Selected tracks by Willie ‘The Lion’ McIntyre 1946-85
Ampersand Recordings Melbourne, 1946/1948
1 Carver Club Special (Willie McIntyre) 2:27
Willie McIntyre piano. July 1946
2 Blue Blood Blues (Jelly Roll Morton) 2:49
3 Original Jelly Roll Blues (Jelly Roll Morton) 3:01
Willie McIntyre piano. 14 December 1948
McIntyre/Hounslow Duo, Melbourne 1948
4 Harmonius Blues (Willie McIntyre/Keith Hounslow) 1:31
Willie McIntyre harmonium, Keith Hounslow trumpet. 1948
The Memphis Session, Adelaide, May-June 1949
5 Winin’ Boy Blues (Jelly Roll Morton) 2:58
Willie McIntyre piano/vocal, Bruce Gray clarinet, Johnny Malpas guitar, Brian Wright drums.
The Tijou Session, Melbourne, possibly 1949
6 Blues in C Sharp Minor (Willie McIntyre) 1:19
7 Eve Dennis Boogie (Willie McIntyre) 1:55
Willie McIntyre piano.
8 Sugar (George Meyer/Joe Young) 2:03
9 Jelly Jelly (Earl Hines/Billy Eckstine) 2:47
10 Your Feet’s Too Big (Fred Fisher/Ada Benson) 2:00
11 I’ve Got What It Takes (Clarence Williams/Hezekiah Jenkins) 2:23
Willie McIntyre piano/vocal (8-11).
Australian Jazz Convention, Melbourne, 26-30 December 1949
12 Gin Mill Blues (Joe Sullivan) 2:04
13 Yancey’s Boogie (Willie McIntyre) 2:26
Willie McIntyre piano.
14 Blues in Thirds (Earl Hines) 2:28
George Tack Quintet. George Tack clarinet, Tony Newstead trumpet, Willie McIntyre piano, Keith Cox bass, Don Reid drums.
15 I Can’t Get Started (Vernon Duke) 2:42
Tony Newstead’s South Side Gang. Tony Newstead trumpet, George Tack clarinet, Ken Ingram trombone, Willie McIntyre piano, Ray Simpson guitar, Keith Cox bass, Don Reid drums.
Australian Jazz Convention, Sydney, December 1962
16 Raggedy But Right (Isaac Robinson) 2:44
17 Shim Sham Shimmy (Clarence Williams/Andy Razaf) 2:24
Portsea Trio. George Tack clarinet, Willie McIntyre piano (vocal 16), Bill Miller washboard.
18 Doin’ the New Lowdown (Jimmy McHugh/Dorothy Fields) 4:49
Add Tony Newstead trumpet, George Woods guitar, John Bartlett bass.
Mildura Jazz Jamboree, 13 October 1985
19 Mamie’s Blues (Jelly Roll Morton) 3:58
20 If You’re a Viper (Leroy ‘Stuff’ Smith) 4:13
Willie McIntyre and Friends. Willie McIntyre piano/vocal, Viv Carter drums, James Clark bass.
21 Oh, Lady Be Good (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 7:02
Add Graham Eames trumpet, Paul Furniss alto sax, Andrew Firth clarinet.
CD Liner Notes
Stride and boogie pianist/singer Willie ‘The Lion’ McIntyre was an important figure in the development of jazz in Australia in the 1940s and 1950s but only a handful of his recorded tracks are available today. This chronological collection provides a glimpse of his playing and singing from 1946, when he had just returned to Melbourne from WWII service in a medical unit in New Britain, to 1985, just two years before his death.
Many of the early tracks on this CD were recorded at a time when professional recording equipment was not readily available. Much of the material also comes from fragile acetate discs which have deteriorated over time. Although Ken Simpson-Bull has applied careful restoration techniques, the sound quality of several tracks is less than desirable but these have been included because of their rarity. Apart from tracks 4 and 5 none of this material has been released on CD before.
