Charlie Johnson's Paradise Ten: Harlem Drag
Charlie Johnson's Paradise Ten
Charlie Johnson: The Complete Sessions (EPM Musique)
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