King Oliver & His Orchestra (1929-1930), Vol. 1 [Box]
Audio Remasterer: John R.T. Davies.
JSP's two-disc collection of King Oliver's 1929-1930 work, recorded in New York for Victor Records, is not exhaustive, nor does it focus on his greatest era (which would be the early-'20s recordings including the great "Dippermouth Blues"). However, the end of the '20s was the time of King Oliver's last burst of creativity, and while these recordings may be less startlingly fabulous than what Oliver and his band were doing earlier in the decade, they're still potent examples of early jazz. Listening to these recordings, it's clear that Oliver has been paying attention to the meteoric rise of his former star pupil Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five. Oliver is using a larger combo than Armstrong (featuring the great Barney Bigard on clarinet on several tracks), but the same sort of sprightly syncopation, along with a much fuller sound than on Oliver's earlier records, is apparent on tracks like the swinging "I'm Lonesome, Sweetheart." Purists should be aware that King Oliver was in increasingly poor health by this time, and he does not always play cornet on these sides. ~ Stewart Mason