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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby


Jess Stacy

Ec-Stacy. 25 great piano performances 1935-45

ASV CD AJA 5172 [78.26]

2.Rhythm, Rhythm (I Got Rhythm)
3.Take Me To The Land Of Jazz
4.Rose Of Washington Square
5.Got Rhythm
6.Blue Room
7.Carnegie Jump
8.Darktown Strutters' Ball
10.Roll 'Em
11.Big John Special
12.Opus ¾
13.Vultee Special 
16.Down To Steamboat Tennessee
17.Daybreak Serenade
18.It's Only A Paper Moon
19.In A Mist
21.In The Dark/ Flashes
22.I Ain't Got Nobody
23.Blue Fives
24.Ridin' Easy  
25.Sing, Sing, Sing (excerpt)
Jess Stacy (piano ) with personnel including Bob Crosby, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Lee Wiley, Muggsy Spanier, The Bud Freeman Trio, Pee Wee Russell’s Hot Four Eddie Condon and the Windy City Seven, George Wettling and the Chicago Rhythm Kings

Versatile and subtle, Stacy was a perfect band pianist and a soloist of discretion and, when needed, old fashioned power. His fusion of Beiderbeckian lyricism and stomping boogie is one that has always appealed to those versed as much in the poetic strain in jazz as the more drenched shirt school – a dash of Keats and a tankard of sweat. He’s being well served by the French Classics label and their chronological survey but here we have a decade’s worth of Stacy from ASV starting in 1935.

That Beiderbecke influence, itself a Macdowell-Delius compound, was fleshed out with a lineage straight from the Teddy Wilson-Fats Waller axis. So we start with Barrelhouse, a stomper with the adamantine bass playing of Israel Crosby prominent, and take in such unexpected sounds as the remarkably aggressive alto playing of the normally imperturbable Johnny Hodges in Rhythm, rhythm. The sidemen are stellar - Pee Wee Russell and Spanier to the fore, and Stacy’s association with Goodman and Bob Crosby is covered as is Stacy’s own brief excursion into band leading on Daybreak Serenade. As an example of sophistication and modernity, though, the vivacious Goodman/Hampton composition Opus ¾ sounds as pertinent and infectious as the day in 1939 that it was penned.

From homages to Beiderbecke, via Chicago speakeasies, up-tempo boogie and that famous moment of coruscating intimacy, extracted from the live 1938 Sing, Sing, Sing at Carnegie Hall in which he turned a flag waver into three minutes of pastel shaded beauty, Stacy is here in all his multi-faceted versatility and panache in well engineered transfers and enthusiastic notes.

Jonathan Woolf

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