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Earl Hines – Deep Forest

Earl Hines (piano) and His Orchestra, trio and quartet; with Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, the Curley Hammer Orchestra, Louis Armstrong and his All Stars
rec. 1928-55
LE CHANT DU MONDE 2741465 [75:34 + 78:03]




Weather Bird
Blues in thirds
Panther rag
Chimes in blues
A Monday date
Caution blues
A Monday date
I ain't got nobody
I wish I could shimmy like my sister
Glad rag roll
Beau koo Jack
Blue nights
Grand piano blues
Deep forest
Rhythm sundae
Grand terrace shuffle
Piano man
Number 19
Boogie woogie on St Louis Blues
Child of a disordered brain
Tantalizing a cuban
Blues in thirds
Easy rhythm
Up jump the devil
My melancholy baby
On the sunny side of the street
Windy city jive
The earl
Second balcony jump
Stormy Monday blues
Honeysuckle rose
Dark eyes
No good woman blues
Bo legged mama
Spooky boogie
Keyboards kapers
Tea for two
Snappy rhythm
Singin' for my French brothers
Fine and dandy
Deed I do
These foolish things
Honeysuckle rose
Green's corner
The darktown strutter's ball


Naturally we start with Weather Bird. This French twofer series seems to be covering some well-trodden ground in its reissues – every name from Armstrong to Tatum is a big one – and so it would be wrong to claim any discographic breakthroughs here, or indeed any startling advances in restoration technique. But starting with that still stunning duet with Armstrong – an epoch making statement from both men – still makes a wise beginning.

From there we move to the rather less well recorded 1928 solo sides, ones that sealed Hines’s name as a forward thinking, virtuoso "front line" soloist, whose harmonic sense and technical bravado were every bit as well developed as those of his eminent colleagues wielding brass and wood. The small group he led in 1929 had a Jelly Roll-ish ring to the personnel – including cornettist George Mitchell – and indeed amidst the nonchalant brilliance there are nods from Hines to the older man’s rather more statuesque playing. Fortunately we also get the beautiful trio performance of Beau Koo Jack with Omer Simeon and Claude Roberts.

Hines’s Orchestra has always been rather written down. True, the Ellingtonian voicings of Deep Forest are unmistakeable but this was a good if occasionally scattershot band with some excellent soloists. There’s some booting trombone on Grand Terrace Shuffle and by the time of the 1940 band we find Jimmy Mundy writing some of the sophisticated arrangements. The 1942 band had less striking names on board but is also too often downplayed.

Along the way we have one side from Sidney Bechet - Blues in Thirds – and several with violinist Eddie South. I wasn’t so familiar with these. They range from the twee Honeysuckle Rose to the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto quoting Dark Eyes. South was a beautiful player but occasionally wandered off the jazz radar in jazz contexts. In the later 1940s we run up against vogue-ish melodrama and generic R ‘n’ B but fortunately there are some Paris tracks - one with Buck Clayton - to redress the balance and one where Hines joins the Armstrong All Stars.

The introductory notes are rather meagre and the gatefold format doesn’t run to including catalogue and matrix details – though it does give exact recording dates. An enjoyable Hines starter pack, in effect.

Jonathan Woolf

An enjoyable Hines starter pack ... see Full Review


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