Famous trumpeter Freddie Keppard gets the nod as headliner for New Orleans Giants, Vol. 1, but the worthy, exciting listen would be more accurately described as a collection of tracks by several different New Orleans groups from the '20s. It provides a refreshing look at music from this period and is well worth an encounter. What the featured groups have in common, besides Keppard never saving
his chops in the trumpet line, is inspired, ambitious, and inventive bandleaders and a resulting series of tracks that represent a side of New Orleans jazz history that is unfortunately overlooked too often. Tracks such as the appetizing "Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man" are part of the selection from Cookie's Gingersnaps; the set also features all the recordings done by both Doc Cook & His 14 Doctors of Syncopation and Doc Cook's Dreamland Orchestra, all in all enough ammunition to have fired a volley under Cook's name. The trumpeter turns out to be hardly the only musical name of note in this fine bandleader's groups, so the listener can thrill not only to discovering great unknowns such as pianist Sterling Todd but can bask in the aura of some of the genre's most efficient soloists. The collection shines its brightest stars at the outset with tracks recorded by Erskine Tate's Vendome Orchestra, extravagent music played with great grace by a roster that even includes Louis Armstrong.