Jazz Crusade, as the name suggests, continues its quest to release music by a roster of memorable practitioners of New Orleans jazz, an important keystone of the genre. With the word "return," this CD implies that the Mouldy Five had gone off somewhere and are now back. And that's exactly the case -- on Reed My Lips, Big Bill Bissonnette brings back the group he once headed in the 1960s. There have been some personnel changes as one might expect: Dick McCarthy (better known as Mouldy Dick) has been replaced by Colin Bray on bass and Dick Griffith's banjo spot is now in the capable hands of Emil Mark. But three of the original members -- clarinetist Sammy Rimington, pianist Bill Sinclair, and Big Bill himself -- are still going strong. Older for sure, but their love of this music continues to resonate in their playing. The play list consists of 18 tracks and, for a refreshing change, has few of the staples of traditional jazz one generally finds on so called "Dixieland" jazz albums. Rather, there are nonconformist tunes like "The Best Things in Life Are Free," "Red Sails in the Sunset," and "Where the River Shannon Flows." English-born Sammy Rimington is the featured player on this reincarnation of the quintet, although all members get plenty of opportunity to spend time in the solo spotlight. Rimington is from the George Lewis school of clarinet rather than from the tradition of Lorenzo Tio, Jr. (who taught and influenced many of the clarinet players in the Crescent City). Thus Rimington has a wide vibrato and frequently employs the glissandos so common to the black clarinet legacy. Big Bill is on drums, putting away his trombone for this session. Emil Mark's banjo keeps time throughout, sustaining the rhythm for each tune and making Colin Bray's bass almost unnecessary. This unique (mainly because of the play list) album of New Orleans jazz makes one glad that the Mouldy Five have returned after almost 40 years. This CD is recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan