In view of the importance of these two volumes, I decided to combine both in a single review. I have been an active collector since the early 1950s and until these sessions were issued, I had only a single side by this great musician.
Trumpeter, Lee Collins (1901-1960), is considered by many to be one of the prime descendants of the style developed by Buddy Bolden and Bunk Johnson. Born in New Orleans a few short months after Louis Armstrong, the two shared the same instructor, Peter Davis. Armstrong studied under Davis at the Waif's Home while Collins attended evening lessons at the teacher's residence. Lee Collins received additional training from Professor Jim Humphrey, grandfather of Percy and Willie Humphrey, who were well known through their appearances with the Preservation Hall bands. Collins recorded sparsely under his own name but is heard in the recordings of Luis Russell, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and later with his own Jones and Collins Astoria Hot Eight in 1929.
The recordings presented in this CD offering are air shots from broadcasts originating from San Francisco's "Club Hangover" during the late summer of 1953. The Club Hangover was immortalized in the late Joe Sullivan's composition "Hangover Blues." The two volumes place Lee Collins in the company of pianists Ralph Sutton (1922 - ) and Don Ewell (1916-1983). Both pianists require little introduction to jazz enthusiasts. Sutton was a stalwart of the bands of Eddie Condon, George Wettling, Jack Teagarden and The World's Greatest Jazz Band. He still performs today as a solo act.
Don Ewell is a veteran of the bands of Muggsy Spanier and Sidney Bechet and later recorded solo albums for Good Time Jazz and other labels. Add a couple of great reed players to the mix in the persons of Pud Brown and Bob McCracken and the whole thing begins to cook.
The two CDs combine to include a total of 28 tracks, recorded before a live audience and result in some of the hottest jazz on record. Collins is a "young" 52 years of age at the time and is in fine form. The influence of Louis and Bunk is undeniable and most welcome. In spite of his few prior recordings, Lee Collins holds a major place in jazz history.
Some tunes must be mentioned specifically as they are quite outstanding. Among them are West End Blues, After You've Gone, Original Dixie Jass Band One Step, I've Found a New Baby, If I Could Be With You and I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say.
Lee Collins plays in a hot and punchy style and when working with the backing of Pud Brown and the pianists, the music becomes breathtaking. This is exciting material and highly recommended listening.
Thanks to Dr. Colin Bray for making his collected material available to Jazz Crusade.