George Lewis

Jazz at the Ohio Union

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Recordings by clarinetist George Lewis' band in the 1950s are maddeningly inconsistent. The same band can perform the same songs during the same week and range from inspired to amateurish. This two-CD set, which documents a complete concert (including announcements) at Ohio State University, should have been much better. Unfortunately, trumpeter Kid Howard was having a very off day, and despite the spirit of the group, too many passages are way out-of-tune for the 1997 release to be recommended. Lewis and trombonist Jim Robinson do their best (as does the rhythm section, which includes pianist Alton Purnell) and the band runs through its usual repertoire of New Orleans favorites, hymns, ragtime and Dixieland standards (plus a brief "Salute to Ohio State" and "Collegiate"), but Howard largely sinks the effort.

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