King Oliver

Complete King Oliver Heritage, Vol. 3

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The third of six volumes of King Oliver's work issued by King Jazz, this disc illustrates the virtues and weaknesses of the label's approach -- King Jazz has only included those sides on which King Oliver was a featured soloist, ignoring those recordings on which he was simply the leader or played as part of a section. The result won't necessarily please collectors or completists, but it does constitute a pretty potent listening experience, as though one were mainlining the essential King Oliver's Dixie Syncopators, with generally brilliant cornet solos -- check out "Deep Henderson" and, especially, "Sugar Foot Stomp" -- and superb accompaniments. With a band that included Kid Ory and Barney Bigard, it's difficult to find a reason not listen to this disc lots of times, and appreciate the differences in the alternate takes of "Tack Annie," plus all of the nuances and details in the playing, which is crystal clear in these remasterings. All sound at least 20 years cleaner and sharper than their dates would lead one to expect -- on "Someday Sweetheart," we get a vivid tuba solo by Bert Cobb, as well as Johnny Dodds in a killer clarinet solo, and it all sounds like it was done today, not in 1926, Paul Barbarin's percussion, in particular, seems up close and personal. It's all particularly valuable for capturing in such superb sonic terms much of the best of Oliver's last thoroughly consistent period, before his decline began to set in. Also included are four tracks by Irene Scruggs and Clarence Williams' Washboard Five on which Oliver played a very prominent role, and they slot in perfectly with the official Oliver/Dixie Syncopators sides.