When Ed Blackwell returned to New Orleans after a brief early stint with Ornette Coleman in Los Angeles, he joined the American Jazz Quintet, which on this CD also includes clarinetist Alvin Batiste, Nat Perrilliat on tenor, pianist Ellis Marsalis, and bassist Otis Deverney. This live concert, performed at a high school in 1958, was previously unissued until 1994 and features these strong players in top early form. Alvin Batiste shows that, although he would be buried in the jazz education field (and would therefore be greatly underrated), he was an excellent hard bop clarinetist early in his career. Nat Perrilliat is a bit of a revelation because he had already absorbed John Coltrane's sheets-of-sound style at this early period and was developing his own sound. Ellis Marsalis and Otis Deverney are fine, while Ed Blackwell (who has several colorful solos) shows that he was already a giant. The group's six originals are generally based on earlier standards, most obviously Batiste's "Fourth Month" (which uses the chords of "I Remember April"). An excellent set.
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