Captain John Handy (no relation to the other altoist John Handy) was considered quite controversial in New Orleans jazz settings at one time for he had the audacity to play his R&Bish alto in a style of music where the tenor was still not accepted. This CD from the Jazz Crusade label contains the soundtracks from two television appearances dating from 1968 and 1970 that feature Handy in prime form; the films are presumably (and tragically) lost. A forceful improviser who could usually outswing the competition (his drive in the ensembles is remarkable), Handy's playing is easily the highlight of this disc. The first seven selections showcase him in a very spirited septet that includes trumpeter Punch Miller (a little past his prime) and pianist Dick Wellstood. Although Miller does get a little lost on a blues, his singing (really swinging on "Exactly like You") is a joy and he leads the ensembles well. The band really rocks on "Joe Avery's Piece" (a number that Wynton Marsalis occasionally plays), "Capt's Boogie Woogie" and "Exactly like You." The second group is weakened a bit by trumpeter Kid Sheik Cola (whose sincere but out-of-tune whinnying tone is a liability) but the rhythm section (with drummer Sammy Penn adding colorful sounds) really pushes hard in exciting fashion. This is a very enjoyable CD that is easily recommended to fans of freewheeling classic jazz.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow