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The Swingville All Stars: At the Jazz Band Hall

These derive from a series that began in 1960 on Swingville, a Prestige subsidiary. Many of the musicians used were Swing Era veterans, more or less stranded at the time by changes in the music business. The big band scene had disintegrated as bebop and rock prospered. Young people were no longer dancing to jazz, but some of their seniors still cried for yesterday’s music. Producer Ozzie Cadena may well have been confused as to what they wanted, because he has Lee Blair play hokey banjo solos on several tracks, and almost half the chosen repertoire consists of Dixieland warhorses. There’s a horrendous eight-horn traffic jam at the end of “Darktown Strutters’ Ball.”

The kicks repeatedly come from the soloists, and there are some valuable ones here, like Doc Cheatham, Sidney De Paris, Dicky Wells, Vic Dickenson, Benny Morton, Buster Bailey, Kenny Davern, Ed and Herb Hall, Bud Freeman and pianists Dick Wellstood and Red Richards. Despite the best efforts of the last two, the rhythm section is seldom invigorating, Herbie Lovelle’s accentuations tending to the inappropriate. One is left feeling that a bit more preparation and someone to write swingable sketches could have made much more of the opportunity.

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