There are many intriguing selections on this collection of previously unreleased performances. Lu Watters & the Yerba Buena Jazz Band helped lead the New Orleans revival with their own brand of San Francisco jazz (starting in 1941), using King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band as their role model. This CD has some selections that could be considered prehistory. First, there are two sextet numbers from 1937 without Watters, featuring his future sidemen Turk Murphy (trombone) and Bob Helm (clarinet) jamming a couple Dixieland standards. The next ten numbers are quite interesting, as they are by Lu Watters' Sweets Ballroom Orchestra, a band that made no commercial recordings. These late-'30s numbers by the unknown ten-piece group (including Watters, Bob Scobey, and Helm among the players) find the ensemble sounding a bit like Bob Crosby's Orchestra of the time. Guitarist Clancy Hayes is featured singing "Angel's Ragtime Ball," his earliest recorded vocal. In addition, this CD has five numbers from the early Yerba Buena Jazz Band (all Dixieland standards), a version of "Ace in the Hole" from the wartime Yerba Buena group (with the ill-fated Benny Strickler on trumpet and Hayes contributing a vocal), and three numbers featuring Bunk Johnson sitting in with the band. In general, the recording quality is excellent, making this an important historic (and an enjoyable musical) release.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow