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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke


PEE WEE RUSSELL
Take me to the Land of Jazz
Recorded 1927-1946
ASV LIVING ERA CD AJA 5391 [76.26]
Crotchet
 

This is a fabulous compilation of twenty-four tracks featuring that marvellous jazz clarinettist Pee Wee Russell (1906-1969). Also there are a host of other luminaries including Bix Beiderbecke, Bobby Hackett, Coleman Hawkins, Gene Krupa, Eddie Lang, Glenn Miller, Joe Teagarden, Joe Venuti and so on, they are all there on tracks such as the familiar 'Bugle Call Rag' or 'Who's sorry now?', two of this superb disc's highlights. Russell was a natural whose tone, style and fabulous technique were marked by both flexibility and sensitivity in all his playing, cornet player Beiderbecke being both friend and influential colleague. Another was Eddie Condon, with whom Russell played in the 1930s and recorded much (his Windy City Seven sounding here more like seventy in 'Love is just around the corner'). Russell also had his own groups such as the vibrantly energetic Rhythmakers (sadly only one track but a memorable one with 'Dinah'), the Hot Four (one of whose tracks gives this disc its title), and Jazz Ensemble as well as a couple of memorable tracks featuring a zappy trio of Russell, Zutty and James P. (piano, rhythm section with Russell as flamboyant and witty as ever). Watch out for his break (and others including the versatile trombonist George Brunis) in the wildly exciting 'That's a plenty' with Wild Bill Davison and his Commodores, while the languid sounds of 'Peg o' my heart' (with Miff Mole and his Nicksieland Band) provide a total change of mood. There's little else to say about this CD except to listen to it to enjoy one of the greatest clarinet players from the Swing era, and anyway how can you resist a number called 'I ain't gonna give nobody none of my jelly roll'?

Christopher Fifield



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