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Don Rouse

One Saturday afternoon out of the month, the Baltimore Vintage Record Club gets together in the accommodating venue of the First Christian Church, nestled in a beautiful area of Baltimore, near the Jones Falls Parkway, at Lake and Roland Avenues.

   Normally, what transpires at these gatherings follows the same loose pattern each month. Collectors gather in the parking lot around 3 PM and thereafter, to talk music and trade records from their car trunks. Those who are selling records either pay $5 to set up a table (but it’s free the first visit) or join and pay annual dues ($20) for the same privilege (a bargain at any price). At 5pm, the doors close for one hour (go somewhere good for dinner), then reopen at 6pm to buy, sell, or just chew the fat. (It costs nothing just to come in and join the gathering). PRJCers your editor has encountered at these sessions on various occasions include Frank Wiedefeld, Alex Hassan, Dave Sager, and Mark Kotishion.

   Mirabile Dictu, once a year, Frank Wiedefeld provides a treat for members by bringing in the Paramount Jazz Orchestra to play for the club. This last occurred on December 3, and those of us who were lucky enough to be there really heard something. The Paramount turned in a stunning performance of jazz arrangements from the late 20’s and early 30’s. The horn and reed sections had it together in cutting the section work, and the overall affect was as just as exciting as those arrangers originally intended. The repertoire included stomping arrangements by Don Redman/John Nesbitt (McKinney’s Cotton Pickers), Red Nichols/Miff Mole, and a stock arrangement of Too Busy (which some of us associate with the Bob Wills early 30’s recording), among other good stuff.

   Who is the Paramount Orchestra? Well, Frank Wiedefeld dons his banjo hat; John Floyd (whom you may remember from the Royal Blue Orchestra-the Paramount is a worthy successor to the Royal Blue) plays wonderful bass lines and subtle accenting on tuba. Together with drummer George Huttlin, they provide a bass and rhythm underpinning to die for. I asked George the size of his bass drum; 28“ he told me, and no pillows. The whole world should have a 28” bass drum, I responded; it would be a better place. Dick Parks and Frank Mesich more than held down a no problem trumpet section and turned in some hot trumpet work; and Marv Reitz, Sam Jenkins, and Connie Smith turned in some of the nicest reed section work I’ve heard by a contemporary repertory group. Alex Hassan (substituting for Mark Kotishion) received frequent applause for his piano contributions. Dan Reinhardt executed some truly ingratiating trombone solos in the style of the period.

   All this along with free food and refreshments. You missed it? Mark your calendar for next December. -Ed.
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