Here is a particularly tasty portion of old-fashioned Chicago-style jazz, calmly dished out by some of Condon's very best bands. "Jackson Teagarden and his trombone" deliver the nicest portrait of "Diane" ever painted. "Serenade to a Shylock" slowly ambles through Mr. T's vocal and suddenly kicks up into a stomp, sharpened at the edges by Pee Wee Russell's gloriously filthy clarinet. Bud Freeman glides effortlessly into "Sunday" and "California." Bud's relaxing influence bathes the entire band in rosy light even during upbeat finales. On August 11, 1939, Davey Tough actually made it into a recording studio. While George Wettling and Lionel Hampton had each served ably on the preceding tracks, it's invigorating to hear Mr. Tough driving the band the way he did. The same could be said for Joe Sullivan, with all due respect for Jess Stacy and Joe Bushkin. The chemistry on this little Decca date is really magical. "Friar's Point" gets low-down and dirty, a funky collective discourse on the human condition. Back with Commodore Records on November 30, 1939, Condon retained Max Kaminsky, Brad Gowans, and Pee Wee Russell for a real blowing session. While "Jelly Roll" bakes itself brown, during "Strut Miss Lizzie" the band sounds almost possessed. "It's Right Here for You" is just plain gorgeous. These really are among the best records Condon ever produced, and everybody ought to get a chance to hear them on a regular basis. On March 24, 1940, about 17 minutes' worth of "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" was spread over four 12" 78-rpm platters, with 11 musicians taking turns ritualistically hammering out every possible angle of the song. While conventional criticism regards this as a bit too much of a good thing, seasoned jazz heads are surely capable of enjoying dramatically extended solos without undue concern for "normal" parameters. Rules and preconceptions are made to be broken and dispelled. With this precept in mind, the session of November 11, 1940, is particularly tasty. Invading the Commodore studios, popular Victor recording artist Thomas "Fats" Waller cheerfully broke his contract by making records with Condon's band under the pseudonym "Maurice," a name borrowed from one of his sons. This music is exquisite. The combination of Pee Wee and Fats should have occurred much more often than it ever did. Waller and Condon first made records together in 1929 -- in the very same studio, by the way: the wonderful Liederkranz Hall. This, then, was a sort of reunion, bittersweet in retrospect, as Fats died in December of 1943, making this Commodore jam the last time the two men would get to play music together in front of the same microphone.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Jack Teagarden