James Reese Europe

Too Much Mustard

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Saydisc's Too Much Mustard is the CD reissue of a collection on this that first appeared in 1971 in an excellent series curated by arch-discographer Brian Rust. Arthur Pryor, in addition to being a first-rank trombonist and one of the top brass band leaders of the early twentieth century, was also an important ragtime composer and dedicated interpreter of ragtime music. This disc focuses on eight of Pryor's ragtime recordings, including such treasurable novelties as James I. Lent's The Ragtime Drummer (with Lent performing the solo part) and a 1909 recording of the early Luckey Roberts composition The African 400. Although Archeophone has since issued its survey of Pryor (Echoes from Asbury Park), the Saydisc does not duplicate any of selections on the other disc. What has been duplicated at least three times elsewhere are the "filler" selections on this disc, seven pieces taken from the two dozen or so recordings made for Pathé in 1919 by James Reese Europe's 369th Infantry "Hell Fighters" band. Rust deserves credit for being the first to pay homage to that important recorded legacy, and these transfers were considered state of the art in 1971. While they remain less noisy than most other digitizations of Europe's Pathé's, more recent technology has helped render them with a bit more detail than here, particularly in the Memphis Archives set, which includes them complete. However, some may not need that much Europe, and this sample of the 369th band is fine; the transfers of the Pryor selections are good, though the 1971 master tape seems to have developed some dropouts in Slippery Place Rag.

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