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Five Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 1073



Vic Dickenson Septet Vol 1
1. Russian Lullaby
2. Jeepers Creepers
Vic Dickenson Septet Vol 2
3. I Cover The Waterfront
4. Sir Charles At Home
5. Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now
Vic Dickenson Septet Vol 3
6. When You And I Were Young, Maggie
7. You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me
8. Everybody Loves My Baby
9. Nice Work If You Can Get It
Vic Dickenson Septet Vol 4
10. Suspension Blues
11. Runnin' Wild
Vic Dickenson Septet Vol 4
1. Old Fashioned Love
Vic Dickenson - Trombone
Ruby Braff - Cornet (tracks I/1-5, 8, II/1)
Shad Collins - Trumpet (vols. 3, 4)
Edmond Hall - Clarinet
Sir Charles Thompson - Piano
Steve Jordan - Guitar
Walter Page - Bass
Les Erskine - Drums (vols. 1, 2)
Jo Jones - Drums (vols. 3, 4)
2. Undecided
3. The Lamp Is Low
Vic Dickenson - Trombone
Buck Clayton - Trumpet
Hal Singer - Tenor sax
Herbie Hall - Clarinet
Al Williams - Piano
Danny Barker - Guitar
Gene Ramey - Bass
Marquis Foster - Drums
Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven
4. I Want A Little Girl
5. Sugar
6. Blues For Yesterday
7. Blues In The South
Louis Armstrong - Trumpet, vocals
Vic Dickenson - Trombone
Barney Bigard - Clarinet
Charlie Beal - Piano (tracks 4, 5)
Leonard Feather - Piano (tracks 6, 7)
Allan Reuss - Guitar
Red Callender - Bass
Zutty Singleton - Drums
Mainstream Jazz
8. Blueprint
Jimmie Crawford - Drums
Milt Hinton - Bass
Kenny Burrell - Guitar
Jimmy Jones - Piano
George Dorsey, Hilton Jefferson - Alto saxes
Prince Robinson - Clarinet, tenor sax
Paul Gonsalves - Tenor sax
Leslie Johnakins - Baritone sax
Eli Robinson, Vic Dickenson, Dickie Wells - Trombones
Jimmy Nottingham, Emmett Berry - Trumpets
9. I Got Nothing But You
10. Bedroom Eyes 
11. Give The Lady What She Wants Most
Oliver Jackson - Drums
Francesco Skeets - Bass
Jimmy Greene - Piano
Jimmy Forrest - Tenor sax
Vic Dickenson - Trombone
Shorty Baker - Trumpet
Scatman Crothers
12. Riff's Blues
13. The Thing
14. Dead Man's Blues
Scatman Crothers - Vocals
Riff Charles - Piano
Vic Dickenson - Trombone
With unknown guitar, bass and drums


The Avid label has done it again. When I recently reviewed one of their compilations of tracks by Mel Powell, I wrote "This album is likely to be my reissue of the year, as I can't see anything else surpassing it". Well, here's another Avid double album which matches and perhaps surpasses that Mel Powell compilation. The mainstream sessions organised by Stanley Dance in the 1950s reminded listeners that the virtues of old-fashioned swing had not disappeared when bebop arrived. There were still jazz musicians who played in a style which Stanley Dance christened "mainstream", and there were some new kids on the block (such as Ruby Braff) who espoused this style of music.

Vic Dickenson became the nominal leader of several Vanguard LPs which convincingly established mainstream jazz. Like several other players on these sessions, Dickenson had a unique sound, with a buzzing tone and ironical delivery. Ruby Braff was equally distinctive, as were clarinettist Edmond Hall and pianist Sir Charles Thompson. They were backed by a rhythm section which chugged along happily without unnecessary flourishes.

Russian Lullaby opens with the gloriously rich tone of Ed Hall's clarinet and it also includes a long solo from pianist Sir Charles Thompson, whose economical, allusive style might remind you of Count Basie. The resonant recording adds to the atmosphere. Perhaps the greatest revelation of these recordings was Ruby Braff, who won immediate recognition for his beautiful and individual lyricism and clarity.

The musicians' individuality didn't mean that they couldn't blend together harmoniously. Jeepers Creepers starts with a splendid collective theme statement from the front line, and there are several occasions where the participants supply subtle backings for a soloist. The LPs were full of highlights but my favourite tracks include the aforementioned Russian Lullaby and Keepin' Out of Mischief Now (the latter with gorgeous solos from Ruby Braff and Edmond Hall).

The tracks where Shad Collins replaces Ruby Braff are marginally less brilliant, as Collins is a less secure soloist than Braff. But the arrival of Jo Jones on drums peps up proceedings with more playing on the hi-hat and ride cymbal.

The classic sessions which occupy the first CD and the first track of the second CD are filled out with a rather strange mixture of recordings which include Vic Dickenson. Tracks 2 and 3 of the second CD come from a 1958 album which was mainly occupied by Joe Thomas's group. Tracks 4 to 7 are taken from singles by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven, recorded in 1946. Most of the attention focuses on Louis' trumpet and vocals, although Vic Dickenson and Barney Bigard get to play occasional solos, and Vic provides some effective obbligato behind Armstrong's vocal in Blues for Yesterday.

Blueprint is a 16-minute track from a big band led by arranger Andy Gibson. It is good to hear Paul Gonsalves' swirling tenor sax soloing on this track. The remainder of the Mainstream Jazz album (recorded in 1959) uses a sextet, for which trumpeter Shorty Baker wrote the tunes and the arrangements, as well as soloing memorably. Vic Dickenson and Jimmy Forrest are in fine form.

The last three tracks come from singles featuring bluesy vocalist Scatman Crothers with "Riff Charles and Friends", a group which includes Vic Dickenson supplying stolid support.

This double album is worth buying for the first dozen tracks alone, although the extra material embraces some interesting recordings. My only criticism concerrns the sleeve-notes. Avid's sleeve-notes are usually in very small print, crammed into insufficient space, but some of the notes for this album are virtually incomprehensible. I have done my best to work out the personnel but the jumble makes it very difficult.

Tony Augarde

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