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Dick Wellstood & Cliff Jackson: Uptown and Lowdown

David Rickert By

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Both Dick Wellstood and Cliff Jackson favor a style of jazz that today is seldom marketable-the pre-war stylings of Fats Waller and James P. Johnson. Occasionally this time of music becomes fashionable again, but frequently while being labeled traditionalists these artists assume the noble task of preserving jazz’s early years at the expense of wide acclaim. For these sessions, recorded at a time when Bird and Miles were the people’s choice, both artists wisely recruit veterans to assist them. Wellstood uses Autry and Sedric from the old Waller band (hence the name “Wallerites”) while Jackson utilizes Powell, Allen and Snowden, who at various times blew with Cab Calloway, Teddy Wilson, and other luminaries. Wellstood favors the style of the early Harlem jump bands, which is featured in the quintet recordings, but things really pick up when he is accompanied solely by Benford is skating through a mix of Waller and Johnson tunes with a few earnest originals. Jackson prefers to dip back even farther in time, using banjo, clarinet, and washboard accompaniment to recreate a style of jazz not heard much since the twenties. How these records compare to the originals is largely a matter of taste, but without the crackle and hiss of the dawn of the recording process the music ultimately is presented well, fitting in comfortably with the real thing.

Track Listing: Yacht Club Swing, Brush Lightly, Blook's Dues, Old Fashioned Love, Mule Walk, Closed Mouth Blues, The Shout, Toddlin' Home, Alligator Crawl, Oh Baby, Watcha Doing To Me, Liza, The Shiek of Araby, I Found a New Baby, Wolverine Blues, Blues in Englewood Cliffs.

Personnel: On #1-3: Dick Wellstood-piano, Herman Autry-trumpet, Gene Sedric-clarinet, tenor sax, Milt Hinton-bass, Zutty Singleton-drums. On #4-11: Dick Wellstood-piano, Tommy Benford-drums. On #12-15: Cliff Jackson-piano, Ed Allen-trumpet, Rudy Powell-clarinet, Elmer Snowden-banjo, Abe Bolar-bass, Floyd Casey-washboard, kazoo.

Title: Uptown and Lowdown | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz


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