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Eddie Condon

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Album Review

As he entered into a lifetime of session and event organizing, banjoist and guitarist Eddie Condon was quite busy as a sideman during the 1920s and early ‘30s. A 22-track Condon sampler released by Timeless during the '90s taps into the years 1928-1931, beginning with two titles by trombonist Miff Mole's Molers. Condon had enormous respect for Mole and was one of the few to attend his funeral in 1961. "Oh Baby" (with a thrilling group scat intro) and "Back Home Again in Indiana" (with a delightfully naive vocal by Condon that he would spend the rest of his years trying to live down) were recorded on July 28, 1928 by the Eddie Condon Quartet, with Frank Teschmacher blowing clarinet and alto sax, Joe Sullivan at the piano, and Gene Krupa behind the drums. "Makin' Friends" and "I'm Sorry I Made You Cry" three months later by Condon, Sullivan, singing trombonist Jack Teagarden, and talking clarinetist Mezz Mezzrow as Eddie Condon's Footwarmers. In February, 1929, this little group reassembled with African American tenor saxophonist Happy Caldwell and several other musicians for what Condon later claimed was one of the very first racially mixed sessions for a nationally distributed major label (Victor). Billed as Eddie's Hot Shots, the band ground out two take of "I'm Gonna Stomp, Mr. Henry Lee" and "That's a Serious Thing." According to Condon, who described this period in vivid detail in his autobiography We Called It Music, the Hot Shots date was the immediate precursor to the very first recordings ever made under the banner of Fats Waller & His Buddies. That session, which Condon attempted to organize under dauntingly hedonistic circumstances, took place on March 1, 1929 with Condon playing banjo. Oddly enough, the producers of this collection did not include the Waller sides, but opted instead to fill the rest of the album with 12 titles representing Condon's involvement with Red McKenzie & the Mound City Blue Blowers. The best of these are the selections on which McKenzie concentrates on generating kazoo-like effects using his trusty paper and comb ("Arkansas Blues," "Tailspin Blues," "Firehouse Blues") , and the titles that feature tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins (James P. Johnson's "If I Could Be with You One Hour Tonight" and "Hello Lola"). Other early jazz heroes who appear on this collection are Muggsy Spanier, Pee Wee Russell, Bud Freeman, Jimmy Dorsey, Red Nichols, and Benny Goodman.


Born: 16 November 1905 in Goodland, IN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

A major propagandist for freewheeling Chicago jazz, an underrated rhythm guitarist, and a talented wisecracker, Eddie Condon's main importance to jazz was not so much through his own playing as in his ability to gather together large groups of all-stars and produce exciting, spontaneous, and very coherent music. Condon started out playing banjo with Hollis Peavey's Jazz Bandits when he was 17, he worked with members of the famed Austin High School Gang in the 1920s, and in 1927 he co-led (with Red...
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