BERL OLSWANGER AND THE OLSWANGER BEAT
Blues and big band lovers are in for a swingin' treat with Big Round Records' new archival recording of BERL OLSWANGER AND THE OLSWANGER BEAT, the label’s third released recording by “Mr. Music of Memphis." Olswanger, whose musical career spanned over a half-century, could easily be called a jack-of-all-trades: a popular bandleader, a prolific composer of swing music, a serial entrepreneur, and a wildly successful teacher bringing the art of music-making to the masses.
Hardly a surprise, then, that the music is as vibrant and upbeat as the man. Showcasing Olswanger's keen awareness for both rhythm and his audience's predilections, this album compiles an avalanche of true-blue foot-tappers, each more riveting than the last. The eleven tunes are by Clarence Williams, Lucy Fletcher, W.C. Handy, Sammy Cahn, and more, including Olswanger himself.
Dishing out the most popular music in Memphis for years wasn't a one-man proposition for Olswanger. He always pointed the finger of fame at the musicians and long-time comrades in the Berl Olswanger Orchestra, featured with him on this album—Art Sutton on trombone, who once had a band of his own and played the South’s most wicked tailgate trombone; Pee Wee Wamble, one of the old Swift Jewel Cowboys, who was an ace at almost any instrument; Tommy Bennett, on electric bass, who played with Olswanger since they were junior high school classmates together; Byron Hudson, who was staff clarinetist at WREC-TV and assistant to Olswanger on arrangements; talented Bobby Ryan, who played drums; and young Jeanie Page, a vocalist who grew up in show business.
Many reasons were given for the popularity of the Berl Olswanger Orchestra with Memphis audiences, but the reason most given over the years was that this was the band with an intoxicating beat. Even out-of-town bands, when performing or passing through Memphis, came to listen. BERL OLSWANGER AND THE OLSWANGER BEAT, originally released in 1964 under Olswanger’s own Rivermont label and now digitized on Big Round Records, was the answer to hundreds of requests from fans who couldn’t get enough of the "Olswanger Beat.”
Release Date: May 28, 2021
Catalog #: BR8969
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Big Round Records is dedicated to presenting world-class musicians doing what they do best: smash the walls of genre and create groundbreaking new sounds while keeping one foot firmly rooted in tradition. Overdriven bassoons, orchestra-backed swing groups, blues-inflected Zydeco, outlandish arrangements of Disney songs, and modern-protest tunes is just a small slice of what you'll hear on our releases, which feature some of today's most forward-thinking and respected artists such as John Hall (Orleans), Steve Gadd, Andy Jaffe, Eddie Gomez, Tony Oxley, Charlie Barnett, Richard Stoltzman, Tony Clef, Mika Yoshida, and many more. Out of the box? With Big Round, there is no box.
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