Freddie Keppard

Freddy Keppard with Doc Cook, Erskine Tate 1923-1928

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Freddie Keppard made a handful of recordings with certain hot Chicago jazz bands during the mid-'20s. Jazz critics and historians seem to enjoy arm wrestling over the question of exactly which sessions actually had Keppard in attendance. In a way the point is moot, and the real reason for listening to these relics is to be able to enjoy a stack of rusty old platters waxed in the wilds of the Windy City. Going by the discography printed on the back cover of this 1988 Jazz Treasury LP, Keppard was only present on six of seven tracks on side one: four with Doc Cook's Dreamland Orchestra and two with Erskine Tate's Vendome Orchestra. As for side two, whether or not Keppard was in on six marvelous sides by Doc Cook & His 14 Doctors of Syncopation, the fact remains that these are fine old jazz records that should be played loudly and repeatedly for maximum enjoyment. Cook's rolling, tuba-driven rendition of Fats Waller's "Alligator Crawl" is exceptionally solid, and drummer Andrew Hilaire belts out the vocal on "Willie the Weeper." The initialed spelling of "S.L.U.E. Foot" refers to the songwriting team of Sanders & Lewis, possibly involving Joe Sanders of the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks fame. The liner notes -- complete with spelling errors -- and home-style cover art are attributed to Sharon Christie. All of these vintage recordings are available on CD, but true Keppard fanatics and old-fashioned jazz heads might want to have the vinyl on hand just in case the digital apparatus goes on the blink.

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