This is a classic CD in every way. Trumpeter, Bernie Privin, a veteran of the Glenn Miller band, plays in the style of his hero, Louis Armstrong. I've never heard Privin play in such an uninhibited manner. He is "hot, hot, hot." Lou McGarity's trombone needs little introduction to vintage fans. He plays with enthusiasm and sensitivity on this album. I especially enjoyed his beautiful solo on James Hanley's 1919 composition, "Rose Of Washington Square." Even Condon's rhythm guitar is perfectly audible on the track. The young Kenny Davern plays his heart out on this fine session and shows the early influence of Pee Wee Russell. That influence still shows up occasionally in his current recordings for Arbors Jazz.
The rhythm section is also all-star material in the form of the Welsh-born pianist Dill Jones, the ex-New York City Symphony bassist Jack Lesberg and Cliff Leeman, one of the most articulate drummers in jazz and a veteran of many swing bands. The entire group was the essence of what was loosely termed "Chicago Jazz."
The dozen tunes on this CD are all closely associated with Eddie Condon and include "At The Jazz Band Ball", "Rosetta", "Blue Room", "China Boy" and "Royal Garden Blues." Although some listeners will consider many of the songs to be stale, it's better to think of them as having been "killed by kindness." They are proven standards, one and all. This album is an overdue tribute to a man who contributed so much to jazz over six decades.
I happened to be doing a guest broadcast on the CBC International Short Wave network the morning Condon died in August of 1973. Perhaps I was among the first to announce his demise to an international audience. It was a sad day and still lingers in my memory. Thanks to Kenny Davern for preserving this great material.