Tom Brown was an early pioneer in New Orleans jazz. Born in New Orleans, he took the first jazz group up to Chicago in 1915; however, his success was soon overshadowed by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and, since his group at the time was not recorded, Brown's early contributions to jazz have been largely forgotten. Fortunately, he did survive into the '50s and recorded an album apiece as a leader for GHB and Southland. Both are reissued on this 1994 CD which adds a previously unreleased version of "Sensation" to make an even 20 selections. While the first album is from May 7, 1955, the exact date of the second one is in question: a discography lists March 3, 1958 and the date of April 4, 1958 is given on the CD. The only problem is that Brown died on March 25, 1958! (Chances are that the second set was actually from 1955.) In any case, Brown sounds fine as a typical tailgate trombonist. The earlier project matches Brown with trumpeter Johnny Wiggs (who is mostly effective although a little erratic), clarinetist Harry Shields, pianist Stanley Mendelson, guitarist Edmond Souchon (who has four so-so vocals), bassist Sherwood Mangiapane, and drummer Eddie Tchantz. While that set is highlighted by "At the Jazz Band Ball," "Fidgety Feet," and the obscure "Gallatin Street Grind," the later session is actually the superior of the two. Brown teams up with the powerful if underrated trumpeter Mike Lala, clarinetist Raymond Burke, pianist Roy Zimmerman, guitarist Joe Caparo, bassist Mangiapane again, and drummer Paul Edwards. On such numbers as "San Sue Strut," "Weary Blues," "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," and "Golden Leaf Strut" (which is really "Milenberg Joys"), the music is swinging, creative within the genre, and joyful. Since this CD has both of Brown's dates as a leader, it certainly qualifies as being the definitive Tom Brown set.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow