Mezz Mezzrow

King Jazz, Vol. 2

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Along with the double-disc Volume One, this 1997 three-CD set finishes the complete reissuance of Mezz Mezzrow's King Jazz label. The clarinetist loved New Orleans jazz, particularly its ensembles, and championed the style throughout his career, although he was far from a virtuoso himself. The music on his King Jazz label, not previously released in complete chronological order domestically, includes many multiple takes and plenty of similar blues-based material, but is of particular interest due to the consistently brilliant playing of the great soprano Sidney Bechet. The performances on this reissue are, with one exception, taken from the band sessions of Sept. 18, 1946 and Dec. 18-20, 1947. Featured are Mezzrow and Bechet with two different but equally complementary rhythm sections: pianist Wesley "Sox" Wilson, bassist Wellman Braud and drummer Baby Dodds (Coot Grant has vaudeville-type vocals on the majority of those titles) or pianist Sammy Price, bassist Pops Foster and drummer Kaiser Marshall. The one exception is an interesting, if out-of-place version of "Caravan" featuring an unidentified harmonica player in a trio. The two volumes are the perfect way to explore the spirited music of Mezz Mezzrow's King Jazz label and are highly recommended to jazz historians.