The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3039: Jazz Nocturne 2 - Bunk & Bechet in Boston

Personnel: Bunk Johnson [tp], Sidney Bechet [ssx], Ray Parker [pn], Pops Foster [sbs], George Thompson [dm]

Songs: Royal Garden Blues, I'm Confessin', Careless Love, Summertime, I Know That You Know, Sweet Georgia Brown, Sleepy Time Down South, Sobbin' Blues, Pistol Packin' Mama, Dear Old Southland, Boogie Woogie Muscat Ramble, Oh Didn't He Ramble, Bunk Interviews.


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Reviews for:
JCCD-3039: Jazz Nocturne 2 - Bunk & Bechet in Boston

Jazz Journal International International - British

The first tracks here are from the evening performance following on from the rehearsal which featured on Volume 1. Sad to say, Bunk's playing here is well below his standard of the afternoon, when he sounded interested and involved. Here, impeded by a balance which, admittedly, does him no favours (or maybe he was blowing away from the microphone deliberately!), for much of the time he provides little more than a restrained obbligato to Bechet's exuberant soprano saxophone playing. Bunk is more prominent, and better balanced, on the second session, but his tone is rather sour and his phrasing approximate and often hesitant while Bechet, once more, carries all before him. To be fair, the trumpeter often sounds genuinely perplexed about how to fit in with his partner, who does very little to accommodate him. It isclearthatthe whole enterprise was ill-fated from the start because of the two old friends' mutually abrasive personalities. The final two titles are made more interesting by the replacement of the rather uninspired Parker and Thompson by the expert stride piano of Hank Duncan and the resonant drumming of Freddie Moore, experienced musicians both and more in keeping with the splendid work of Pops Foster who virtually kept the rhythm going all by himself on the other sessions. The two titles recorded from that evening comprise Bunk's valediction to Boston, and it sounds as if he couldn't wait to get away from the place.
I presume that the broadcasts of March 25 and 27, featuring Bunk in a less despondent mood, are included on Volume 2 of this series, which I have not yet heard; nor have I heard Volume 4, but the following one finds Peter Bocage on more assertive form than he was earlier in the month, providing an effectively convoluted lead which Bechet is content to work along with Brad Gowans's quirky valve trombone makes a welcome addition to the mixture on the middle session, although the muddy sound which mars the clarity throughout somewhat spoils his contribution as well of that of Bocage; Sidney's power, of course, puts him at a distinct advantage in such circumstances, but from what one can hear the trumpeter seems to be keeping his end up manfully. It must have been quite a strain for him, however, and he was relieved to return to New Orleans after one further evening's broadcasting.
It is good to have this music, imperfect as it may be in some ways, on CD; but it is a pity that the broadcasts have not been presented complete in chronological order, and it is also a pity that more has not been done to improve the overall sound and, particularly, that of the final session on Volume 5, which is taken from very noisy masters.
- Christopher Hillman

Cadence Magazine - U. S. A.

Big Bill Bissonnette on his Jazz Crusade label has released five CDs ihal are drawn from the Bunk Johnson and Peter Bocage appearances but not the superior Johnny Windhurst dates. (4) (subtitled Jazz Nocturne 3) features the Bunk version of the band and is drawn from the broadcasts of Apr. 3 (St. Louis Blues/ Ain't Misbehavin'/ 1 Never Knew/ Never No Lament/ Darktown Strutters Ball/ Basin Street Blues/ Wang Wang Blues), Apr. 5 (Willie The Weeper/ 1 Found A New Baby/ 12th Street Rag/ Embraceable You/The World Is Waiting For the Sunrise/ Memphis Blues/ 1 Ain'l Got Notody) and Apr. 7 (Sleepy Time Down South/ 1 Know That You Know). The Apr. 7 session has pianist Hank Duncan and drummer Freddie Moore filling in for Parker and Thompson. Bechet is in typically wondrous form throughout while Johnson is good in spots, weak in others. Although Bechet tries to lei Bunk be the lead voice, any time The trumpeter falters, Bechet jumps right in and takes over the melody. This shifting back and forth by Bechet between the melody and the harmony (atong with Bunk's erratic playing) leads to constant conflicts; sometimes both horns briefly state the melody, sometimes neither! The battle between their different approaches (Bechet is hyper and forceful while Bunk is laid-back) is intriguing but it is obvious why this situation could not last for long. Bechet sometimes plays as if Johnson were not even on stage. (Total Time: 59:44)
Jazz Nocturne 5 is the second of two CDs taken from the Bechet-Bocage broadcasts. Peter Bocage was more consistent at this point than Bunk was and it is a pity that he was not otherwise documented during the era; he mostly appears on records in the 1920's with Piron's Orchestra and in the '60's when he was way past his prime. The May 10 broadcast (Chinatown My Chinatown/ There'll Be Some Changes Made/ Panama) finds Bocage doing his best in support of the dominant Bechet. The May 15 program (St. Louis Blues/ Marie/ On Tne Sunny Side Of The Street/ I'm Coming Virginia/ High Society/ Someday Sweetheart/1 Got Rhythm) is a bit ditlerent because, due to Pops Foster's absence, it was decided to use Brad Gowans on valve trombone, as if he could fill in for the missing bass! Actually Gowans' presence makes the ensembles more exciting but, without Foster, drummer Thompson was inspired lo bang away excessively on his bass drum and pianist Parker's striding is purposely heavier. Despite that, the music is generally (ine and it makes one wish that Bechet had retained Gowans on the May 17 date (At Sundown/The Sheik O[ Araby/Memphis Blues/Always/All Alone/Stumbiin'/ Dear Old Southland/You're Some Pretty Doll/ After You've Gone/ Sister Kate Tolal Time. 62:30). Without the second horn, Bocage is once again easily overshadowed by Bechel and it is not surprising to learn that the trumpeter soon decided to go back to New Orleans.

AMG *** Review - U. S. Jazz Guide

The music on this CD, the second of five discs put out by the Jazz Crusade label, traces the short-lived quintet co-led by Sidney Bechet and Bunk Johnson in 1945. Unfortunately, Johnson's drinking led to the trumpeter being erratic and soon leaving the band, but Bechet (on clarinet and soprano) is in excellent form and there are some good moments on this CD. The co-leaders are backed by pianist Ray Parker, bassist Pops Foster, and drummer George Thompson on such numbers as "Royal Garden Blues," "I Know That You Know," and "Muskrat Ramble." The music on this disc is taken from three radio broadcasts and, in addition, there are two brief interviews. Nothing too essential but an interesting acquisition for Bechet and Johnson fans.
- Scott Yanow

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