Various Artists

Early Chicago Jazz, Vol. 1 (1923-25)

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Although none of the music on this set or on Vol. 2 is essential for general collectors, fans of 1920s jazz will enjoy these rarities. The music features Chicago-based bands (even though some of the sessions are from Richmond, IN, and New York) and there is some overlap of the personnel. Featured are complete sessions by the Original Memphis Melody Boys, the Chicago Blues Dance Orchestra, the Midway Dance Orchestra, the Midway Garden Orchestra, the Greenwich Village Orchestra, Al Siegel, and a very rare test pressing from Dudley Mecum's Wolverines. In general, the music (which includes alternate takes) is quite rewarding, even though there are few major (or even particularly recognizable) names in the personnel. Among the more notable players are cornetist Murphy Steinberg, future bandleader/clarinetist/altoist Art Kassel, pianist Elmer Schoebel, Steve Brown (on tuba rather than his usual bass), and the Wolverines' original tenor saxophonist, George Johnson. All but the final two titles were recorded before February 1924, but the results compete well with most recorded music of the early era.

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