Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys: New San Antonio Rose
New San Antonio Rose
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
The Essential Bob Willis 1935-1947 (Columbia Legacy CK 48958)
Bob Wills (fiddle),
Jess Ashlock (fiddle), Louis Tierney (fiddle), Herman Arnspiger (guitar), Eldon Shamblin (guitar), Leon McAuliffe (steel guitar), Son Lansford (bass), Tiny Mott (reeds), Zeb McNally (reeds), Wayne Johnson (reeds), Louis Tiernet (reeds), Don Harlan (reeds), Joe Ferguson (reeds), Tubby Lewis (trumpet), Everett Stover (trumpet), Al Stricklin (piano), Tommy Duncan (vocals).
Composed by Bob Wills.
Recorded: Saginaw, Texas, April 16, 1940
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Musical schizophrenia . . . the first four bars sound like a big band record from the Swing Era; then we make a sudden U-Turn into down-home cowboy music. But at the end of the intro we switch back to jazz. Welcome to the crazy world of Western Swing! Yet this record sold a million copies and made Bob Wills into a national star. For a time, Western Swing was a big money-maker . . . and Wills needed a bundle of cash to support a touring band that sometimes boasted as many as 23 members. In truth, he needed to have the equivalent of two bands -- a country unit and a jazz ensemble -- to pull off this strange hybrid. But even jazz cats paid attention. (Bing Crosby quickly released a cover of this song which scored even better on the charts than Wills' version.)
Western swing never really disappeared, but its force as a commercial style was mostly exhausted by the late 1940s. Wills, for his part, had only one top ten hit after 1950. Yet for a short period, jazz and country seemed to have found a fertile meeting ground. One wonders what prodigies might have seen light of day if later jazz players had focused on jazz-country fusion with the same energy that they brought to, say, jazz-rock fusion. We will never know. But at least we still have the Texas Playboys to give us a glimpse of how cool and swingin' cowboys could get.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia
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Tags: cowboy jazz