and Bob Haggart – late 1930s.)
Bauduc, a proud son of New Orleans, had personal memories of parades and music in his home town: (South Rampart Street) …”was the main drag in the black section, full of fancy men’s clothing stores, saloons and pawn shops. During Mardi Gras, the carnival bands started marching at the Basin, where the King of the Zulu lands. They’d come strutting up South Rampart, play a fanfare, and swing onto Claibourne.”(2) (Above left: Bauduc at a Camel Caravan rehearsal – 1939.)
“South Rampart Street Parade” was at first titled “Bulls on Parade,” after an old New Orleans fraternal/social organization called The Bulls’ Society Aid and Pleasure Club, members of which Ray Bauduc had seen in his early years marching on the streets of the Crescent City. Probably after observing the blank expressions on the faces of the young audiences who were the fan base of the Bob Crosby band when that title was announced, the tune’s name was soon changed to “South Rampart Street Parade.”
A group of musicians from Bob Crosby’s band perform at the Hickory House in Manhattan in February of 1938, L-R: Ray Bauduc, Yank Lawson, trombonist Warren Smith, clarinetist Matty Matlock, Eddie Miller, Bob Haggart, Bob Zurke, and Nappy Lamare.
Here is the description of the music written by John Chilton, who chronicled the Crosby band in his book Stomp Off, Let’s Go …The Story of Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats and Big Band: “The stark call of the trumpets, with drum accompaniment, announces in New Orleans fashion that things are about to get underway. The opening figure leads into a strongly syncopated melody, over which a liquid-toned clarinet roams free. A marching anthem follows, complete with percussive piano interjections. Then, a long, dramatic bridge passage, with trombones well to the fore, precedes (Eddie) Miller’s eloquent low-register clarinet solo, which is trimmed by the sound of Bauduc’s wood blocks. In the next, loosely arranged section, Yank Lawson’s sparse but scintillating trumpet lead lifts the band in preparation for the ensuing climactic ending. In the finale, the brass-led figure is countered by an ingenious sax phrase, the clarinet swoops and soars before joining the saxophones, then together they create the perfect answer to the brass’s concluding statement.”(3)
Bob Haggart’s kaleidoscopic arrangement on “South Rampart Street Parade” can aptly be described as brilliant. From the fanfare-like introduction to the final cymbal crash, he presents the various musical sequences of the tune in sonically different and often contrasting fashion. The first one we hear is the ensemble presenting the main melody with Matty Matlock’s clarinet swirling overhead for 16 bars. Then there is the stop-time passage, which spots a different blending two choirs of instruments, with one of the two tenor saxophones (Eddie Miller and Gil Rodin) in each choir, which is also 16 bars long.
There follows a brass-led tract (32 bars) carried by first trumpeter Charlie Spivak, with an assist from clarinetist Matlock, enlivened by Ray Bauduc’s clatter created by him playing on the metal rim of his snare drum. The rhythmic counterline is supplied by the two robustly played open trombones (Warren Smith and Ward Silloway). (Above right, L-R: Matty Matlock, Eddie Miller, Ray Bauduc, Gil Rodin and Nappy Lamare.)
The next sequence is announced by a different marching melody that is 16 bars long. This gives way to Eddie Miller, now on clarinet, playing a bubbling jazz solo in the chalumeau, or lowest, register of his instrument. Some commentators have said that drummer Bauduc accompanied Miller’s solo by playing on his Temple blocks. Once again, I hear him creating the crisp clatter that contrasts so well with the low-register clarinet sound by clicking away on the metal rim of his snare drum. The horns are tacit during Miller’s thirty-two bar solo. (At left: Bob Haggart was not only a fine bassist, he was also a gifted arranger.)
Following this is a sequence where trumpeter Yank Lawson plays the lead trumpet part, with pungent asides by clarinetist Matlock and trombonist Warren Smith, over a simmering ensemble and Bauduc’s crisp back-beats.
