It’s possible you have never heard this nine-minute treasure before, and its intended audience did not either. Recorded for V-Disc on March 12, 1944, it is one of Eddie Condon’s IMPROMPTU ENSEMBLES — that is, a blues with surprises — a concert finale reproduced most happily in a recording studio. I don’t know whether it was a collaboration between Eddie and recording supervisor George T. Simon, but the pairing is memorable. The basic personnel is a “Condon group”: Wild Bill Davison, cornet; George Lugg, trombone; Pee Wee Russell, clarinet; Joe Bushkin, piano; Pops Foster, bass; Kansas Fields, drums. The delightful guests are James P. Johnson, piano; Ed Hall, clarinet, Jimmy Rushing, vocal.
(The picture above is of the CD issue of these V-Disc sides, which can be found online if one is willing to search for a minute or two.)
A very similar band had played (and they had been recorded) at Town Hall the day before, with the results also issued on an out-of-print CD, so there is some connection: I don’t know whether the V-Disc sides, which can be slightly wayward, were recorded after midnight the next day.
However. I post this not only because I delight in the music, and because many JAZZ LIVES readers will find it new, but it is also my quiet rebuke to those who can’t tolerate stylistic encroachment of any kind. You know: this isn’t “authentic,” it’s not “jazz,” but it’s been corrupted by “swing” — the people who divide the music into schools. Pops Foster? He’s a New Orleans bassist. James P. Johnson? A Harlem stride pianist. Jimmy Rushing? A Kansas City blues shouter. But the musicians had no interest in such restrictive labeling. And I am uncomfortable with the notion of Eddie as an intent political activist specializing in racial equality. These were guys who could play, and that was all. The results are precious.
May your happiness increase!