The Harlem Blues and Jazz Band

From Past to Present: Featuring and Dedicated to Laurel Watson

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

The story about how the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band were created is almost as interesting as the music they produce. They were put together by Albert Vollmer, a very successful dentist and émigré to the U.S. who wanted to do something in return for the success he achieved. He formed this band using as the nucleus musicians who had been on the jazz scene as early as the '20s. Although the personnel naturally has changed since 1973, the purpose remains the same: to bring to the public the good, swinging, unfiltered jazz that most of them cut their eyeteeth on. This album is dedicated to Laurel Watson, who joined the band in 1984, replacing Miss Rhapsody (aka Viola Wells), who had passed away. The cuts on this album were recorded during the period 1982-1987 and include such legends of jazz as Eddie Durham, the legendary but shadowy sax player George James, and Al Casey. They get together with another figure from jazz's past, Roger "Ram" Ramirez, for a rousing, racing "Ram's B Flat Blues." The honoree, Laurel Watson, is the featured vocalist on a live performance of "Up a Lazy River" which features a slow, lingering trumpet solo by Bobby Williams and a patented plunger mute trombone by Eddie Durham. Eddie Chamblee composed "Blues Ballad" on the spot at a live performance in New Jersey, and he steps into the spotlight with his raspy, nasty tenor. This album goes far beyond being an item of historical interest. It is the stuff that jazz was built upon and is as relevant as anything being played, more than most. This group continues to perform regularly in the U.S. and abroad. Highly recommended.

blue highlight denotes track pick