Be on the lookout for this massive chronological survey of Chicago jazz from those crucially exciting years, 1926 and 1927. Three discs enable the package to contain much of Johnny Dodds' best early work. After a few representative examples of the clarinetist's accompaniments behind female blues vocalists, the progressive lineup of solid ensembles is dizzying. Dodds collaborated wonderfully with nearly everyone of African ancestry who made hot records in Chicago during this time period. Pianists include Lovie Austin, Jimmy Blythe, Lil Armstrong, Tiny Parham, Luis Russell, Earl Hines, and Jelly Roll Morton. (No lightweights here.) The cornet, enjoying its final vogue before being eclipsed by the flashier trumpet, is represented by Freddie Keppard, King Oliver, George Mitchell, Natty Dominique, and Louis Armstrong. Kid Ory, Eddie Vincent, and Roy Palmer occasionally appear with their trombones, and various reedmen include Darnell Howard, Stump Evans, Junie C. Cobb, and Barney Bigard (playing, in addition to his clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones). Propulsive percussionists, in addition to Warren "Baby" Dodds, are Jasper Taylor, Jimmy Bertrand, and Paul Barbarin. Yet it is the washboard and jug department that provides the greatest joy, particularly the notorious Dixieland Jug Blowers, whose combination of three banjos, two jugs, clarinet, alto sax, and violin resound outrageously. This package would be a worthwhile investment for anyone seeking a visceral understanding of New Orleans jazz the way it was being played in Chicago back in the day.
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