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 Playing Advice: 4-String (Jazz, Blues & Other Trad Styles)
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: A hot jazz classic: "Minor Drag" w/Eddie Condon

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 10/29/2018:  16:50:19

When I was about 16, I discovered a treasure trove of records at my local public library.

I'd read somewhere that my heroes the Beatles loved Fats Waller, and lo and behold they had several Fats Waller albums there.

When I heard this tune which included Eddie Condon on the banjo, I thought it was @#$%& FANTASTIC!!!

My opinion has not changed over the years....

(Full disclosure, other than this one amazing recording I am NOT an Eddie Condon fan, and especially NOT a fan of the recordings made under his name in the 50's and 60's.!)

davidcava - Posted - 10/30/2018:  13:54:20

Condon 1952

Whats not to like Will?

davidcava - Posted - 10/30/2018:  13:55:46

Anyone happen to know the where about of his old guitar?

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 10/30/2018:  14:45:27

The usual hackneyed old dixieland; Condon is totally inaudible as usual...

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 10/30/2018:  14:57:05

Seriously, listen to the difference between the 1929 Waller session and the 1952 Condon All Stars...

1) The 1929 Waller recording was an original composition, not a rehashed version of an overplayed 1918 ODJB tune.

2) For Fat's marvellous piano solo, he deliberately turns the beat around AND swings... (that's probably why the band didn't have a bass in it....) This is true virtuoso stuff! Talk to a stride piano player about this technique and you'll probably find out that most would consider it to be impossibly difficult!

3) The riff the horns play near the end... so exciting!

4) Eddie Condon is totally audible at all times, and his aggressive strumming style matches the horns perfectly. In addition, he constantly varies his sound to keep things interesting and fit in with whatever the horns are doing.

5) Personally, I enjoy the lack of drums...

davidcava - Posted - 10/30/2018:  14:59:58

I do agree that the TG is hard to hear......did he have an amp? or was he acoustic?

davidcava - Posted - 10/30/2018:  15:01:23

Fats is a favorite of I hear you, but I love the music Will......and I love what I hear in 1952

Fud - Posted - 10/30/2018:  16:22:21

Amazing. I don't play this style of music, but I know "GOOD" when I hear it. Thanks to both Will and David for posting.


guitarbanjoman - Posted - 10/30/2018:  16:25:34

I don't think Condon's guitar was amplified, at least I've never actually heard it on only of his later recordings. And in that 1952 clip he obviously wasn't using an amp.

There was another whole thread about Condon's guitar, including a picture of Eddie Davis playing it... IIRC, this was a custom made GIbson L-5 with a four string neck tuned plectrum...

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 10/30/2018:  16:29:14

"Fud Livingstone, I presume?"

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 10/30/2018:  16:30:21

SunnylandBob - Posted - 10/30/2018:  18:02:31

There is a story about "Minor Drag" which I share with my jazz students and now with you all - I first read it in Bill Crow's must-have book "Jazz Anecdotes".

Ralph Peer had advanced Fats some $$ for a recording session. Knowing Fats well-earned reputation for not taking such commitments seriously enough, Peer also hired Eddie Condon to assure that Fats would arrive with a well-rehearsed and organized group. Condon introduced himself to Waller and got his verbal agreement to the recording date later in the week. For days, Fats was evasive. Finally the night before the recording session, Eddie met Fats at Connie's Inn to finalize the plans but Fats first invited Condon to share in a drink with him. When they both awoke in Connie's the following morning, it was nearly 10:30...and the recording session was scheduled for noon. They picked up some of the other session musicians in a cab and while en route, Fats hummed and described to his fellow musicians the concept and pattern of two tunes, including the minor blues he had planned. At 11:50, the musicians arrived at the recording hall. After recording the two sides Ralph Peer told Condon, "This is an excellent example of the wisdom of planning and preparation."

As a final note, Victor Records originally released the tunes with the A/B side labels reversed - "Minor Drag" mislabeled as "Harlem Fuss" and vice versa.

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 10/31/2018:  03:03:46

Wow, we have jazz professor among us! Thanks for sharing, Bob!

davidcava - Posted - 10/31/2018:  04:10:43

Great story Bob.

Professor Barta is way Cool. I have a couple of his workshops on vid that I treasure.

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 10/31/2018:  06:24:55

Almost forgot! There are some other recordings of Condon from the early 1930's that are also first rate.

On these sides he (and/or fellow plectrum player Jack Bland) play the "Vega lute" which seems to have been basically a mandolin body with a plectrum banjo neck...

Our resident jazz history professor may be able to tell us exactly who, but some long forgotten jazz critic once called this some of the best rhythm guitar work in recorded jazz history up to that date...

Greenmeat - Posted - 11/01/2018:  07:29:34

Maggie (Phillis and Eddie's second daughter has the Gibson Plectrum now (there were a few other Tenors that Eddie had also). She is trying to put together an Eddie Condon Museum -- without much success as of yet. Eddy Davis

SunnylandBob - Posted - 11/01/2018:  10:31:27

Hey, an old friend brought this up to me - I'm in a YouTube clip playing this tune with a great band a few years back! Check it out -

(Sorry: can't get the link operational from my work computer)

or in YouTube's search, you can type in keywords "minor drag barnhart essex"

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 11/01/2018:  16:00:02

Bob, that is righteous!

Especially because you gave the tune a nice banjo solo which the 1929 recording was just not long enough for...

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 11/01/2018:  16:09:56

Thanks, Eddy Davis, it sounds like you know the family pretty well so please tell them that there are still banjo players out there today who revere their dad's playing...

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