Ingemar Wågerman: Alton Purnell Discography

new-coverThe Alton Purnell discography is soon ready for printing,but there are many gaps. The book includes more than 1000 colour illustrations, mostly of  covers and labels from records with Alton, including his sessions with Bunk Johnson and George Lewis. More than 300 pages, size 210 x 276 mm. Price Sweden 350 SEK. Europe 450 kr, Overseas 500 SEK. Heavy Postage included. I need binding orders. Send name, postal address and email address to jazzhistoria@gmail.com.

 

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Alton was born April 16, 1911 in the building at 726, St. Peter Street, New Orleans, from 1961 known as Preservation Hall.  “Surprisingly little has been written about Alton Purnell” Les Page wrote in Footnote vol 1 No 4, 1970. There have been articles and reviews related to his life and death, trips and record releases since then, but no comprehensive description. This is an attempt to describe Alton, where, when and with whom Alton played and recorded. Of course it is an impossible task to make a list of all his work from six decades, but I have tried to find as much information as possible. He made extensive tours all over the world, and I just mention the venues I have seen documented in newspapers and magazines or through correspondence and interviews. Regarding Alton’s more detailed biography, his person etc I refer to the trumpet player Bob Allen’s forthcoming thoroughgoing  book, to which I look forward with great expectations. Bob was one of my most important sources when I started this project in 2000. He was one of Alton’s closest friends and accompanied him on his last trip to Europe in 1986. They also played together in Chris Kelly’s Black and White Band. Alton Purnell has influenced many piano players all over the world. One of the most well-known is the late Jon Marks. He intended to write about Alton’s piano playing in Bob Allen’s forthcoming book, but sadly he died in 2007, just after his 60th birthday. I will try to fulfill his work instead, as best I can. Most of the contents is compiled from various sources with many quotes from books, articles and reviews. (I can not verify the correctness of all facts!) The main sources of discographic information are the excellent works Hymn for George by Håkan Håkansson & Lennart Fält and Bunk Johnson – A Discography by Fred Eatherton & Mike Hazeldine, completed with information from www.discogs.com, “the largest music database and marketplace in the world”. The information concerning unreleased recordings is mostly from Jempi de Donder: On Tour – a Disco- and Tapeography of the Recordings Made by New Orleans Musicians with Local Bands. I have followed their information closely, indicating the formats: 78RPM, 45RPM, LP, CD, DVD and MC- My first intention was to show only the original issues of Alton’s records with Bunk and George, but finally I decided to show as many re-issues as possible, including the many low-price box compilations and – very reluctantly – also some of the many downloadable Mp3 albums from Amazon, iTunes, Spotify etc, which have almost completely taken over the music market from the CD. These are issued with fanciful company names, and the sound quality is sometimes poor. Many compilations seem to have been put together at random, especially the downloadable ones. The album covers can also be downloaded, but do not exist “in real life”. The physical illustrations are mostly from my own collection (most of the LPs, CDs etc), but many pictures are scanned from books and magazines, from Internet or other collections, with inevitable lower quality. It has not been possible to find all the copyright holders. There are also lots of gaps – it is of course an impossible task to find illustrations of all covers and labels. The front cover illustration is a drawing by Alicia “Judy” Wood, published in Blue Note, Fall 1983. The “Chronology” section is compiled from many sources, e.g. Björn Bärnheim’s George Lewis Day by Day list. Barry Martyn has supplied a lot of information about Legends of Jazz etc.  It includes the chronologic dates of Alton’s recordings, performances etc, which makes it easy to find a certain event using the “copy & search” method. I am sure that there are many uncertain or incorrect dates and facts. There are also many gaps. I gratefully accept additions, corrections and comments to jazzhistoria@gmail.com. Updates will be published on www.jazzhistoria.se. I’m also aware that there are erroneous translations. I apologize-English is not my native language.

 

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