James Morrison – The Lark in the Morning/The Wandering Minstrel
October 14, 2007
First, thanks to any and all who happened to catch the set I spun at KXLU last week. Nearly all the tracks I played were newly transferred and cleaned up – with only two exceptions. Over the next several months, I will post many of those tracks. The set contained 78s from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Armenia, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, South Africa, Congo, Sierra Leone, País Vasco, Ireland, France, Andalusia, and Argentina. This was the Irish track I played…
Irish fiddler James Morrison (1893-1947) was truly a master player. Born near the town of Collooney in County Sligo, Ireland, Morrison immigrated to the U.S. in 1915, first settling in Boston, and then in New York City. His first recordings were as early as 1921, and in the ensuing years he recorded for Vocalion, Okeh, and Gennett.
In March of 1926, he paired with pianist Claire Reardon, and recorded his first electrical recordings for Columbia, which is where this track stems from. Both “The Lark in the Morning” and “The Wandering Minstrel” are classic Irish jigs, and Morrison seems to play them effortlessly.
Columbia’s Irish output during the late 20s and early 30s is formidable. Incredible, in fact. So many wonderful musicians recorded for Columbia during that period – John McKenna, Frank Quinn, The Flanagan Brothers…on and on. Interestingly, I don’t believe this track has ever been compiled. However, there are excellent CD reissues with early Irish recordings that I can heartily recommend, namely Yazoo’s two CDs titled Wheels of the World, and Arhoolie’s Frank Quinn CD. For more on James Morrison, here’s a nice website with information on a Morrison festival in Ireland.
Finally, rest in peace, Mike Stewart. I puchased many fine records from him, and his was the first print auction I ever subscribed to, when I was 23 years old.
Issue Number: 33108-F
Matrix Number: 106431 (2-C-3)