As readers know, I love obscure big band albums from the 1950s. For example, back in February 2012 I posted about Marion Evans' Ted McNabb & Co., a hard swinger with beautifully stitched arrangements from 1959. Today, I want to tell you about Bill Hitz's Music for This Swingin' Age, from 1956.
Bill who? Hitz was a clarinetist and alto saxophonist who recorded with Gene Krupa in 1945, Herbie Fields in 1946, Sarah Vaughan in 1950 and Ralph Flanagan in 1951 after moving to the West Coast. His only known leadership date was Music for This Swingin' Age, featuring an all-star West Coast band: Mickey Mangano, Conrad Gozzo, Ray Linn (tp); Milt Bernhart, Dick Nash (tb); Bill Hitz (cl,as); Russ Cheever (as,sop); Buddy Collette (fl,as,ts); Bill Elliott (ts); Chuck Gentry (bar); Gerald Wiggins (p); Curtis Counce (b) and Larry Bunker (d).
Most of the songs on the album were arranged by Lyle "Spud" Murphy [pictured above] using his 12-tone system that also was known as the "Equal Interval System." It was outlined in The System of Horizontal Composition, a hefty arranger's book. Hitz at the time was one of Murphy's pupils, and I suspect Hitz arranged the album's first two tracks: Strike Up the Band and In a Sentimental Mood. What's fascinating about the Murphy charts is that they offer the ear a fresh approach without clouding-up the songs or the swing.
If you're unfamiliar with Murphy, two albums to consider are New Orbits in Sound and Gone with the Woodwinds. You'll find both on New Orbits in Sound (Fresh Sound) here.
I was unable to find out what happened to Hitz after 1956. If a reader shares information about his post '56 career, I'll post it over the weekend.
JazzWax tracks: Here are three tracks from the album. Apologies for the LP's crackles and pops...
A special JazzWax thanks to David Langner.