The finale has the entire ensemble blasting away, with Matlock on clarinet fluttering atop the ensemble, building intensity which is heightened toward the end by all of the saxophonists playing a swirling figure on their clarinets. This was often done onstage by the clarinetists moving their instruments in choreographed circles while they stood up. To say that audiences loved all of this would be an understatement. (At right: trumpeter Yank Lawson – 1938.)
“South Rampart Street Parade”
Composed by Ray Bauduc and Bob Haggart; arranged by Bob Haggart.
Recorded by Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra for Capitol in 1959 in Hollywood.
Glen Gray, directing: Conrad Gozzo, first trumpet; Pete Candoli, Cappy Lewis, Shorty Sherock and Mannie Klein, trumpets; Si Zentner, first trombone; Joe Howard, Milt Bernhart, Murray McEachern and Tommy Pederson, trombones; Arthur “Skeets” Herfurt, first alto saxophone; Arcuiso “Gus” Bivona, clarinet; Irving “Babe” Russin and Plas Johnson, tenor saxophones; Chuck Gentry, baritone saxophone; Ray Sherman, piano; Jack Marshall, guitar; Meyer “Mike” Rubin, bass; Nick Fatool, drums.
The story and the music:
“South Rampart Street Parade” is truly a part of the fabric of American musical culture. It has been covered by many musical ensembles of all sizes, including the Boston Pops. The recording presented here by Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra is particularly lively and well-recorded in hi-fi stereo sound.
When in the late 1980s I asked Bob Haggart about this recording, his reply was this: “I love it! The musicians who made it were all top guys and they played it very well. Also, the record on which that performance was issued and later reissued sold very well. Many nice checks came to me for my composer royalty for that.”
This performance, in addition to being made by master musicians, was made by an ensemble that was larger than the Crosby band that made the original recording. Despite that, the band swings mightily, owing in large measure to the commanding lead trumpet of Conrad Gozzo, and the superb drumming of Nick Fatool. Gus Bivona plays the juicy clarinet solo originated by Eddie Miller, a musician he knew well and worked with frequently in the Los Angeles recording studios. (Above left: Gus Bivona and Mannie Klein have fun at a party in the 1970s.) Shorty Sherock plays the trumpet solo with both power and verve.
Even though Nick Fatool was an acknowledged master of swing drumming with credentials to prove it (associations with Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Claude Thornhill, Jan Savitt, Les Brown and Harry James), his involvement with traditional jazz musicians was also substantial and high-profile. Nick was hired by Eddie Miller in 1943 when he fronted his own band briefly, then they worked together at Capitol Records and elsewhere very often through the later 1940s and through the next 25 years. Indeed, Fatool’s drumming evoked New Orleans so well that other Crosby sidemen, including Matty Matlock, and Bob Crosby himself were always glad to have Nick driving their rhythm. Fatool toured Japan, the Philippines and Okinawa with Crosby in 1964. He was tapped by New Orleans clarinetist Pete Fountain to work with him in New Orleans for a time, and they marched in a Mardi Gras parade in that city together. Finally, Nick Fatool played with the king himself, Louis Armstrong, at a memorable concert at the Hollywood Bowl.(4) (Above right: the masterful drummer Nick Fatool.)
The recordings presented with this post were digitally remastered by Mike Zirpolo.
Notes and links:
(*) For those unfamiliar with the name Bauduc, it is pronounced Ba-duke, with the accent on the second syllable.
(1) I have listened closely to that broadcast recording. It is clear that Haggart’s arrangement and the way the Crosby band played it had been “set” by that time (April 18, 1937). There are very few differences between that performance and the Decca recording which was made seven months later.
(2) The Swing Era; 1937-1938 (1970), notes on the music by Joseph Castner, 61.
(3) Stomp Off, Let’s Go …The Story of Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats and Big Band, by John Chilton (1983), 55.
(4) Information about Nick Fatool’s professional activities comes from Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of Jazz and Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Sixties.
Here is a video of the Bob Crosby band playing a shortened version of “South Rampart Street Parade”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1v3ejPoIVM
Here is more historical information about South Rampart Street in New Orleans: http://archives.nolalibrary.org/~nopl/exhibits/neighborhood/rst.htm
Here are a couple of links that present more music from the Bob Crosby band and sidemen: