British trumpeter Kenny Baker (1921-1999) patterned himself after Louis Armstrong and Bunny Berigan, sounding at times like Henry "Red" Allen, Roy Eldridge, Max Kaminsky, Charlie Shavers, or Emmett Berry. That means he swung like mad and often had a nice gritty edge to his playing. In 1998 Hep Records gave the world an outstanding Kenny Baker compilation loaded with 24 selections recorded between November 16, 1941, and January 28, 1946. "Tea for Two" was waxed at the First English Public Jam Session (surely there must have been public jam sessions in England before 1941!) by a band under the leadership of clarinetist Carl Barriteau. "Red Duster Rag" is credited to the Melody Makers Competition Band, and the following five tracks ("King Porter Stomp" through "One O'Clock Jump") are performed by tenor saxophonist Buddy Featherstoneaugh (a participant in the Public Jam on "Tea for Two") and his Radio Rhythm Club Sextet. The vocal on James P. Johnson's "Ain'tcha Got Music?" is by guitarist Vic Lewis. Throughout all of this, Baker sounds uncommonly good. He was a gutsy player who mingled easily with ensembles of every persuasion. His versatility is demonstrated on five slightly more modern tracks with the George Shearing Sextet, three more with Featherstoneaugh, eight marvelous outings by Harry Hayes & His Band, and a smokin' rendition of Baker's own "Bakerloo Non-Stop" with Ted Heath & His Music. This is a steamy shot of really excellent British jazz from the 1940s, and is most certainly one of the best Kenny Baker retrospectives that anybody has ever taken the time to assemble.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: George Chisholm
feat: Ted Heath