Although active for decades as a sideman, trumpeter Emmett Berry apparently never made a record as a leader. In 1994 the Lone Hill Jazz label brought out The New York Recordings as a sort of posthumous tribute album. This music materialized on May 22, 1958, when drummer Bobby Donaldson put together an eight-piece session band for the World Wide record label with Berry front-lining alongside cornetist Rex Stewart, clarinetist Buster Bailey, and trombonist Vic Dickenson. Drawing upon the standard traditional jazz repertoire of blues, Dixieland, and swing tunes, this hot little band also handled four melodies from the Rodgers & Hammerstein Broadway musical Oklahoma! Highlights include Red Richards' piano throughout the session, a campy handling of "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" with Bucky Pizzarelli playing the banjo, and "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," a feature for Vic Dickenson's wonderfully frowsy trombone. This eminently satisfying album also contains some of the very best clarinet improvisations that Buster Bailey ever performed in front of a microphone.
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