Charlie Johnson's Paradise Ten: Harlem Drag


Harlem Drag


Charlie Johnson's Paradise Ten


Charlie Johnson: The Complete Sessions (EPM Musique)

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Charlie Johnson (piano), Sidney De Paris (trumpet), Edgar Sampson (alto sax),

Leonard Davis (trumpet), George Stevenson (trombone), Ben Whitted (reeds), Bobby Johnson (banjo), Billy Taylor, Sr. (tuba), George Stafford (drums)


Composed by Benny Waters


Recorded: New York, May 8, 1929


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

From the middle of the Jazz Age to the depths of the Depression, Charlie Johnson's band graced the stage at Small's Paradise Club in Harlem. Only a handful of stalwart fans remember this band nowadays, but along with Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington, Johnson was a pioneer in forging the big band sound that would eventually transform American popular music. Few jazz bands from the 1920s had a more modern conception of swinging section work, and though Johnson himself was not a scintillating soloist, he always had hot players in the band (such as Jabbo Smith and Benny Carter) ready to take a chorus. In this instance, Sidney De Paris does the honors, dishing up some of the rough-and-tumble trumpet work that must have put spring in the dancers' steps . . . and also served notice that Bubber Miley wasn't the only master of "jungle style" horn playing in Harlem.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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