Saturday, December 05, 2015

The King Jazz Story

The King Jazz Story
Storyville Records

The Swedish Storyville Records label has issued a 5 CD box set, "The King Jazz Story" which reissues all of the recordings from this fabled late 1940s label associated with clarinet player and reefer supplier to Louis Armstrong, Mezz Mezzrow. The aim of Mezzrow and his associates in the label was to present some 'authentic' jazz and most of these recordings based on blues and classic New Orleans jazz featured the great Sidney Bechet on soprano sax along with Sammy Price on piano on many tracks as well.

The first CD for example opens with 11 very strong blues and boogie woogie piano solos by Sammy Price followed by two vocals by Pleasant Joseph backed by Price. Then there are 11 tracks (including alternate takes) by a group of Mezzrow, Bechet, Price, Hot Lips Page, Pops Foster and Sid Catliff with four vocals by Joseph. Interspersed with the music are tracks where Mezzrow discusses the label and the making of some of these recordings.

The remaining four CDs are full of various configurations of Mezzrow-Bechet groups and showcase the genius of Bechet. The songs are presented in the recorded order so one does get several takes of the same songs together so one may wish to use shuffle when listening to the nearly 6 hours of music and short spoken interludes. There are so many outstanding selections including "Perdido Station Stomp," "The Sheik of Araby," "Ole Miss," "Out of the Gallion," "Tommy's Blues, " and "The Blues and Freud." The booklet accompanying the box contains Chris Albertson's essay on the label, Mezz and the music contained here and for fans of classic jazz it is a real treat for all of these recordings to be available.

I purchased this box set. This is one of a number of short reviews I have written for the 2015 Holiday Gift Guide edition of Jazz & Blues Report which is available at Here is Mezz Mezzrow and Sidney Bechet.

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