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Kid Ory: The Complete Kid Ory Verve Sessions

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There is no confusion these days about what New Orleans “tailgate” trombone playing is all about. Most modern practitioners of that venerable style tend toward an exaggerated down-home aesthetic: screaming yawps, wild-man growls, howling blasts, blaring gutbucket smears. That is, all the unsubtle tricks and tropes that make people think of the trombone as a carnival novelty act.

If the current state of trad jazz trombone is any indication, then the philospher was right-history does repeat itself as farce. But the first time around, New Orleans slip-horn playing was not the self-parody it has become. All the proof you could ever need is to be found in a new box set from Mosaic records: The Complete Kid Ory Verve Sessions. Recorded in the late 1950s, when Ory was in his early 70s, the Verve sides compiled by Mosaic demonstrate that Kid Ory’s Creole trombone playing may not have been particularly complex or harmonically challenging, but for all its rambunctiousness, his music is nonetheless subtle and lyrical.

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