Various Artists

This Is Jazz, Vol. 3

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Rudi Blesh's This Is Jazz radio series of 1947 was finally reissued completely and in chronological order during the late 1990s, half-a-century after its original airing. This particular double-CD has four complete programs. As usual, the music dates better than Blesh's well-meaning talking, and there are some fine moments along the way. The April 5, 1947 broadcast features the Dixielandish septet -- cornetist Muggsy Spanier, clarinetist Albert Nicholas, trombonist George Brunies, pianist Joe Sullivan, guitarist Danny Barker, bassist Pops Foster, and drummer Baby Dodds -- jamming with a variety of standards that were allegedly picked out spontaneously by each of the musicians, including "September in the Rain," "Love Is Just Around the Corner," and "I Used to Love You." Nearly all of the musicians are heard talking to Blesh. The second aircheck has the same group (except without drums and with Art Hodes on piano) sounding a bit erratic; "My Honey's Lovin' Arms" ends rather badly. Better is "There'll Be Some Changes Made," Hodes' feature on "Organ Grinder Blues," and a couple numbers featuring guitarists Brownie and Granville McGhee. The third broadcast has Wild Bill Davison and James P. Johnson replacing Spanier and Hodes, and Dodds returning. Johnson is showcased on "Carolina Shout"; the ensemble rips through "Panama" and "Maple Leaf Rag"; guests Sidney Bechet and Bob Wilber are featured on two numbers. The final aircheck, with Hodes back on piano, is particularly special, for Louis Armstrong is heard throughout, clearly enjoying himself. Wild Bill Davison (most notably on "Dippermouth Blues") does not sound awed by Satch's presence in his two spots; pity they did not trade off. Armstrong, who was in his last days of leading a big band, sounds liberated in this setting, and everyone seems quite inspired. Recommended to trad jazz collectors.