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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Live at the Barrel, 1952

Delmark DE 246


1. That’s a Plenty
2. Bucket’s Got a Hole In It
3. Bugle Call Rag
4. St James Infirmary
5. Tiger Rag
6. Tishomingo
7. High Society
8. Maple Leaf Rag
9. When the Saints Go Marching In
10. Royal Garden Blues

Dewey Jackson – Trumpet
Frank Chace – Clarinet
Sid Dawson – Trombone
Don Ewell – Piano
Booker T. Washington - Drums

Just as there are "primitives" in the art world (Henri Rousseau being a renowned example), there are primitives in jazz, especially in New Orleans and traditional jazz. The first track of this CD bursts upon your ears like a whirlwind of unbridled sounds – wild trumpet, wailing clarinet, thumping trombone and drums. The band is like a force of nature: sweeping all before it and seemingly unstoppable.

This recording was actually made by the Delmark company’s own Bob Koester at the Barrel club in St Louis – on Delmar Avenue (whence came the name of the Delmark label). Koester made the recording with a borrowed microphone and tape recorder - and the quality is remarkably good in the circumstances, although the enthusiastic audience is occasionally in danger of drowning out the band. Some tracks – like Bugle Call Rag - lose their beginnings and endings.

Dewey Jackson (1900-1966) is not very well known, although he played for pianist Fate Marable (who famously employed Louis Armstrong) and was in the first Cotton Club orchestra in New York. He didn’t stay in New York but returned to St Louis, which he found more exciting. Certainly the music on this disc is compelling. It may lack precision and subtlety but it conjures up the sort of vigour that one associates with the early pioneering days of jazz.

Many tracks are fast and furious, including a riotous Tiger Rag and a High Society in which Frank Chace makes a brave attempt at the classic solo. Chace’s rather strangled clarinet sound is reminiscent of Pee Wee Russell. His solo on That’s a Plenty sounds like a writhing snake. On the same track, Dewey Jackson maintains an impressively long-held note, while Booker T. Washington adds a muscular drum solo. St James Infirmary is delivered with the right sort of doomy atmosphere, with Dewey Jackson lamenting poignantly. His trumpet is authoritative on Tishomingo and he inserts some cheeky quotations (including Love in Bloom and The Old Folks at Home) into the Saints. Here and elsewhere, his growling style reminds me at times of Henry "Red" Allen.

The best-known musician on the album is probably pianist Don Ewell, whose educated playing is featured in Maple Leaf Rag and who makes valuable contributions to several other tracks, as well as providing well-judged accompaniments as part of the two-man rhythm team. With only five musicians, this band packs an incredible punch!

Tony Augarde


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