Red Allen All-Stars: Wild Man Blues


Wild Man Blues


Red Allen All-Stars


The Sound of Jazz (Columbia CK 45234)

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Henry 'Red' Allen (trumpet), Rex Stewart (cornet), Vic Dickenson (trombone), Pee Wee Russell (clarinet), Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax), Milt Hinton (bass), Jo Jones (drums),

Nat Pierce (piano), Danny Barker (guitar)


Composed by Louis Armstrong & Jelly Roll Morton


Recorded: New York, December 4, 1957


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

A few days before CBS-TV's all-star special The Sound of Jazz (1957), most of the scheduled participants appeared for a rehearsal at the Columbia Records studio. Their final run-throughs, all quite polished, were recorded and later released on LP, which has long been available on CD—in stark contrast to the actual soundtrack. Henry "Red" Allen fronts this stellar nonet, and the solos by Hawkins, Dickenson, Russell and Allen himself are noteworthy. But the real excitement comes from longtime Ellington cornetist Rex Stewart, and from an absolutely thrilling ensemble finish.

First recorded in Chicago in 1927 by Johnny Dodds' Black Bottom Stompers (with Louis Armstrong on cornet), "Wild Man Blues" was covered two weeks later by Armstrong & His Hot Seven in a recording most memorable for the presence, at the 55-second mark, of what may be the youthful Satch's most egregious CLAM. (Yes, he was mortal after all.) A month afterward, the tune was redone by its co-composer Jelly Roll Morton & His Red Hot Peppers, at a brisker tempo than his predecessors' plodding. Agreeably following Jelly Roll's upbeat example, this version from 30 years later shows how wild these old men could still get. If you reflexively word-associate Wild Man Blues with the 1998 documentary about hollow-toned avocational clarinetist Woody Allen, hearing this track just might recondition those reflexes.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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