|VARIOUS BANDS— The Best of Dixieland (Alto Take: 2 ALN 1947).
Total playing time: 76 mins. 05 secs.
When the Saints Go Marching In; South Rampart Street Parade; Lazy River; Basin Street Blues;
Muskrat Ramble; At the Jazz Band Ball; There’ll Be Some Changes Made; High Society; Runnin’
Wild; Down by the Old Mill Stream; Willie the Weeper; Jazz Me Blues; Milenberg Joys; Way Down
Yonder in New Orleans; Bye Bye Bill Bailey; The Faithful Hussar; Riverboat Shuffle; Royal Garden
Blues; After You’ve Gone; Dippermouth Blues; Tin Roof Blues; Cotton Fields; Shreveport Stomp;
Sugar; Original Dixieland One-Step.
These are too many to list here, but they include the bands of Louis Armstrong, Al
Hirt, Pete Fountain, Kid Ory, Muggsy Spanier, Jack Teagarden, and Dutch Swing College
Joining the long list of “Best of …” albums, this one includes titles that seem to
indicate it is aimed at those for whom the term “Dixieland” conjures up visions of straw
hats, striped shirts, and red suspenders. A glance at the play list would suggest that
about half or more of them have the attraction that familiar war horses have for the
The list of performers, however, is impressive. Although a few might be labeled
“commercial,” appealing to those who frequent clubs like those on today’s Bourbon
Street in New Orleans, such as Al Hirt and Pete Fountain (who also played in these clubs
for long periods), I would not so designate the others. Die-hard fans of traditional jazz
will not quibble with Teagarden, Ory, Spanier, Lewis, et al., although most of the tracks
on this CD by those artists will no doubt be already in these fans’ collections. So here,
perhaps, the “Dixieland” of the album’s title refers only to the tunes, rather than the
Strangely enough the only non-U.S jazz band included is from Holland: the Dutch
Swing College Band. (It is also possible that Bechet is backed by some French musicians,
but no personnel are given for most tracks. In Europe in 1957, Bechet played concerts
with Buck Clayton, Vic Dickenson, and several other U.S. musicians, and most likely this
track is from a concert in which they all played together.) It would seem to me that since
the compiler(s) ventured outside the U.S. for the bands, at least some of the British
bands, such as those of Barber, Colyer, Lyttelton, et al., and also a few other American
ones, such as those of Oliver, Watters, Condon, and Murphy for starters, who are all
conspicuously absent, should have been included. Since the title of the CD imposes no
geographic or temporal restrictions, they should be represented, as well as, perhaps,
other European bands and those from other parts of the world—Australia and Japan, for
instance. A better compendium would have included such, possibly limiting each
group to one track rather than the several accorded most groups on this CD.
Certainly the disc provides some 76 minutes of good music. Listening to the tracks is
akin to listening to an iPod or mp3 player in the shuffle position—there is no apparent
organizing principle here, and as to time periods the selection flits back and forth among
the bands, seemingly at random. So “variety,” it seems, was the aim.
The CD is priced attractively and should not send anyone to the bank for a loan.
Although most people reading this will already have most of the titles, ordering
information can be obtained by sending an e-mail to <email@example.com>
or contacting E1 Entertainment Distribution USA, 22 Harbor Park Drive, Port Washington