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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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EDMOND HALL

Profoundly Blue
His 22 finest 1937-44

RETROSPECTIVE RTR 4286

 

 

Edmond Hall & His Celeste Quartet

1. Edmond Hall Blues

2. Jammin’ in Four

3. Profoundly Blue

Billy Holiday Orchestra

4. Me Myself & I

Lionel Hampton Orchestra

5. My Buddy

Red Allen Orchestra

6. Down in Jungle Town

7. Canal St. Blues

Zutty Singleton Orchestra

8. King Porter Stomp

9. Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble

Edmond Hall and his Blue Note Jazz Men

10. High Society

11. Night Shift Blues

Coleman Hawkins with The Leonard Feather All Stars

12. Esquire Blues

Edmond Hall Sextet

13. The Man I Love

14. Downtown Café Boogie

Edmond Hall & his All Star Quintet

15. Rompin’ in 44

16. Smooth Sailin’

Edmond Hall Swingtet

17. It’s Been So Long

18. Big City Blues

Edmond Hall & his Quartet with Teddy Wilson

19. Sleepy Time Girl

20. It Had to be you

21. Caravan

22. Showpiece


The selection here focuses on the years between 1937 and 1944, thus avoiding those ubiquitous post-war carve-ups when Edmond Hall joined forces with Eddie Condon. Instead we get the classic 1941 Celeste Quartet recordings, the excellent collaboration with Red Allen, the Blue Note sides and Commodores. That’s the bare bones of a selection devoted to the wonderfully articulate clarinetist Edmond Hall.

The Celeste Quartet features two young guns in the shape of Charlie Christian, playing acoustic guitar, and Israel Crosby, with his big bass tone. Jammim’ in Four – all three compositions here are credited to Meade Lux Lewis – is a St Louis Blues type affair but brings out the best in all four men. There’s a single track where Hall is in a group accompanying Billie Holiday, the lovely Me, Myself and I and where the pianist is little-recalled James Sherman. A small band led by Lionel Hampton features the stellar talents of Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Joe Sullivan, Freddie Green, Artie Bernstein and Zutty Singleton but a meatier proposition emerges when Hall teams with his fellow Louisianan, Red Allen for a sequence of sides on 28 May 1940. These are rather Old School tunes, but played with energy and verve – and it’s especially exciting to hear master drummer Singleton’s solo on King Porter Stomp.

You couldn’t get much more of an all-star band than that formed for the Commodore session on 4 December 1943 –the band included none other than Cootie Williams, Hawkins and Art Tatum under the aegis of Leonard Feather. It’s also interesting to hear pianist Eddie Heywood’s baroque stylings in the recordings he made with Hall later that month – his boogie syntax is quite individualistic too. Rather subtler explorations of chamber jazz come in the session made by Hall’s All Star Quintet – Red Norvo, Teddy Wilson, Carl Kress and Johnny Williams at the drums. These fluent sides don’t omit some bite in Hall’s tone, that grit-in-the-oyster element that was so much a part of his musical armoury in addition to the kind of runs that Benny Goodman so venerated. It’s also a fine selection to have included the Quartet sides with Wilson, Billy Taylor and Art Trappier which build up a virtuosic head of steam when necessary.

Hall was a perfect fit for swing era small bands, and swung hard on whatever, whenever. This is a fine selection though I should warn prospective purchasers that it’s a clone of ASV Mono Living Era CD AJA 5410 issued a number of years ago.

Jonathan Woolf



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