How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Bunk Johnson, the leader of the New Orleans traditional jazz revivalist movement passed away in 1949. With its leader gone along with many of the big bands and the emergence of bop, traditional jazz was pretty much hanging on by a thread and may have gone off the radar screen of the jazz loving public if it were not for the likes of George Lewis and those who appear with him on this album. This CD is made up of three sessions from the 1950's featuring Lewis with ensembles of various sizes. The first two sessions are from the Treasury Department-sponsored Dixieland Clambake broadcasts and the last from an Art Ford TV program. These performances help to kick off another "Dixieland" revival during the 1960's. Since then, the music hasn't gone very far away.
These Lewis groups are made up of well known, veteran New Orleans players bringing a high level of authenticity to the playing. Sweet Emma Barrett, Percy Humphrey and Big Jim Robinson who were later to become part of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, appear are here. Sweet Emma does a swinging, gutsy vocal on "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey" with Lewis' clarinet noodlin' behind her. Another good vocal comes from the shouter and trumpet player, Coo Coo Talbert, as he goes at it on "Bye & Bye". But it's New Orleans jazz sessions that are the real gems. A rousing "Royal Garden Blues" has Lewis' clarinet wailing away behind trumpet and trombone and the sturdy drumming of Joe Watkins. In contrast, a dirge like "Original Blues" is something one might hear from a marching brass band as it accompanies a recently departed to the grave site. In sum, this is the music as it was played in New Orleans by those players who grew up and lived there and are steeped in a tradition unencumbered by the influence of modern jazz. Big Bill Bissonnette's Jazz Crusade company is to be commended for making these seminal sessions available to the jazz public. Highly recommended. Visit the Jazz Crusade web site at http:/jazzcrusade.com.
Track Listing: Royal Garden Blues; Bugle Boy March; Willie the Weeper; Savoy Blues; Bye & Bye; Runnin' Wild; Climax Rag; The Sheik of Araby; Maryland, My Maryland; Golden Leaf Strut; Fidgety Feet; Careless Love; Bill Bailey; High Society; Uptown Bumps; Wolverine Blues; Original Blues; A Closer Walk with Thee/The Saints Come Marching In
Personnel: George Lewis - Clarinet/Leader; Coo Coo Talbert - Trumpet/Vocals; Percy Humphrey, Punch Miller, Charlie Love, Sharkey Bonano - Trumpet; Big Jim Robinson, Louis Nelson, Clement Tervalon; - Trombone; Alton Purnell - Piano; Lawrence Marrero - Banjo; Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau, Sherwood Mangiapane - Bass; Joe Watkins, Paul Barbarin, Louis Barbarin - Drums; Alphonse Picou, Harry Shields - Clarinet; Peter Bocage - Violin; Sweet Emma Barrett, Armand Hug - Piano/Vocals; Creole George Guenson - Banjo