Thursday, June 10, 2010

Trainin' The Fingers

Harry Reser - Trainin' The Fingers ( English) Harry Reser - Vingeroefeningen ( Nederlands)

Reser's Rounders for Edison reissued
Jørgen Larsen

While your regular editor of the keepswinging blog is recovering from yet another hand surgery that prevents him from using his fingers at the computer for a couple of days, I was asked to fill in an entry. And why not post some lines on a subject that might cheer up and add help to a soon recovery of our dear friend?

Banjo virtuoso Harry Reser (1896-1965) was one of the busiest and most prolific bandleaders and session men of the 1920s. His massive recorded output was released under numerous pseudonyms, among them The Six Jumping Jacks and The Cliquot Club Eskimos probably are best known today. However, in 2008 Document Records brought out a cd featuring 18 recordings by Harry Reser and his orchestra on the Edison label.
The eighteen recordings at the disc are recorded between 1925 and 1929 and cover both band performance of light hearted popular tunes of the period and examples of Harry Reser's phenomenally nimble artistry as an instrumentalist in banjo-piano duets like "The Clock and the Banjo," "The Old Town Pump," "Lollypops," "Heebie Jeebies," "Trainin' the Fingers," and "Jade."
The band sides on the disc have sparkling and humorous reading of tunes like "Wait'll It's Moonlight", "Paddlin' Madeline Home", "Hi-Ho The Merrio!", "Fire! (An Alarming Novelty)", "Horses" and "Highways Are Happy Ways"

Like other cd reissues in Document Records' series of recordings from the Edison label there has been maintained a fair sound restoration of the original discs and the leaflet has listed original disc numbers and recording dates, but there is a lack of information on band members, probably not available in the original Edison files. Never mind these details, the music on the disc is a feast for all lovers of the original sound of the roaring twenties and further leaves the opportunity to thrill to the lightning-quick dexterity of the banjo-piano duets

Harry Reser is justly considered one of the greatest virtuosi on the tenor banjo ever, and his compositions for that instrument of novelty ragtime inspired pieces still challenge other devoted followers to keep training the fingers. To end this, here's an example of Howard Alden trying to cope with Reser's gymnastics in the well known "Lollypops"


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