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"Faz" - 1936-1945 Recordings

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Album Review

Irving Prestopnik was born in New Orleans in 1912 and died there in his sleep during the spring of 1949 at the age of 36 from complications associated with extreme obesity and high blood pressure. Louis Prima, perhaps mildly jealous of the clarinetist's ability to sail through written arrangements, teasingly nicknamed him Irving "Fa-Sol-La" after the fourth, fifth, and sixth degrees of the major scale. This moniker stuck and was eventually modified into "Fazola." Living Era's audio portrait of "Faz" covers nine years out of his brief career. For some reason the producers of this compilation did not include Billie Holiday's September 1936 recording of "A Fine Romance," with its earthy clarinet intro and solo by Fazola. His bluesy, soulful, and frankly Slavic handling of the instrument was quite distinctive. What did make it onto this retrospective adds up to a pleasant and entertaining tour of traditional jazz and swing during the years when this music was a vital component in U.S. pop culture. Fazola is heard on a series of substantial recordings he made with Ben Pollack & His Orchestra and a Pollack-driven septet known as the Rhythm Wreckers in September 1936; with the Seger Ellis Choirs of Brass Orchestra, the Musical Maniacs, and Glenn Miller & His Orchestra in 1937; with Bob Crosby & His Orchestra (and the Bobcats) between October 1938 and April 1940; with Jess Stacy & His Orchestra (septet) in November 1939; and with Muggsy Spanier's band in January 1942. The chronology culminates with seven very traditional jazz performances recorded in New Orleans during October of 1945 by Irving Fazola & His Dixielanders. Highly recommended for anyone who loves or would like to learn to love jazz played in the old-fashioned manner.


Born: 10 December 1912 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s

A great clarinetist, particularly skilled at counterpoint and playing the blues, Irving Fazola began to study C melody sax and clarinet at 13, and performed in New Orleans with Candy Candido, Louis Prima, Sharkey Bonano, and Armand Hug before joining Ben Pollack in 1935. He went north with Pollack's orchestra in 1936. During the late '30s and into the '40s, Fazola returned periodically to New Orleans, while playing with a number of big bands headed up by the likes of Augie Schellang, Gus Arnheim,...
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"Faz" - 1936-1945 Recordings, Irving Fazola
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