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Mahattan Masters 1945

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Album Review

When one thinks of the year 1945 in relationship to jazz history, the bebop revolution comes quickly to mind for some listeners, while others may think of the end of the big-band era. However, at that point in time, the Dixieland revival was also gaining momentum. Many of the top classic jazz musicians who came to maturity in the 1920s were still only in their forties at the most, and, if anything, had grown as players through the years even while the continual evolution of jazz was in danger of passing them by. Cornetist Muggsy Spanier, a basic but sincere and heartfelt improviser, and the eccentric and highly original clarinetist Pee Wee Russell were certainly in peak form in 1945, as shown on the 18 selections that comprise this consistently exciting CD. With a supporting cast that includes Lou McGarity or Miff Mole on trombone, sometimes Ernie Caceres on baritone, and rhythm sections headed by pianist Gene Schroeder, Spanier and Russell romp their way through a variety of Dixieland warhorses and a few original blues. Among the many highlights are "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "I'm Sorry I Made You Cry," "That's a Plenty," "You're Lucky to Me," and "My Honey's Lovin' Arms." Although some Dixieland dates by the mid-'50s could be a bit tired and predictable, the music in the '40s usually had a fresh excitement and a joy that is difficult to resist; both Spanier and Russell rarely sounded better. Dixieland fans can consider this 1998 CD reissue to be essential.


Born: November 9, 1906 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

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

Muggsy Spanier was a predictable but forceful cornetist who rarely strayed far from the melody. Perfectly at home in Dixieland ensembles, Spanier was also an emotional soloist (equally influenced by King Oliver and Louis Armstrong) who was an expert at using the plunger mute. He started on cornet when he was 13, played with Elmer Schoebel's band in 1921, and first recorded in 1924. Spanier was a fixture in Chicago throughout the decade (appearing on several important early records) before joining...
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Mahattan Masters 1945, Muggsy Spanier
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