SCOTT YANOW REVIEWS OF JCD-1024- JCD-188 AND JCD-341
Date Posted: 2005-06-02
At Town Hall - 1944
The Eddie Condon Town Hall radio broadcasts of 1944-45 contain some of the most exciting trad jazz and dixieland performances of the era. All of the existing music was thought to have been reissued by the Jazzology label on ten double-CDs and a single three-CD set. However this lone CD contains a slightly earlier and previously unknown broadcast from the series, which actually began on Dec. 18, 1943 but was not picked up by the Blue Network until May 20, 1944.
Recorded March 11, 1944, this CD is a must for listeners already addicted to the other Town Hall broadcasts for its format is similar. It is clearly not the entire concert but there are enough great moments to make this a worthy "prequel" to the series.
Eddie Condon, a rhythm guitarist who never soloed, was a master at putting together all-star bands of swing and dixieland players and somehow featuring all of the musicians quite favorably in a short period of time. This particular concert has excellent playing from the likes of cornetist Bobby Hackett, trumpeter Max Kaminsky, trumpeter-singer Hot Lips Page, trombonist Miff Mole, Pee Wee Russell and Edmond Hall on clarinets, and a pair of rhythm sections that alternate Joe Bushkin and Cliff Jackson on pianos, both of whom are showcased with the trio on a pair of numbers. Trumpeter Billy Butterfield is also heard from ("She`s Funny That Way") and other features include "Dear Old Southland" (Miff Mole), "It`s Been So Long" and "China Boy" (both for Edmond Hall), "Uncle Sam Blues" (Hot Lips Page) and "Nobody Knows" (Bobby Hackett"). Among the tunes jammed by larger groups are "Darktown Strutters Ball," "Muskrat Ramble" and "Ja-Da" (on which Hackett takes honors). All of the musicians (including both rhythm sections) get to play on the closing ten-minute "Impromptu Ensemble" which is essentially "Bugle Call Rag."
The results are quite fun and impossible to enjoy. This set is available from www.Jazzology.com.
Butch Thompson`s Big Three
`Tain`t Nobody`s Business
An unusual but logical trio was formed by pianist Butch Thompson, trumpeter Duke Heitger and banjoist-singer Jimmy Mazzy for this project. Thompson, a fine stride pianist who can also play like Jelly Roll Morton, mostly performs classic jazz in his own style. Heitger is a hot trumpeter who hints at Bunny Berigan and the greats of the 1920s and `30s, while Mazzy is a steady rhythm banjoist and a cheerful singer of good-time vocals.
Together, the "Big Three" performs joyous music including infectious versions of such numbers as "I Found A New Baby," "Honeysuckle Rose," "The Charleston" and "Tiger Rag." While mostly playing standards, they are just as successful on a few offbeat pieces including Bing Crosby`s old theme song "Where The Blue Of The Night Meets The Gold Of The Day" and Eubie Blake`s "Love Will Find A Way."
This music does not need much analysis to recommend. It is hot jazz that avoids clichés and, while based in the 1920s, it never sounds dated or overly predictable. It is a joy from start to finish, available from www.jazzology.com.
And this appeared in the April issue:
Lazy Mood For Two
A wonderful tenor-saxophonist who came to fame with Bob Crosby`s orchestra and the Bob Crosby Bobcats in the 1930s, Eddie Miller had a tone influenced by Bud Freeman along with a swinging style all his own. His mellow sound was a contrast to the dominant hard tone of Coleman Hawkins. Other than a short period when he led a big band in the mid-1940s, Miller spent most of his long career as a sideman, uplifting a countless number of sessions and record dates.
Lazy Mood For Two, recorded in Nov. 1978, is a unique project in Miller`s career because it is a set of duets with pianist Lou Stein. Stein, who gained some recognition for his playing in the late 1940s with the boppish Charlie Ventura band, could also play swing and stride when called for. On this date, Miller and Stein consistently inspire each other. They mostly jam on standards such as "Lady Be Good," "Coquette" (heard in two versions) and "I`m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter" and perform a generous sampling of superior ballads that put the focus on Miller`s beautiful tone. Stein also takes "Dizzy Fingers" and his own "Bag Balm Boogie" as piano solos.
The interplay between the two musicians on the other selections makes this a highly recommended set. Lazy Mood For Two was originally released by the `77 label and is finally available for today`s listeners to enjoy. Highly recommended and available from www.jazzology.com.