Most of this CD is the complete output by Curtis Mosby & His Dixieland Blue Blowers, one of the top jazz bands active in Los Angeles in the 1920s. Although the soundtrack from its appearance in the 1929 movie Hallelujah is not here, this disc has the first-time release of two numbers from a scratchy 1924 test pressing. Otherwise, the eight selections and four alternate takes from 1927-1929 are full of spirit and strong musicianship, with highlights including "Weary Stomp," "Whoop 'Em Up Blues," "Blue Blower's Blues," "Hardee Stomp," and three versions of "Tiger Stomp."
Bessie Smith, even on the evidence of her earliest recordings, well deserved the title "Empress of the Blues" for in the 1920s there was no one in her league for emotional intensity, honest blues feeling, and power. The second of five volumes (the first four are two-CD sets) finds her accompaniment improving rapidly with such sympathetic sidemen as trombonist Charlie Green, cornetist Joe Smith, and clarinetist Buster Bailey often helping her out. However, they are overshadowed by Louis Armstrong, whose two sessions with Smith (nine songs in all) fall into the time period of this second set; particularly classic are their versions of "St. Louis Blues," "Careless Love Blues," and "I Ain't Goin' to Play Second Fiddle." Other gems on this essential set include "Cake Walkin' Babies From Home," "The Yellow Dog Blues," and "At the Christmas Ball."
In the 1970s, Bessie Smith's recordings were reissued on five double LPs. Her CD reissue series also has five volumes (the first four are double-CD sets) with the main difference being that the final volume includes all of her rare alternate takes (which were bypassed on LP). The first set (which, as with all of the CD volumes, is housed in an oversize box that includes an informative booklet) contains her first 38 recordings. During this early era, Bessie Smith had no competitors on record and she was one of the few vocalists who could overcome the primitive recording techniques; her power really comes through.
A thorough review of trumpeter Stu Pletcher's career, with recordings by the Yale Collegians, Red Norvo, Ben Pollack, Smith Ballew, as well as two privately-recorded piano solos by Pletcher. The detailed liner notes are by Tom Pletcher, Stu's son and a jazz musician in his own right. The 40 page booklet features photographs from the Pletcher family's archives.
Louis Armstrong's tenure as second cornetist to the great King Oliver is one of jazz history's legendary apprenticeships, on par with the one Miles Davis served with Charlie Parker or Stephane Grappelli's with Django Reinhardt. Sadly, only a handful of recordings survive from this formative period in Armstrong's career. This LP features 18 of King Oliver's 1923 recordings with Armstrong, as well as a bonus appendix consisting of seven tracks recorded in 1924 by the Red Onion Jazz Babies under Armstrong's sole leadership (and featuring, on one number, a very young Alberta Hunter). The performances are as red-hot as you'd expect, and include two King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton duets.
In 2002 the Transatlantic Radio label fortified their catalog with a 26-track anthology of historic sides by the Jean Goldkette Orchestra. Victor Recordings 1924-1928 neatly samples some of the group's best works by beginning in March 1924, a good nine months before Bix Beiderbecke first sat in, and ending in December 1928, more than a year after Bix had joined the ranks of Paul Whiteman's Orchestra, along with some of Goldkette's most capable players. During the mid-‘20s the Goldkette band played its best music in front of live audiences, using arrangements by Bill Challis. Studio recordings captured some of the magic in the form of sweet and hot dance music punctuated by period pop vocals. Rather than packing in a lot of alternate takes (which may be found on other equally fine collections), the folks at Transatlantic chose to lay out a sensible selection that accurately embodies what the Goldkette band was all about.
New horizons in historic jazz reissuing were revealed in 2005 when Jazz Oracle came out with a double-CD compendium of recordings made for about a dozen different labels between October 1924 and February 1933 in Vienna, Paris, and Berlin, all involving bandleader Lud Gluskin (1898-1989). Andreas Schmauder, apparently one of the world's leading Gluskin authorities, was asked to paw through literally hundreds of 78 rpm platters to designate the 48 titles included in this package, which is loaded with precious photographs and fascinating information. Gluskin first appears as a drummer with Paul Gason and His Versatile Orchestra. "Ain't She Sweet?" is performed by the Playboys, a Detroit-based band that would soon morph into an expanded and more versatile orchestra under Gluskin's direction.