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Album Review

Oliver, King / Creole Jazz Band – “Great 1923 Gennetts, The ” – [Herwin Records, Inc.]

ArtCrimes   10/16/2007   12-inch, Jazz

King Oliver / Creole Jazz Band “The Great 1923 Gennetts”

In 1922, when King Oliver-devotee Louis Armstrong joined his mentor’s Creole Jazz Band in Chicago, it was only in a supporting role, since bandleader Oliver also played cornet, but it was in this band that Armstrong’s playing gained real attention. They were popular before Louis joined, and even more so afterwards. At this time, he also met his first wife, Lil, who played piano for Oliver…encouraged by Lil to forge his own path rather than play second cornet with Oliver, Louis would leave the Creole Jazz Band in 1924, so these sessions for the Gennett label, made in April and October of 1923 in Richmond, Indiana, are the only recorded evidence of Armstrong’s time in the band. The Gennett sides are faulted for not being a true demonstration of the Creole Jazz Band’s onstage sound…the banjo is often too loud and Oliver’s instrument too quiet on some of these tracks. But there’s still great playing here by Oliver (see “Dippermouth Blues”) and Armstrong (see “Chimes Blues”) on cornet, and Johnny Dodds on clarinet.

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