"Captain" John Handy

Very First Recordings

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Barry Martyn in the liner notes to this 1993 CD says "My feeling is, that had these been the only recordings of Handy, they would have been testament enough to his greatness." That statement is debatable -- although altoist Captain John Handy plays fine on the two sessions -- because the recording quality is shaky and the other musicians are not up to his level. The first 11 selections (only "Hindustan" was previously released) find Handy doing his best with a group that includes very erratic trumpet playing by Jimmy Clayton, the out-of-place electric guitar of George Guesnon, pianist Dave Williams, bassist Sylvester Handy and drummer Alfred Williams. The final three numbers (all formerly unreleased) are better, with Handy (on clarinet and alto) backed by pianist Louis Gallaud, bassist McNeil Breux and drummer Josiah Frazier. Handy would not record again as a leader for another five years, but he would cut several much better dates from 1965-70, particularly the busy 1965-66 period; therefore, this particular CD is mostly of historic value.

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