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Album Review

Though never an influential guitarist (he rarely soloed and frequently went silent altogether), Eddie Condon exerted a significant influence on jazz by virtue of the bands he led and his imposing stage presence. An acerbic wit and talented raconteur, Condon was, at his peak, a very popular figure on the Chicago jazz scene. His style of playing is closely associated with that city, though it will sound an awful lot like vintage New Orleans jazz to neophyte listeners. This live recording was made in a high school gym in Syracuse, NY, in April of 1971; the original reel-to-reel tapes were discovered in a basement and remastered before they could deteriorate further than they had. The resulting sound is acceptable, but the playing is brilliant. On this night, Condon was leading a sextet that featured Kenny Davern on clarinet and soprano sax, Bernie Privin on trumpet, Lou McGarity on trombone, and a rhythm section consisting of the exceptional pianist Dill Jones, bassist Jack Lesberg, and drummer Cliff Leeman. The band's renditions of such traditional jazz classics as "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Muskrat Ramble," and "St. Louis Blues" are infused with light and heat, tremendously energetic and yet loosely swinging. Davern and Privin are both in especially fine form on "Royal Garden Blues." Highly recommended to fans of traditional jazz.

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