Pee Wee Erwin

Complete Fifties Recordings

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Nebraska native Pee Wee Erwin built up his professional chops gigging with the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks, Joe Haymes, Isham Jones, Benny Goodman, Ray Noble, and Tommy Dorsey. He spent most of the '50s leading the house band at Nick's, a New York nightclub devoted almost exclusively to Dixieland and swing music. In 1955, Erwin cut an album in New York and was recorded live at the Grandview Inn in Columbus, OH in 1956. This little band played manifestly easygoing good-time traditional jazz music. Note the presence of Tony Spargo, famous as the drummer with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Spargo is in fine form throughout and periodically sings into a kazoo with all his might. Some of the material is older than Spargo (Arthur Pryor's "A Whistler and His Dog"), and there are pleasant crossings-over into classical repertoire (Parade of the Wooden Soldiers and a cover of Benny Goodman's schnazzy adaptation of a medley based around the clarinet's pussy cat theme from Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf). It's a pity Pee Wee Erwin never got to lead more bands in front of recording microphones. The evidence reissued here proves that his approach to traditional jazz was well-grounded and never hackneyed, not even when the band sang "Glory, Glory, What's-It-To-Ya" during "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Excellent Dixieland swing for those who aren't too uptight to enjoy 75 minutes of old-fashioned musical entertainment.

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