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  • You know what? Wingy Manone's best records were instrumental. That doesn't mean he wasn't a great singer. It's more of a commentary on the excellent bands he led, and the apparent ease with which the players interacted. Take for example the OKeh session of October 3, 1934. You've got Wingy the one-armed trumpeter, a New Orleans clarinetist by the name of Sidney Arodin (co-composer of the song "Lazy River"), and trombonist Santo Pecora, who wrote two of the four tunes recorded on that day. Wingy could have sung on any of these numbers -- even "Royal Garden Blues," which does in fact have lyrics. Instead, here is an opportunity to savor the sound of seven men swinging together, listening carefully and measuring out their individual contributions without having to work around a vocal line. Wingy seems to be savoring the experience, too. If Wingy's vocals alter the structural dynamics of the songs, Nappy Lamare's falsetto interjections distract and even detract. Nappy, who impersonates a nagging child during "On the Good Ship Lollipop," tended to come across that way regardless of subject matter. This Shirley Temple hit, by the way, does have redeeming social value when swung by Wingy's septet. But "Lollipop" would have been really outstanding without any vocals. If only they had recorded each song twice, side A as a vocal, backed with an instrumental take on the flip. Then listeners could have had it both ways. Fats Waller did up a few tunes in this manner, and the results were wonderful. Speaking of Waller, the great Wingy/Waller parallel of this package is a pretty love song with the title "I Believe in Miracles." Utilizing the Hammond organ, Fats recorded a sweet version on January 5, 1935. Wingy's more danceable interpretation was waxed on the 8th of March. Both artists seem to have enjoyed every word and in both cases the poetry makes for very pleasant listening. Four tunes, realized on the 8th of April 1935, are very satisfying instrumentals. It is easy to imagine what the effect would have been had Wingy sung the lyrics to these Tin Pan Alley creations. Some would smile at the na‹vely rhyming stanzas, and everyone's ears would perk up when the instruments would take brief solos in the precious time remaining after an entire chorus had been eaten up by words, words, words. Instead, Wingy is heard putting all of his energy into blowing trumpet, Eddie Miller booting around with his tenor sax, and Matty Matlock garnishing the melody with attractive little clarinet runs. Without a doubt, a lot more from the piano of Gil Bowers is featured, simply because no space is taken up by vocals. When Wingy sings on two songs from May 27, 1935, it's nice to hear him again. "Every Little Moment" is charming and "Black Coffee" is a harrowing tale of misbehavior and confusion. Vocally or instrumentally, Wingy was always ready to show the people a good time. ~ arwulf arwulf
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