So strong was Mezz Mezzrow's passion for old-style jazz and blues that in 1945 he created his own record label -- King Jazz -- specializing in these traditions. The four tracks that open this volume of the Chronological Mezzrow series were to be the last of the King Jazz recordings. Joined by Sidney Bechet, Sammy Price, Pops Foster, and Kaiser Marshall, Mezz had once again aligned himself with players whose collective experience harked back to the dawn of recorded jazz. These selections roll at relaxed tempi. "Delta Mood" is a slow meditation, "Funky Butt" walks easy, and even "Blues of the Roaring Twenties" strolls peacefully. The discography reads like a diary in that "I'm Going Away from Here" prefaces the clarinetist's Parisian years, a period of overseas activity that would continue until his death in 1972. Mezz toured Europe in 1948. After scuffling to get by in the U.S. for a couple of years he boomeranged back to Paris, where he began recording for the Vogue label. Eight titles from October of 1951 find Mezz surrounded by Claude Luter's jazz band. While Luter's collaborations with Sidney Bechet sometimes highlight the yawning chasm between Bechet's formidable powers and the merely well-schooled proficiency of the Parisian New Orleans revivalists, the combination of Luter and Mezzrow makes sense to the ear, as if they'd been jamming together for years. "Four or Five Times" comes across like a tribute to Jimmie Noone, with the two clarinets harmonizing as they do again on "Blues As We Like 'Em." "Black and Blue" is served up solemnly and "If I Had You" unfolds sad and slow. "Jingle Bells" is full-throttle jolly Dixieland and the three remaining tracks swing steadily. "Old Fashioned Love" is a particularly grand processional. Two blowing sessions from the middle of November 1951 resulted in eight outstanding performances that rate among the best recordings either Mezzrow or old-time trumpeter Lee Collins ever participated in. Here is a golden opportunity to study the artistry of Collins. Pianist André Persiany sets up a fine "Boogie Parisien" and master drummer Zutty Singleton takes an extended solo on "The Sheik." A thoroughly enjoyable album of 20 marvelous exercises in old-fashioned entertainment.
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