Various Artists

The Atlantic New Orleans Jazz Sessions

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In 1962 the Atlantic label, within a four-day period, recorded four albums titled Jazz at Preservation Hall, Volumes 1-4 featuring six different groups of New Orleans jazz veterans. This four-CD Mosaic limited-edition box set from 1998 has all of the music from those sessions, plus two other related albums. Unfortunately, the opening disc starts out very weakly, with the Young Tuxedo Brass Band recorded in 1958. New Orleans marching bands are sometimes notorious for being out of tune, but this one, particularly due to leader John Casimir's consistently wretched E-flat clarinet playing, should not have even been recorded, much less reissued. The Eureka Brass Band, which closes the first disc, is better (almost by default), if a bit erratic. Among its members are trumpeters Percy Humphrey, Kid Sheik Colar and Peter Bocage, clarinetist Willie Humphrey, and the forceful tenor of Emmanuel Paul. The second disc, which has two exciting sessions by drummer Paul Barbarin's bands (in 1955 and 1962) is much better and shows what a good New Orleans jazz group can sound like. The remaining two CDs have sessions by pianist Billie and trumpeter De De Pierce (co-leading a full band for a change, which includes trombonist Louis Nelson and clarinetist George Lewis), a couple of decent sets headed by Lewis, trumpeter Punch Miller showing that he was a bit past his prime in 1962, and five enjoyable numbers from an outfit led by trombonist Jim Robinson. If one skips the first CD altogether (or at least the Young Tuxedo Brass Band tracks), this is a pretty good sampling of the New Orleans jazz scene of the era.