The dozen selections on New Orleans 1961–1964 by some of New Orleans finest musicians and ensembles were originally released as two LPs on the 77 label. Informative liner notes on the disc, which was produced by the knowledgeable Tom Stagg headed by such illustrious, traditional jazz leaders as trumpeters Kid Howard, Kid Sheik Cola, Kid Thomas and Peter Bocage, clarinetist Emile Barnes and more. Many of their “sidemen” also boast legendary names.
Hot numbers like Kid Howard’s rendition of the classic “Panama” fill the disc. It’s interesting to note the prominence of the banjo here as well, as on several cuts with banjoist George Guesnon turning up not only with Howard (and singing on “Slow and Easy Blues” too) but also with the Mighty Four, which jumps “I Can’t Escape From You” with trumpeter Lionel Ferbos paired with alto saxophonist Harold Dejan plus Alex Bigard on drums.
The pace slows on the simply titled “Original Blues,” performed by clarinetist Emile Barnes’ New Orleans Four, on which trumpeter Eddie Richardson takes on vocal duties. Piano triplets are favored here as offered by Joe James.
Trumpeter and violinist (don’t see many of those) Peter Bocage heads for the popular numbers by combining “Sentimental Journey” and “Paper Moon” to create a medley. Bocage’s Creole Serenaders are talent-packed with such noted names as trombonist Homer Eugene, clarinetist/saxophonist Louis Cottrell, pianist Joe Robichaux, guitarist Emanuel Sayles (who is perhaps even better known on banjo) and more.
The music flies off with trumpeter De De Pierce’s New Orleans Band rhythmically piloted by the drums (and cowbell) of Josiah “Cie” Frazier. “Hey, yeah,” someone enthusiastically yells in the excitement of the moment.
The music on New Orleans 1961–1964 was in mighty good hands as most of it was lovingly recorded by the brilliant Bill Russell and Dick Allen.