On the 12th of March 1928, eighty years ago, the enlarged 26 men Paul Whiteman Orhestra, his so-called Concert Orchestra, recorded the first and second part of his Metropolis, a suite in four parts that had a total playing time of ca. 17 minutes.The 3rd part was recorded a day later and the fourth part was played on the 17th of March. This lenghtly tune was released on two 30cm 78rpm gramophones for Victor.
Ferde Grofé (1937)
The tune, which got the working title Fantasia in E-flat, was composed by Ferde Grofé and later got its final name Metropolis, named after the succesfull 1926 film Metropolis by Fritz Lang. Mind that Ferde's tune has nothing to do with the film - it only gives you an impression of the sounds and noises of a big city, a Metropolis.
Ferde Grofé was born as Ferdinand Rudolph von Grofé and was born in New York City in March 1892 and his ancestors came from Germany. Both his parents played classical music and when his father passed away he went back to Germany with his mother and got violin and piano lessons. Some years later they returned to New York and when he left school he got a job, after some gigs at bars and bordellos, in the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. In 1915 he played in the band of Art Hickman where he wrote arrangements for dance orchestra. In the late 1910s he became interested in jazz and one of his collegues in the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra Paul Whiteman became fascinated because of Ferde's arrangements. In 1920 when Paul Whiteman needed a new piano player in his band he asked Ferde and so their cooperation started, which lasted to some great recordings of Ferde Grofé compositions, like the Mississippi suite and the Grand Canyon Suite. And of course this Metropolis too. I have some two great contemporary recordings from this great suite. Mind that this Metropolis suite was performed in public only once on the stage at Carnegie Hall in October 1928 and since that time no orchestra ever played this piece complete in public again until January 1989 when the Dutch Willem Breuker Kollektief played it for their BVHaast CD Metropolis (CD 8903). For me it was the first time that I heard it on record and I was impressed by this Experiment in Modern Music, as this piece was subtitled. Both Ferde Grofé as Paul Whiteman wanted to make Modern American Music, that could be compared with the great European classical composers. If you have seen Paul Witeman's film The King of Jazz you can imagine how it sounded. Ten years ago the Beau Hunks, the retro band known for his Laurel & Hardy music played it using the original arrangements and this performance is to be found at their album The Modern American Music of Ferde Grofé. You will find more compositions of Ferde Grofé on this abum like his Broadway at Night (1924), Mississippi Suite (1925) and the Three Shades of Blue (1926). This music is no jazz nor dance music. It's symphonic music, more in the tradition of European classical music then in the jazz, but I like it very much now and then and this week is a great opportunity to play this great Metropolis Suite again.
GETTIN' AND JETTIN'- HANK MOBLEY Quartet: Hank Mobley tenor sax, Wynton Kelly piano, Paul Chambers bass and Philly Joe Jones drums. Recorded for Blue Note on the 5th of December 1961
Nederlands ( To the English translation )
Op 12 maart 1928, tachtig jaar geleden, nam het extra uitgebreide, 26 man bevattende, orkest van Paul Whiteman, zijn Concert Orchestra, het eerste en tweede deel van zijn Metropolis op. Het derde en vierde deel werden een dag later en op 17 maart aan de groeven toevertrouwd. De suite duurde in totaal zo'n 17 minuten en werd door Victor uitgebracht op twee 30cm 78-toerenplaten.Ferde Grofé (1937)
- ham and eggs / you need some lovin' = johnny dunn band
- crowing rooster blues / broken levee blues = lonnie johnson
- metropolis = paul whiteman concert o
- black gypsy = david martin-eddie south
- honeysuckle rose / lillette / make mine millers / oop bop sh' bam / squatty roo / sweet georgia borwn = millers (o.l.v. ab de molenaar )
- i think i know = niels tausk quintet