Johnny Dodds had such a distinctive style on clarinet in the 1920s, that during his lifetime very few (other than Jimmy O’Bryant) tried to sound like him. By the mid-1930s, Benny Goodman had become the dominant influence on clarinetists and, even during the Dixieland revival, most clarinetists had a much smoother style than Dodds, looking towards Goodman or perhaps Jimmie Noone for inspiration.
Things were different in Great Britain where Sandy Brown (who later changed his style) and Cy Laurie sounded just like Dodds. Cy Laurie Blows Blue Hot from 1954 was one of his classic statements. His septet with trumpeter Al Fairweather and trombonist John Picard performed eight selections on the original ten-inch LP. Lake’s Cy Laurie CD reissues that set along with eight other numbers from the group (taken from 45s and a 78) plus two complementary songs from a slightly later Laurie unit.
One thing that is remarkable about this music is that it is almost impossible to guess what year it was recorded. Laurie’s group sounds like a Chicago band from 1928 with the leader playing creatively within Dodds’ style, Fairweather showing the inspiration of early Louis Armstrong without feeling compelled to imitate his sound or ideas, and Picard hinting at early Kid Ory. The timeless music, which was well-recorded, could be from the 1920s, the ’80s, or today rather than 1954. I can think of very few sessions taking place in the United States during the 1950s that sound like this.
Among the many highlights are enthusiastic revivals of such pieces as “Got No Blues,” “Jazz Lips,” “Skit Dat De Dat,” “Forty & Tight,” “Stockyard Strut,” and even “Hyena Stomp” (although without the laughing heard on Jelly Roll Morton’s version). Laurie, who contributed “Blues Mess Around” and “Pleading The Blues,” is in superb form throughout. This set is a must for anyone interested in Chicago jazz of the late 1920s, even though it is from London in the mid-1950s.