Various Artists

Blue Note Jazzmen

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A two-CD set from 1998, this reissue features overlapping groups that perform under the leadership of clarinetist Edmond Hall, trumpeter Sidney DeParis and the brilliant stride pianist James P. Johnson; all of the music was formerly put out by Mosaic on an LP box set. Other than the fact that the leader gets featured a little more in his own dates and that tenor saxophonist Ben Webster takes Hall's place in the first James P. Johnson session, the personnel and style are similar from set to set. For a mixture of blues and Dixieland standards, the leaders are joined by trombonist Vic Dickenson, guitarist Jimmy Shirley, Israel Crosby, John Simmons or Al Lucas on bass and Sid Catlett or Al Trappier on drums. Because there are many alternate takes (11 of the 29 selections), more casual listeners may want to shy away from this twofer, but serious collectors of mid-1940s swing/mainstream should consider it essential, since there are a lot of exciting moments to be heard here.

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