Willie Lewis invaded Europe in 1925 as a member of Sam Wooding's explosive jazz orchestra, making hot records and stunning audiences throughout Berlin, Barcelona, and Paris. When Wooding's organization disintegrated, Lewis returned to New York in 1931 and assembled a group of musicians for the purpose of a brief European tour the following year. Willie Lewis & His Entertainers played the Merry Grill in Brussels, and made one wild phonograph recording. A 13-piece orchestra composed almost entirely of European musicians and augmented with a vaudevillian vocal quartet (including Lewis himself) presents "Who Taught You That?" This is funny stuff, something like the frantic singing heard on certain records by Sam Wooding, Fats Waller & His Buddies, or Bix Beiderbecke with Paul Whiteman…
Essence, released in 1962, allows space for improvising around the charts provided by vibraphonist Gary McFarland. Arranged by Lewis, it featuring an array of jazz greats including Eric Dolphy, Phil Woods, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Jimmy Giuffre, and Jim Hall.
This is one of pianist John Lewis' most rewarding albums outside of his work with the Modern Jazz Quartet. Three numbers (including a remake of "Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West") showcase his piano in a quartet with guitarist Jim Hall, bassist George Duvivier, and drummer Connie Kay. A 15-and-a-half-minute rendition of "Body and Soul" has one of tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves' finest solos, while "Afternoon in Paris" features a diverse cast with trumpeter Herb Pomeroy, Gunther Schuller on French horn, tenor man Benny Golson, baritonist Jimmy Giuffre, and guitarist Jim Hall; altoist Eric Dolphy cuts everyone.
A really cool pairing of two relatively obscure and always overlooked early- to mid-'60s LPs by Jerry Lee Lewis that, respectively, capture him as a country crooner (and quite a good one) and a high-energy country-rocker with a bluesy edge. The original albums never sold any significant numbers to speak of, with the result that the material will essentially be new to all but the most hardcore fans. None of it is bad and a large portion of it is not only good but impressive, showing some sides to Lewis' talent that weren't always obvious amid the rippling ivories of the Sun Records hits.
This release features some of the best live recordings by the celebrated Benny Goodman Sextet featuring the legendary Charlie Christian. Taken from rare radio broadcasts, they present the magic of Christians guitar during his short-lived three year music career, before he succumbed to tuberculosis in early 1942. As a bonus, this edition presents four tracks taken from a jam session at Minneapolis Harlem Breakfast Club, presenting the Jerry Jerome Quartet with Charlie Christian on electric guitar (including extended solos), Frankie Hines on piano and the great Oscar Pettiford on bass (no drums).