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52nd Street: Scrapple to the Apple

In the 1970s and ’80s, one of the most interesting record labels was Inner City which domestically released important titles from such overseas companies as SteepleChase, Black & Blue (on their Classic Jazz subsidiary), Enja and East Wind in addition to recording many sessions of its own. Its huge catalog ranged from swing to fusion, but most of its titles have been scarce since the mid-’80s. Recently Inner City’s founder Irv Kratka has begun to reissue some of the recordings including three excellent CDs from Chicago pianist-singer Judy Roberts and two titles apiece from Eddie Jefferson and veteran clarinetist Bob Wilber. I am particularly happy to see 52nd Street’s Scrapple to the Apple return. This 1985 obscurity features the scat singing of Wendy Simon and pianist Eric Shaw, plus some fine alto solos from Tony Williams on a very boppish date that would easily be enjoyed by fans of Jon Hendricks. Also of strong interest is a previously unreleased three-CD set from Jim Cullum’s Happy Jazz Band with a CD apiece featuring their versions of the music of Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong’s 1920s recordings and Jelly Roll Morton. Unfortunately the recording date and personnel (other than listing cornetist Cullum, clarinetist Allan Vaché and trombonist Randy Reinhart) are not given; is that John Sheridan on piano and is this from the ’80s? In any case, the spirited music is quite fun and one welcomes the return of Inner City and Classic Jazz.

Originally Published