Monday, July 11, 2016

George Lewis * Trios and Bands * 1943-45 * American Music AMCD-4

St Philip Street Breakdown *
Over the Waves *
La Marseillaise *
New Orleans Hula *
Hindustan *
Ciribiribin *
San Jacinto Stomp *
Gloryland **
High Society **
San Jacinto Blues
Ice Cream *
Life Will Be Sweeter *
Old Rugged Cross *
Lead Me Savior *
This Love of Mine *
Over the Waves *
Careless Love ***
Just a Little While to Stay Here ***
Just a Closer Walk With Thee ***

(*)The George Lewis Trio:

George Lewis * clarinet
Lawrence Marrero * banjo
Alcide Pavageau * bass

(**)With Kid Shots:

Louis 'Kid Shots' Madison * trumpet
George Lewis * clarinet
Jim Robinson * trombone
Lawrence Marrero * banjo
Alcide Pavageau * bass
Baby Dodds * drums

(***) N. O. Stompers:

Avery "Kid" Howard * trumpet
George Lewis * clarinet
Jim Robinson * trombone
Lawrence Marrero * banjo
Chester Zardis * bass
Edgar Moseley * drums

Like George Lewis Plays Hymns, recorded thirty years later, this CD, George Lewis: Trios & Bands from American Music (AMCD-4) is remarkable for the amount of solo clarinet, outside of the usual New Orleans ensemble tradition. According to the liner notes, many of the trio numbers on this disc were the result of Lewis's dissatisfaction with a full band recording he'd made just prior to them. He asked to be given more studio time, with just a banjo and bass--even saying he'd work for free. Lawrence Marrero and Alcide Pavageau brought their instruments over to Lewis's St Phillip Street kitchen the next Monday evening, and were paid to record seven of their favorite dance tunes and hymns. Because of the spare instrumentation, we get a very clear look, so to speak, of Lewis's playing from this era.

Also included on this disc are some very important historical documents. The 1944 session that produced "Ice Cream" and "Life Will Be Sweeter" were recorded right after Lewis returned from the hospital, where he had been treated after a life altering accident: his chest had been crushed in an accident on the banana docks. The joy and verve of Lewis's playing is still there--perhaps even enhanced.

Perhaps most remarkably, from a repertoire sense, the New Orleans Stompers 1943 recordings at the end of this disc, of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" and "Just a Little While to Stay Here", staples of the trad jazz repertoire, are here presented for the first time on record by a jazz band.

For those wanting an introduction to mid-career George Lewis, this disc serves as a great primer. As an historical document, it's essential.

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