Edmond Hall: Profoundly Blue - His 22 Finest 1937-1944
This profile of clarinettist Edmond Hall (1901-1967) – one of the greatest of the New Orleans jazz giants – makes a superb addition to the Retrospective jazz list. Hall’s individual style was instantly recognizable, with its broad, fast vibrato. His was hot, fiery music, full of drive and biting attack – yet he possessed a wonderful feeling for the blues.
Profoundly Blue presents a portrait of Edmond Hall’s best work during his prime years, from 1937 to 1944. The title track is one of the altogether remarkable performances of his 1941 Celeste Quartet with Meade Lux Lewis and Charlie Christian (Jammin’ In Four). He is then heard with bands led by Billie Holiday (Me, Myself And I), Lionel Hampton (My Buddy), Red Allen (Down In Jungle Town), Zutty Singleton (King Porter Stomp) and Coleman Hawkins with Art Tatum (Esquire Blues).
A dozen tracks emanate from the great sessions Edmond Hall had leading his own groups in 1943 and 1944: his Blue Note Jazz Men with Vic Dickenson and James P. Johnson (High Society), his Sextet with Emmett Berry (The Man I Love), his All Star Quintet with Red Norvo (Rompin’ in 44), his Swingtet with the great baritone sax of Harry Carney (It’s Been So Long) and finally his Quartet with the elegant Teddy Wilson (Caravan). Benny Goodman himself was once quoted as saying: “For jazz clarinet give me Ed Hall – his feel for hot music is perfect!”
Profoundly Blue 1937-1944 from the Retrospective label does does an excellent job of summing up an important seven-year period in Edmond Hall’s career. The clarinetist takes a solo on “Me, Myself And I” from an early Billie Holiday session, is one of the stars on dates with Lionel Hampton, Henry “Red” Allen and Zutty Singleton, and is showcased on the highpoints from his own sessions for Blue Note and Commodore. There are also three numbers from his most famous recording date of the era, performances with his Celeste Quartet that team him with Charlie Christian (the great electric guitarist’s only date on acoustic guitar), boogie-woogie pianist Meade Lux Lewis (heard swinging on celeste) and bassist Israel Crosby. Other key sidemen featured along the way include tenor-saxophonists Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins, trombonists Benny Morton and Vic Dickenson, trumpeter Sidney DeParis, baritonist Harry Carney, and pianists James P. Johnson, Eddie Heywood, Teddy Wilson and even Art Tatum (on “Esquire Blues”). Whether exploring a sophisticated swing tune, several blues or “High Society,” Edmond Hall, who in later years worked with Eddie Condon and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars, is heard throughout this CD in his early prime.
NIGHTS AT THE TURNTABLE By Scott Yanow