Jack Teagarden

The Complete Roulette Jack Teagarden Sessions

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Jack Teagarden's output for Roulette between 1959-1961 had been out of print for decades until reissued in a lavishly packaged comprehensive box set by Mosaic in early 2003, half of which comes from a single night at the Roundtable. With trumpeter Don Goldie, pianist Don Ewell, clarinetist Henry Cuesta, bassist Stan Puls, and Ronnie Greb or Barrett Deems on drums, the trombonist leads his working sextet, with the added bonus of 25 previously unreleased tracks. Teagarden is in top form throughout every session. His matchless trombone seems effortless in chestnuts such as "That's a Plenty," "Basin Street Blues," and "St. James Infirmary"; he also plays euphonium on a record for the only time in his career during "Ol' Man River." His lyrical solos are matched by his vocals, especially the warm "One Hundred Years from Today" and the spirited "St. Louis Blues." Ewell, who plays consistently at the leader's level and also wrote the arrangements, is featured without the front line in swinging treatments of "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Atlanta Blues." Goldie is frequently an excellent soloist and ensemble player, though he falters by adding distracting codas to his ballad features. Puls and Greb are showcased in an unusual take of "Big Noise from Winnetka," where both musicians whistle in unison, as well as play their instruments, in this mostly visual crowd-pleasing favorite. Only two selections are duds; both the re-creation of Teagarden's classic duet with Louis Armstrong of "Rockin' Chair" and an overdone take of "When the Saints Go Marching In" are marred by Goldie's mimicry of Satchmo's gravelly vocals, which quickly gets tedious. But the beautifully remastered sound of these mostly exceptional performances, the detailed liner notes, and the rare photos make this limited-edition set an essential purchase.