Includes liner notes by Charles Edward Smith.
JAMES P. JOHNSON:
Personnel: James P. Johnson (piano); Frank Newton (trumpet); Al Casey (guitar); Pops Foster (bass); Eddie Dougherty (drums).
Personnel: Coleman Hawkins (tenor saxophone); Howard McGhee (trumpet); Sir Charles Thompson (piano); Eddie Robinson (bass); Densil Best (drums).
Personnel: James P. Johnson (piano).
Like several sessions originally recorded for Asch and later reissued by Stinson, this Collectables CD compiles two unrelated dates onto one disc. Stride pianist James P. Johnson leads a June 1944 session featuring mostly original material, accompanied by trumpeter Frankie Newton, guitarist Al Casey, bassist Pops Foster, and drummer Eddie Dougherty. Jess Pickett's "The Dream Rag" is an excellent feature for Newton's muted horn as well as Johnson's piano playing. Johnson's solo of his "Euphonic Sounds" is the high point, though all of the performances are enjoyable, even with the inconsistent recording level, which is probably due to faulty remastering during the LP era. The following year Coleman Hawkins recorded with a quintet including trumpeter Howard McGhee, pianist Sir Charles Thompson, bassist Eddie Robinson, and drummer Denzil Best in a session that mixes elements of swing and early bop. Of the originals written by the leader, McGhee or Thompson, Hawkins' "Bean Stalkin'" is the only piece which made any lasting impression, as the big-toned tenor saxophonist still had it in his regular repertoire some 15 years later. There are no problems with low recording levels or excessive surface noise on this historic session, so its presence on the CD alone makes its acquisition worthwhile. ~ Ken Dryden
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