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Periods Jazz Digest by Various Artists

The Period record label is better known among collectors of classical music. The company once occupied offices on East 74th Street in New York and is now just a memory. In the early days of vinyl microgroove recordings, the Period label dabbled briefly with jazz and blues music. During the period of 1954-57, they recorded a number of "modern" and traditional artists. The label sold off the rights to the more modern players like Thad Jones, Charles Mingus, Al Haig, Ralph Burns, Osie Johnson, Sonny Rollins and Jimmy Cleveland many years ago. However, a solid representation of vintage jazz and blues performers remained until Empire Musicwerks recently acquired the rights to re-issue this quality material.

All recordings included on Period's Jazz Digest are from the 1950s with the exception of the three tracks by Django Reinhart and the Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France. "Danse Norvegienne," "Melodie Au Crepuscules" and "Nuages" are from the 1940s and feature the clarinet of Hubert Rostaing rather than Grappelli's violin. The quintet tracks are the only elements of this album that suffer a small degree of audio deterioration.

The Pee Wee Russell sides feature the clarinetist in the company of cornetist Ruby Braff, trombonist Vic Dickenson, pianist Nat Pierce, tenor-man Bud Freeman, bassist Charlie Potter and drummer Karl Kiffe. All three tracks are vintage Pee Wee!

Jack Teagarden appears on two fine tracks from a 1954 session supervised by Leonard Feather. The Teagarden sides highlight the leader with an all-star outfit. "Mr. T" is joined by trumpeter Dick Cary, clarinetist Edmond Hall, guitarist Karl Kress, bassist Walter Page and drummer Ray Bauduc. Listeners are treated to a Jack Teagarden vocal on "Meet Me Where They Play The Blues." "Davenport Blues" finds Dick Cary playing some of the hottest trumpet ever. Karl Kress, Edmond Hall and Teagarden deliver memorable solos too. Let's hear some more from this great band.

Singer Maxine Sullivan delivers a pair of her most famous songs. "Loch Lomond" and "I'm Comin' Virginia" find the vintage vocalist in the company of Charlie Shavers, Hilton Jefferson, Buster Bailey, Dick Hyman, Milt Hinton and drummer Louis Barnum from a 1956 session. Trumpeter Charlie Shavers returns with two instrumentals in the form of "Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm" and a classic version of "Rose Room." The latter features great solos by Shavers and alto player Russell Procope. The sextet also contains bassist Aaron Bell, drummer Specs Powell and pianist Billy Kyle who was fresh from Louis Armstrong's band.

Period Records dabbled in roots music too. The Period's Jazz Digest offers two songs by Big Bill Broonzy from recordings made in France. The date is uncertain. Broonzy sings "Baby Please Don't Go" and his own "A Letter To My Baby." Both tracks are solo vocals accompanied by his own guitar.

Folk legend, Josh White appears with his buddy, bassist Al Hall. The quartet also includes organist Sammy Benskin and drummer Jimmy Crawford. "She's Too Much For Me" and "Evil Hearted Me" are wonderful examples of White's blues/jazz repertoire. Josh White was under-appreciated in North America.

Period's Jazz Digest is recommended listening. It's an interesting anthology from a nearly forgotten recording company. This reviewer would like to hear more. Readers are invited to visit the label's website and listen to sound samples.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Various Artists
  • CD Title: Periods Jazz Digest
  • Genre: Traditional / New Orleans
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Reissue Original Release: 1950-57
  • Record Label: Empire Musicwerks
  • Tracks: Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm (Charlie Shavers); Danse Norvegienne (Django Reinhardt); Pee Wee Blues (Pee Wee Russell); Davenport Blues (Jack Teagarden); Baby Please Dont Go (Big Bill Broonzy); I'm Coming Virginia (Maxine Sullivan); Rose Room (Charlie Shavers); Nuages (Django Reinhardt); That Old Feeling (Pee Wee Russell); She's Too Much For Me (Josh White); Meet Me Where They Play The Blues (Jack Teagarden); It All Depends On You (Pee Wee Russell); A Letter To My Baby (Big Bill Broonzy); Melodie Au Crepuscule (Django Reinhardt); Loch Lomond (Maxine Sullivan); Evil Hearted Me (Josh White); Oh No (Pee Wee Russell).'
  • Musicians: Charlie Shavers; Django Reinhardt; Maxine Sullivan; Jack Teagarden; Pee Wee Russell; Josh White; Big Bill Broonzy.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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