Classic Jazz at Saint-Germain-des-Prés

JAZZ CLASSIC OF THE MONTH

Classic Jazz at Saint-Germain-des-PrésTwo formerly rare ten-inch LPs were reissued on the single CD Classic Jazz at Saint-Germain-des-Prés which was released as part of Universal Music’s Jazz In Paris series in 2000. While the sessions are unrelated to each other, both feature an American veteran of the 1920s performing with top-notch French musicians, resulting in music that is quite exciting.

Albert Nicholas (1900-73) was one of the most technically skilled New Orleans clarinetists to emerge during the ’20s and he always had an immediately recognizable sound. Although he worked steadily, including being one of the main soloists with Luis Russell’s early 1930s band, in 1953 he chose to move permanently to Europe. While he did not receive the acclaim of Sidney Bechet (who regarded him as a rival), Nicholas recorded a steady string of fine recordings while overseas. On the Classic Jazz CD, he is featured in 1954 with two different septets and, on an uptempo “Old Man River” and “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans,” in a trio with pianist Claude Bolling and drummer Robert Barnet. The performances are full of spirit, excellent musicianship, and heated ensembles particularly “Basin Street Blues” and “Clarinet Marmalade.”

Hot Jazz Jubile

The second half of the CD features trombonist Jimmy Archey (1902-67), who had worked with King Oliver, James P. Johnson and various swing era big bands and later in life played with New Orleans revival groups. He led relatively few sessions in his career with the one on this CD being the most stirring. Archey is part of an otherwise French octet.

The first number, “Tiger Rag,” is taken at such a rapid tempo that one wonders how the trombonist will be able to solo through it, but his playing is not only relaxed but surprisingly fluent and confident. Trumpeter Louis Henry, clarinetist Gerard Badini, Michel Attenoux on soprano, and the other trombonist Claude Gousset are also excellent throughout the session. After performing such numbers as “Sensation,” “Christopher Columbus,” and “Swanee River,” the set’s closer is one of the exhilarating versions of “That’s A Plenty” ever recorded, a really rousing rendition.

Classic Jazz at St. Germain-des-Prés is certainly well worth searching for.

Evergreen

Classic Jazz at St. Germain-des-Prés
Gitanes Jazz Productions 4400130452

Scott Yanow

Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for AllMusic.com. He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.

Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

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