Wednesday, November 24, 2010

American Jazz Quintet's Modern New Orleans Jazz Sounds

The reactivated AFO label has licensed some recordings to ACE Records in Europe, including three collections of Gumbo Stew and an album, The Classic Ellis Marsalis, and a reissue of a rare modern jazz album The Monkey Puzzle, with legendary drummer James Black. It has also issued in this country some vintage and new albums, including the highly regarded American Jazz Quartet that included Marsalis, clarinet player Alvin Batitse, tenor saxophonist Harold R. Battiste, Jr., bassist Richard Payne and drummer Eddie Blackwell.

Harold Battiste, the moving force behind the reactivation of AFO (a pioneering musicians cooperative label), has rescued 1958 concert performances, Boogie Live … 1958, by a slightly different version of the American Jazz Quintet (AJQ-2) in part as a tribute to the late Eddie Blackwell who was known to Battiste and friends as Boogie. This was a group that simply is not known to most jazz listeners because they were in New Orleans, and not New York.

The album, with saxophonist Nat Perilliat replacing Battiste, opens with a lengthy treatment of Battiste’s tribute to trumpeter Clifford Brown, To Brownie, with a melodic theme and head that suggests the great Brown-Roach groups, followed by originals by clarinet player Batiste (Fourth Month is an interesting take on April in Paris) while Marsalis’ Toni is a tender ballad. Blackwell drives everybody along as well as gets his solo spaces. There is one flaw in the packaging, The times for two tracks on the back cover is wrong. Three Musketeers is 17:45 not 12:45, while Fourth Month is 18:35, not 10:35, so one gets over a hour of superb jazz.

This review appeared in Jazz & Blues Report February 1996 (issue 208), and this disc can still be ordered from the Louisiana Music Factory, I believe I purchased this.

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