Cozy Cole


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1944 Review

by arwulf arwulf

Check this out -- probably the best overall Cozy Cole collection, and possibly one of the top picks for mid-'40s small-group swing. There are distinct reasons for such a strongly stated claim. They are, specifically: Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Budd Johnson, and Don Byas. Got that? Three additional reasons are Teddy Wilson, Johnny Guarnieri, and Earl Hines. This is no offhand list of incidental participants, but a pantheon of indispensable figures in mid-20th century jazz. Their combined experience and influence add up to direct involvement with the heart and soul of this music, from Armstrong and Ellington to Bird and Diz. Glance at the rest of the collective personnel and you're confronted with a stunning lineup containing some of the most accomplished jazz musicians on the scene during the year 1944. The Cozy Cole All Stars session recorded for Keynote on the 22nd of February still stands near the apex of that label's best achievements, especially because of the electromagnetic field created by putting Hawkins and Hines into the same room at the same time. These Keynotes sound better than ever presented, with 17 vivid sides issued on the Savoy label, which like Commodore and Keynote granted the musicians absolute artistic control. This is precisely why the music holds up so well regardless of the passage of time. Johnny Guarnieri is particularly well represented, as is Teddy Wilson, who sparkles during the Buck Ram All Stars session. There are a couple of percussion feature numbers where attention is deliberately focused upon Cole, but generally speaking every selection is defined, supported, and shaken to its roots by the energetic presence of this indefatigable drummer.

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