Louis Armstrong's tenure as second cornetist to the great King Oliver is one of jazz history's legendary apprenticeships, on par with the one Miles Davis served with Charlie Parker or Stephane Grappelli's with Django Reinhardt. Sadly, only a handful of recordings survive from this formative period in Armstrong's career. This LP features 18 of King Oliver's 1923 recordings with Armstrong, as well as a bonus appendix consisting of seven tracks recorded in 1924 by the Red Onion Jazz Babies under Armstrong's sole leadership (and featuring, on one number, a very young Alberta Hunter). The performances are as red-hot as you'd expect, and include two King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton duets.
Jettisoning not only the funk-metal rhythms of their earlier work but also long-time guitar hero and wacky eyewear model James B Martin, King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime for the most part pursued a more back-to-basics garage sound that slotted in with the post-grunge environment of 1995. The album holds up well today, with Mike Patton achieving new heights of visceral howling on the likes of Cuckoo For Caca, but among the bonus tracks there's little to get excited about other than the tragic-comedy Bee Gees cover - I Started A Joke.
The Best Of King Curtis 1952-1961 - Saxophone titan King Curtis gets the stellar showcase he deserves on Dave Penny’s latest career-defining set for Fantastic Voyage, continuing the roll which has seen the label raise the benchmark for knowledgeable, expertly-annotated compilations. Over three discs and nearly 100 tracks, Wail Man Wail! traverses the unmistakable tones of the late Curtis Ousley after he arrived from Texas in New York City in 1952, winning amateur night at Harlem’s Apollo before embarking on a recording career which took him to several seminal independent labels and bands with the likes of Lester Young and Lionel Hampton. He settled in New York for 17 years, declaring himself King Curtis and quickly making a name for roaring instrumentals and enhancing countless sessions.
The phrase "very best of" in an album title usually indicates a highly selective collection of an artist's career highlights.