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JAMMIN' IN THE '50s

GEORGE LEWIS

JAZZ CRUSADE JCCD 3054 1999 18 tracks 65 min

Royal Garden Blues, Bugle Boy March, Willie the Weeper, Savoy Blues, Bye & Bye, Running Wild, Climax Rag, The Sheik of Araby, Maryland my Maryland, Golden Leaf Strut, Fidgety Feet, Careless Love, Bill Bailey, High Society, Uptown Bu,ps, Wolverine Blues, Original Blues, Closer Walk/Saints

Of all the classical period jazz clarinet players, George Lewis would have had the biggest influence in Europe, if only because of his visiting and playing with bands there. Listen to most European clarinetist and you will hear the man's style and phrasing being nourished and kept alive.

This CD is from three American radio sessions: Dixieland Clambake; September and October 1950, April 1953; and an Art Ford TV programme, August 1958. All sessions come with the original intros. The sound quality is not always the best, but the balance isn't too bad. Whatever shortcomings I might find in the technology, there is no denying the quality and balance of the bands George Lewis leads. To hear this CD is to begin to understand why people became so excited when George spearheaded the traditional jazz revival in the 1940s. For this reason alone, you need this CD in your collection.

The only thing that grated for me was the condescending tone of the announcers. Perhaps the fact that, just after listening to the CD for the first time, I watched the film, 'Driving Miss Daisy', and had just finished reading a biography of a Southern States family entitled: 'Slaves in the Family', made me sensitive. But then, maybe we need to hear and feel that prejudice, to understand some of the feelings and emotions that lie beneath New Orleans jazz.

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