The first three tracks come from Bill Miller’s Ampersand label, one of the first dedicated to recording Australian jazz. They reveal two of Willie’s influences: Jimmy Yancey and Jelly Roll Morton. ‘Carver Club Special’, with the first four bars missing, refers to Willie’s appearances at the Dr Carver Club in Brisbane in 1944. The club was restricted to African American servicemen, who were banned from large areas of the city.
‘Harmonius Blues’ comes from an informal session with trumpeter Keith Hounslow in 1948 and is one of only two recordings of Willie playing harmonium or portable organ, even though he used this instrument on many occasions. Hounslow edited the track down and included it in his six-CD set 50 Years of Playing Jazz in Australia. Willie was a frequent visitor to Adelaide and ‘Winin’ Boy Blues’ was recorded for Bill Holyoak’s Memphis label with three of the city’s top jazz musicians.
The next six tracks come from a private session recorded by Ray Tijou, possibly in 1949. Also present was Canadian Eve Dennis, who helped organise Rex Stewart’s visit to Australia that year. ‘Blues in C# Minor’ shows Willie’s use of a Cuban bass line used by both Jelly Roll Morton and Jimmy Yancey and allows him to display his ‘Spanish tinge’. Dennis gives her name to an up tempo boogie piece and the following tracks feature Willie on vocals. ‘Your Feet’s Too Big’ is commonly associated with Fats Waller, another of Willie’s major influences.
The fourth Australian Jazz Convention in 1949 was a highpoint in the development of traditional jazz in Australia and Willie plays solo piano on a boogie dedicated to Jimmy Yancey and on Joe Sullivan’s ‘Gin Mill Blues’, which is introduced by a hoarse compere, clarinettist George Tack. He joins a quintet led by Tack on ‘Blues in Thirds’, while ‘I Can’t Get Started’ shows the cohesive playing of Tony Newstead’s South Side Gang.
After several years with the Chicago-style Newstead band, Willie and Tack formed the Portsea Trio with Bill Miller on washboard and tracks 16-18 show it at work at the 1962 Convention in Sydney. Willie’s vocal on ‘Raggedy But Right’ is under-recorded but gives some flavour of his shouting style. Newstead, George Woods and John Bartlett join the trio for ‘Doin’ the New Lowdown’.
The 1985 Mildura Jazz Jamboree gave Willie the chance to revisit two of his favourite tracks with a trio. He then displays the mainstream side of his playing with a pickup group that sounds as though it has been playing together for years. Willie kicks off proceedings on ‘Oh, Lady Be Good’ with a Count Basie-influenced chorus, followed by fine solos all round.
Thanks to Ken Simpson-Bull for his work in restoring and mastering the tracks; Bill Armstrong, the recording engineer on the 1949 Australian Jazz Convention, who provided tracks 12-15; and Ian Horbury for tracks 19-21. Thanks to Mel Blachford and the staff at the Australian Jazz Museum, who provided the other tracks. Thanks also to Roger Beilby, Nigel Buesst, Graeme Bull, James Clark, Ross Clarke, Graham Eames, Mal Eustice, Andrew Firth, Paul Furniss, Bill Haesler, Dick Hughes, Keith Hounslow, Bruce Johnson, Jack Mitchell, Geoff Page and Jess Vincent.
Willie’s earliest recordings are probably two tracks with Ade Monsbourgh and George Tack for The Jelly Roll Label Sessions 1943-1945 on VJAZZ 003, and he appears on a number of tracks on Almost Ampersand VJAZZ 023 and The Best of Ampersand VJAZZ 028. These are available from the Australian Jazz Museum, ajm.org.au, as is my biography of Willie, The Lion Roars: The Musical Life of Willie ‘The Lion’ McIntyre.
Cover photo: Willie McIntyre at Walkerville Town Hall, probably mid-1950s. Photo by R. T. Pederick.
1 May 2018