Various Artists: Period's Jazz Digest (2005)
The catalog of Period Records, which issued jazz and blues albums between 1954 and 1958, has been acquired by Empire Musicwerks, the same company that has begun reissuing the old Everest catalogue. This delightful compilation, which contains some previously unissued tracks, is the company's first Period reissue.
Although Period recorded more modern artists such as Charles Mingus and Al Haig, Period's Jazz Digest focuses entirely on earlier jazz styles, along with two superior blues tracks by Big Bill Broonzy and two folk tunes by Josh White. Included are two marvelous performances by a Jack Teagarden band that included Dick Cary on trumpet and the great Edmond Hall on clarinet, as well as the leader's fluid, expressive trombone and singing. Nearly as good are the four tracks by Pee Wee Russell, whose nearly abstract clarinet sqiggles positively glow on "Pee Wee Blues," although he is eclipsed by his sidemen on the other tracks. These notable sidemen include trumpeter Ruby Braff and tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman, who is in exceptionally fine fettle, swinging and with a touch of bebop in his lines.
Like Russell, the great, neglected trumpeter Charlie Shavers also appears four times, twice accompanying singer Maxine Sullivan, twice more at the helm of a fine sextet paying tribute to former boss John Kirby. These sextet tracks, with original Kirby cohorts Russell Procope, Buster Bailey, and Shavers himself, reunites Kirby's original front line and gently but firmly reminds us how good the Kirby band was. Even today, their intricate arrangements still sound unique. And clarinetist Buster Bailey, another seemingly forgotten figure from pre-bop jazz, serves insouciant notice that he was, indeed, one of the masters.
Then there's Django Reinhardt, with some French musicians, still brilliant and inimitable. And Big Bill Broonzy, singing blues with hard-won conviction, and Josh White, with his spirited folk songs. With the arguable exception of the Django tracks, the remastering here is quite good. Period's Jazz Digest restores some absolutely glorious music to circulation, making it one of the best reissues of the year.
Track Listing: "Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm" - Charlie Shavers; "Danse Norvegienne" - Django Reinhardt; "Pee Wee Blues" - Pee Wee Russell; "Davenport Blues" - Jack Teagarden; "Baby Please Don't Go" - Big Bill Broonzy; "I'm Coming Virginia" - Maxine Sullivan; "Rose Room" - Charlie Shavers; "Nuages" - Django Reinhardt; "That Old Feeling" - Pee Wee Russell; "She's Too Much For Me" - Josh White; "Meet Me Where They Play The Blues" - Jack Teagarden; "It All Depends On You" - Pee Wee Russell; "A Letter To My Baby" - Big Bill Broonzy; "Melodie Au Crepuscule" - Django Reinhardt; "Loch Lomond" - Maxine Sullivan; "Evil Hearted Me" - Josh White; "Oh No!" - Pee Wee Russell.
Personnel: Charlie Shavers, Dick Cary, Ruby Braff: trumpet; Jack Teagarden: trombone, vocals; Vic Dickenson: trombone; Buster Bailey, Pee Wee Russell, Edmond Hall, Hubert Rostaing: clarinet; Russell Procope, Hilton Jefferson: alto saxophone; Bud Freeman: tenor saxophone; Billy Kyle, Nat Pierce, Leonard Feather, Dick Hyman: piano; Sammy Benskin: organ; Django Reinhardt, Carl Kress: guitar; Aaron Bell, Charles Potter, Walter Page: bass; Specs Powell, Karl Kiffe, Ray Bauduc, Louis Barnum: drums; Big Bill Broonzy, Josh White: guitar, vocals; Maxine Sullivan, Beverly White, William White, Sam Gary: vocals.