I Like Them All

My God, I just found this incredibly rare clip: a great performance by a breathtaking lineup – a loose take on “Jumpin’ with Symphony Sid.”

Pee Wee Russell on clarinet (the best ever), Charlie Shavers on trumpet (an absolute master, played with Bechet among countless others), J C Higginbotham on trombone (who played with Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Fletcher Henderson), Harry Sheppard on vibes, Willie “The Lion” Smith on piano (the stride master, teacher of Duke Ellington), Dickie Thompson on guitar, Vinnie Burke on bass, Sonny Greer on drums (Duke’s great drummer), and then most astonishingly of all the two absolute masters of the sax, with absolutely different styles, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young – who even trade fours at the end. For non-jazz-buffs, this would be the equivalent of stumbling on some rare footage of Bob Dylan and John Lennon singing with a band composed of Keith Richards, James Burton, Donald Duck Dunn, and Keith Moon – or something to that effect (since rockers don’t mix all that well, it’s still not even close to equivalent).

Pee Wee is brilliant – as usual. Charlie Shavers is exciting. And Lester Young – at death’s door – plays with that indescribable, riveting quality of his – so deeply human it almost comes out divine on the other side.

The following clip of an interview with Pres is for anybody out there who happens to be interviewing poetry candidates.

Q: “Which of the new saxophonists do you like?”

A: “I like them all. They all sound the same to me, because all of them went to Julliard . . .”

Q: “So, you don’t have any favorites?”

A: “No. I like them all.”

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