Jack Teagarden

Basin Street Blues [Quadromania]

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Basin Street Blues [Quadromania] Review

by arwulf arwulf

Born in Vernon, TX in 1905, trombonist and singer John Weldon "Jack" Teagarden was the most accomplished and ultimately best-known member of a very musical family. His brother Charlie was a fine trumpeter, sister Norma could tear up a piano, and Clois Lee "Cub" Teagarden played drums on some of Jack's Columbia recordings in 1939. Ever since the LP era, Jack Teagarden collections have appeared with reassuring regularity. In celebration of the 2005 centennial of his birth, only a few labels managed to release substantially proportioned tributes. Quadromania's Basin Street Blues compiled 77 titles onto four discs, beginning (as many Teagarden retrospectives do) with "She's a Great, Great Girl," recorded March 14, 1928 on that historic occasion when Teagarden replaced Miff Mole with Roger Wolfe Kahn's orchestra. This is followed by several examples of Mr. T's adventures as a member of Ben Pollack's Park Central Orchestra, with period pop vocals by Belle Mann ("Buy, Buy for Baby"), Gene Austin ("Sentimental Baby"), Smith Ballew ("Louise" and "My Kinda Love"), Scrappy Lambert ("Sweetheart, We Need Each Other"), and Pollack himself ("Futuristic Rhythm"). Teagarden's years with Paul Whiteman are glossed over in favor of highlights from a career that brought him into close collaborative contact with Eddie Condon, Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, and Louis Armstrong. Teagarden is heard leading ensembles of varying size and stylistic bent, including his big band, his HRS Big Eight with Rex Stewart, Ben Webster, and Barney Bigard, and various small-group swing and Dixieland ensembles. The collection closes with nine of the 12 titles that comprised his outstanding Good Time Jazz album Meet Me Where They Play the Blues, which was taped in November 1954. The sheer size of Quadromania's Basin Street Blues places it quantitatively ahead of Membran's 40-track edition of 2005, as well as ASV/Living Era's superb 46-track two-fer Big T: A Hundred Years from Today. For quantity and quality, the best Teagarden set of 2005 (and one of the best ever presented by anybody) is still Proper's 92-track four-disc "Properbox," Big T. That doesn't diminish the importance of Quadromania's Basin Street Blues, which stands as a fine commemorative salute to a great American jazz musician.

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