George Lewis

George Lewis & His New Orleans Stompers, Vol. 1

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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow

By 1947, Blue Note had switched its focus to bop; the label's final trad recordings were of George Lewis' band. There was always something very charming about the clarinetist's spirited music, and he became one of the most popular New Orleans jazzmen of the 1950s. Lewis' last of three Blue Note studio recordings are reissued in full on this 1998 CD, including three alternates and one master ("Move the Body Over") that were first issued in Mosaic's complete Lewis LP box set. The band features Lewis on clarinet, trumpeter Avery "Kid" Howard, trombonist Jim Robinson, pianist Alton Purnell, banjoist George Guesnon, bassist Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau and drummer Joe Watkins; they were at their best on driving ensembles, and the rhythm section could be quite powerful. The clarinetist is generally in fine form (slipping out of tune in occasional spots, as on "Mahogany Hall Stomp"). Jim Robinson was always quite reliable and, while Kid Howard is a bit erratic, this is one of his better sets. Highlights include "When You Wore a Tulip," "I Can't Escape From You," "Lord, Lord, Lord, You Sure Been Good to Me" and no less than three versions of "Gettysburgh March." Easily recommended to trad collectors.

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