Windy City Jazz is a 22-track collection of well-chosen musical episodes from the life of Eddie Condon, a man whose devotion to old-styled melodies and collectively driven swing helped to galvanize an impressive number of recording dates and club or concert hall jam sessions during a prolonged period of inspired activity that commenced in the 1920s and continued until shortly before his demise in the early ‘70s. Windy City Jazz opens with some of Condon's earliest recordings as a leader, beginning with four hot sides from December 1927 by McKenzie & Condon's Chicagoans, a punchy little unit that included cornetist Jimmy McPartland, clarinetist Frank Teschemacher, and tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman, as well as pianist Joe Sullivan and drummer Gene Krupa. "Makin' Friends" was recorded about nine months later with clarinetist Mezz Mezzrow and singing trombonist Jack Teagarden sitting in under the aegis of Eddie Condon's Footwarmers. "Yes, Suh" dates from 1932 and features trumpeter Henry Red Allen, clarinetist Pee Wee Russell, vocalist Billy Banks, and Condon's all-time favorite pianist, Fats Waller. Tracks seven-ten were waxed in October 1933 and are exceptionally fine examples of swing music played according to Eddie's specifications. On this date, composer Alex Hill was at the piano and trumpeter Max Kaminsky made his first appearance with Condon. "The Eel" is a roller coaster feature for Bud Freeman's sax. With "Beat to the Socks" performed by the Windy City Seven we enter the golden age of authentic traditional jazz recorded under the supervision of Milt Gabler for his Commodore label. Many players already mentioned participated in these sessions, in addition to masters of the idiom like cornetist Bobby Hackett, trombonists George Brunies, and Brad Gowans, pianist Jess Stacy, and drummer George Wettling. This useful and enjoyable collection of old-school, good-time music is recommended along with similar Condon samplers on labels like King Jazz and ASV Living Era. Those who feel the need to dig deeper should seriously consider taking on Condon's complete studio recordings by way of more exacting editions such as the Classics Chronological Series. For a taste of his wit and wisdom as an emcee, try the Town Hall Concerts of the ‘40s as compiled by Jazzology, then latch onto some of his triumphant Columbia albums from the '50s. A thorough and well-rounded comprehension of those later recordings will best be grounded in Condon's early efforts, and Windy City Jazz is a great place to start.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf