April 1997

Sammy Price
Sammy Price & His Blusicians, 1944
Progressive

This contains in its entirety an exceptionally successful session produced for World Transcriptions by Milt Gabler. Sammy Price nearly always proved a catalytic agent of real power in blues-based performances, and here he heads five kindred spirits in Bill Coleman, Joe Eldridge, Ike Quebec, Oscar Pettiford and Hal West. The interest of one and all is clearly to swing and express themselves in the forthright, uninhibited fashion that had long justified "hot" as a descriptive adjective for exciting jazz. Together, these men certainly belie the canard that jazz had become stagnant in the early '40s. Frank Driggs ended his annotation (written in 1984) by saying, "It would be extremely difficult to make records like these today." Twelve years later, it would be harder still, if not impossible.

Both Coleman and Quebec solo so well and surely as to confirm the belief that they have been much underrated. So for that matter has Roy Eldridge's brother, whose alto has something of Benny Carter's lithe intelligence. The three horns riff together with a rare feeling of joyous vitality, and the rhythm section gives them the right kind of driving support. Price's solos, whether at blues or boogie-woogie tempos, have an authority that never fails to maintain the ensemble's momentum.

There are a dozen complete performances here, mostly blues with "Honeysuckle Rose" for a finale, as well as several alternative takes and uncompleted sections. Few records nowadays are so consistently rewarding.

Originally published in April 1997
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