Ever since the introduction of the long-playing phonograph record, the words "best of" have been bandied about so carelessly as to become highly suspect. So many albums of questionable material have been marketed as "best of " that when a truly excellent compilation appears under this heading, it might easily get overlooked. The Best of Jazz label's Eddie Condon anthology, for example, actually does contain many of the best recordings on which Condon played as leader and sideman between 1928 and 1946. Condon was a banjoist, guitarist, bandleader, and most importantly an organizer of traditional jazz jam sessions, concerts, club and recording dates. Condon came up in the New Orleans-inspired jazz scene of the Midwest, operating at first in Chicago then moving in the autumn of 1928 to New York City. Condon's path is aptly mapped by these 22 classic jazz performances, originally issued on 78 rpm records bearing the Parlophone, Okeh, Victor, Commodore and Decca imprints. The first two recordings are endearingly scruffy; generations of traditional jazz lovers have cherished these sides for the combined youthful energies of Condon, Frank Teschemacher, Joe Sullivan and Gene Krupa. Other essential members of the Condon Mob represented on this collection include Jack Teagarden, Mezz Mezzrow, Pee Wee Russell, Bud Freeman, Bobby Hackett, Georg Brunis, Brad Gowans, Max Kaminsky and Dave Tough. Like Benny Goodman, Condon pioneered the breaking of the color bar by performing regularly with racially integrated ensembles. Afro-American jazz masters who appear on this compilation include Henry "Red" Allen, Fats Waller, Charlie Irvis, James P. Johnson and John "Bubbles" Sublette, the featured vocalist on W.C. Handy's "Atlanta Blues," also known as "Make Me One Pallet on Your Floor."
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