Clarence Williams' Blue Five

Louis Armstrong & Sidney Bechet with the Clarence Williams Blue Five

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This out-of-print LP would get a much higher rating except that its contents have been reissued in more complete fashion on CD by the Classics label. There are many timeless performances on this album, because soprano-saxophonist Sidney Bechet is on 12 of the 16 recordings, and Louis Armstrong is featured on all but the first four titles. With trombonist Charles Irvis, pianist Clarence Williams, banjoist Buddy Christian, and occasional vocals by Eva Taylor (and one by Virginia Liston), Bechet and Armstrong had a strong supporting cast. Highlights include "Kansas City Man Blues" and "Wild Cat Blues" (both Bechet features), "Cake Walking Babies from Home" (which has a tremendous Armstrong cornet solo), and Bechet's unique sarrusophone solo on "Mandy Make up Your Mind." This exciting music (which was ahead of its time) is essential in one form or another.