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Various Artists: Le Lion De Paris

My question about this 2-CD album, the third in a series, is “Who buys them?” Some great musicians appear, usually in pretty good form. But the work Black Lion presents us with usually is far from their best or most important; this isn’t a Smithsonian-type collection, even though Sidney Bechet, Bill Coleman, Stephane Grappelli, Bud Powell, Johnny Griffin, Cecil Taylor and The Art Ensemble of Chicago appear. The stuff they perform was cut from 1953-74, after the peak of their influence, except for Taylor and The Art Ensemble. And the featured artists comprise a mixed bag; the album isn’t aimed at traditional or swing or bop or avant garde fans. There’s no new material on it, just previously issued bits and pieces. That rules out the completist collector. Go figure.

Anyway, the collection begins with two tracks by Bechet, one of the first jazzmen to swing. Appearing with him are Vic Dickenson on trombone and promoter George Wein on piano. At the age of at least 56, Bechet still plays with enormous drive.

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