The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3092: Rare Cuts - Well Done Vol.6 -
Capt. John Handy/Jimmy Archey
Personnel: Capt. John Handy [alto sax/clarinet], Alvin Alcorn [trumpet], Hugh Watts [trombone], Dave "Fat Man" Williams [piano/vocal], Placide Adams [string bass], Chester Jones [drums]
Songs: Sugarfoot Stomp, Pork Chops, Make Me A Pallet On the Floor, Down Home Rag, Climax Rag, Blues of New Orleans, Perdido, Lou-Easy-An-I-A, Yellow Dog Blues

Personnel: Jimmy Archey [trombone], Henry Goodwin [trumpet], Benny Waters [reeds], Dick Wellstood [piano], Pops Foster [string bass], Tommy Benford [drums]
Songs: Dippermouth Blues, I'm Coming Virginia, The Mooche, St. Louis Blues, Just A Gigolo, Thou Swell

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3092: Rare Cuts - Well Done Vol.6 -
Capt. John Handy/Jimmy Archey - Internet Publication

Although John Handy (1900-1971) was only recorded late in his musical career, you can find plenty of his work on CD today. This one is different. In the twenties Handy was considered to be one of the top man on clarinet. They say he even was a strong competitor to Johnny Dodds. In 1928 he changed to the alto-sax and left the clarinet almost completely. The fact that he played the saxophone and a stomach ailment that kept him from playing for a certain time had as result that he was overlooked by the revival of the forties. You know about the old prejudice that a sax didn't have a place in a New Orleans band, a prejudice that went against all historical evidence. When he was finally recorded in 1960 by Grayson Mills, he was still stigmatised by the old bias and was featured on clarinet with Punch Miller. Although his work on these recordings was fine, musicians who had known and heard him on the instrument in the twenties said that he was much better then. After that first recording session he was almost exclusively heard on the alto. Therefore this session from 1965 is extremely welcome because Handy is featured on the clarinet (and in great shape) on several titles.
The pick-up band on this CD was put together by a British trombone player, Hugh Watts, whose main claim to fame must be his presence on this session. We should be grateful to the man because this was a most unusual and interesting combination. On most other sessions Handy was heard in combination with real old-stylers like Kid Thomas, Kid Sheik and Kid Clayton, the exception being of course his mainstream session on RCA Victor with Doc Cheatham on trumpet, still unissued on CD as far as I know. Handy fitted in with all of them without changing his style of playing. Here he is in company with one of the most sophisticated New Orleans trumpet players, Alvin Alcorn, who had played in the thirties with Don Albert's big band in San Antonio. On piano we have Dave Williams, who later would end up playing at Preservation Hall with the Kid Thomas band. He sings well on three tracks. On bass we have Placide, the best known of the Adams brothers, the others being Jerry and Justin, and son of pianist Dolly Adams. Some pretend that his playing is too "modern", but how do they explain George Lewis chose him for his famous hymn session? Drummer Chester Jones was best known as a brass band drummer (with the Eureka a.o.) but was no slouch with a drum set either, as you will hear on this record. Hugh Watts himself does a decent job on trombone, without having the class of his companions, but who would?
Anyway this unusual combination made some fine music that day and Handy shone on both his instruments. Listen to his break solo on clarinet on "Sugarfoot Stomp" (aka Dippermouth Blues) where Alvin plays his own version of King Oliver's famous solo. Listen to his sizzling hot solo on "Make Me A pallet On The Floor" and, above all, listen to his majestic alto sax opening "Blues Of New Orleans" with just the rhythm section. Handy was a great blues man indeed! Another favourite number for me is the in New Orleans not so often heard W.C.Handy classic, "Yellow Dog Blues". A really great session and a must for every true New Orleans lover.
Although I have the utmost respect and admiration for every member of the band we get as lagniappe on this CD, their music can't compete with the splendid Captain John tracks. For one thing I find their tempos too frantic or maybe I'm getting old. The sound quality is what you can expect from rare airshots like these, although I heard much worse. But, if you feel like me, who will prevent you to push number one on your remote control and listen to Handy once more and again and again?
- Marcel Joly

Boxell's Jazz Website - New Zealand

Captain John Handy is, perhaps, the man best remembered for making the alto-sax an accepted instrument in a traditional jazz band's frontline. As many alto players are also clarinettists, the question has oft been asked; 'Can the Capt. cut the mustard on the liquorish stick?' Well buy this CD and find out for yourself by listening to these 1965 recordings! The short answer is; yes. The longer answer? Well, he can play it and play it well, but not as well as others and not so well as he plays an alto. Complex eh! George Lewis he ain't as he plays the clarinet in the same style he plays his alto-sax. On some tracks, such as 'Sugarfoot Stomp', the Capt. plays as if he is very comfortable with the clarinet and then on others he seems to be not so comfortable. The worse track for me was 'Make Me A Pallet On The Floor' where he seemed to be trying to shove too many notes in and was failing get any lyrical 'hanging' notes which the clarinet does so well. But when Handy gets back onto the alto, then you really know why he is so beloved in jazz circles. If you want to hear him really blow a mean and wonderful alto then get onto 'Blues of New Orleans'. All in all, a very interesting set of tracks and a must for Handy fans and also tempting for those who like trumpeter Alvin Alcorn.
And now for something completely different: air shots of trombonist Jimmy Archey from 1952, recoded at Jimmy Ryan's Club, New York. To sum up these 6 tracks: nice jazz, shame about the sound quality. I listened first before reading the notes and was surprised to find later that they were from '52 as I had assumed they were from the 30s going by the sound. Now those out there who have brought vinyl across to CD via a PC know that you can filter out rumble & hiss and you can stalk and remove pops and bangs, but if the master is just well worn, you can't restore the fidelity, and that is what has happened here. Rather a shame, but it is worth the effort of putting up with the sound to get to the jazz beneath. The feature artist is Jimmy Archey, but I must admit I found him rather suppressed by Henry Goodwin on trumpet and Benny Walters on clarinet and soprano sax. Just one final word of caution: if you have a bass booster on your personal stereo or portable player - take it off. The recordings on the Achey tracks are very bassy. Now I am sure that encourages you to listen to fine string bass playing of Pops Foster and the driving drums (including kettle drums?) of Tommy Benford, but can be destructive to your ear drums at anything above low volume.
- Geoff Boxell

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