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The Charleston Chasers Vol. 1 1925-1930

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Album Review

The year 1999 saw the release of two different retrospectives involving records originally issued under the name of the Charleston Chasers. While Timeless Historical chose the strictly chronological approach, Living Era assembled a series of mostly excellent picks, making this the best overall taste of the Chasers available on compact disc. Even though Living Era didn't include two wonderful sides from 1925, the disc does open up with no less than 12 consecutive instrumentals. To be able to spend more than half an hour absorbing the sound of this band without any vocal intrusions is a wonderful experience, satisfying for any seasoned traditional jazz fiend and crucial for those who are approaching this music for the first time. Both "Sugar Foot Strut" and "Mississippi Mud" appear here as instrumentals. This is an improvement on the Timeless collection in which these two titles were burdened with foolish vocalists, and, in the case of "Mud," racist lyrics. The Chasers' personnel changed constantly, with a few mainstays like Miff Mole and Jimmy Dorsey providing continuity and, in the case of Mole, a sure-footed, rock-solid intensity. Primal percussionist Vic Berton appears on the first dozen tunes, at times utilizing what sounds like a rudimentary vibraphone. This instrument was listed in the original credits as both "harpophone" and "metallophone." Subsequent drummers were Davey Tough, Stan King, and eventually Gene Krupa. Clarence Williams' wife, Eva Taylor, sings pleasantly on five tracks, including "Turn On the Heat," which Fats Waller was to cook up so marvelously three months later as a piano solo. Eva and the Chasers perform the song at a deliberately relaxed tempo, generating surprisingly sexual overtones even before Eva gets around to calling her beau "my little radiator." As for the rest of the vocalists, Roy Evans was a silly singer, and Paul Small sounds kinda tiresome. As the chronology moves through 1930 to 1931, Tommy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden, Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman all show up as premonitions of where popular jazz was heading. For dessert, Mr. T sings "Basin Street Blues" and "Beale Street Blues" in his laid-back Texas drawl. With only four dud vocals out of 24 selections, Living Era came dangerously close to giving the world a perfect set of sides by the Charleston Chasers.


Formed: 1925

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s

The Charleston Chasers was a name used between 1925 and 1931 for a series of recording groups that did not exist outside of the studios. The 1925 edition (which recorded two numbers) matched cornetist Leo McConville with trombonist Miff Mole and pianist Arthur Schutt. By their second session two years later, the Charleston Chasers was a group similar to Red Nichols' Five Pennies with Nichols on cornet, trombonist Mole, Jimmy Dorsey on clarinet and alto (he was later replaced by clarinetist Pee Wee...
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