The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3019: Crazy Clarinets - Raucus Reeds -
Wilton Crawley / Fess Williams with J.R. Morton

Personnel: Wilton Crawley [cl], Fess Williams [c/asx], Jelly Roll Morton, Luis Russell, Hank Duncan [pn], Henry "Red" Allen, George Temple, Kenneth Roan [tp], David "Jelly" James [tb], Charlie Holmes, Lockwood Lewis, Felix Gregory [rds], Pops Foster [sbs], Paul Barbarin, Sonny Greer [dm]

Songs:  Snake Hip Dance, She's Driving Me Wild, You Oughta See My Gal, Futuristic Blues, Keep Your Business to Yourself, She's Got What I Need, Big Time Woman, I'm Her Papa She's My Mama, New Crawley Blues, She Saves Her Sweetest Smiles for Me, A Few Riffs, Hot Town, Friction, Kentucky Blues, Do Shuffle, Snag Nasty, Big Shot, Musical Camp Meeting, You Can't Go Wrong, Goin' to Getcha, Slide Mr. Jelly, She's Still Dizzy.

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3019: Crazy Clarinets - Raucus Reeds -
Wilton Crawley / Fess Williams with J.R. Morton

American Rag - U. S. A.

The adjective "gas pipe." as applied to the playing of older-style reedmen (usually clarinetists), typically means approaching the horn essentially for laughs, using effects that are the antithesis of ihe customary mode of jazz reed work. Gaspipers go for piercing lone, shrill peeping, clipped staccato notes {often slap-tongued), and lines spiced with growls, shrieks and half-oiil-of-conlrol flurries.
If you want a sample. Jazz Crusade - without making any attempt to deny that this music is more com than jazz - gives you 23 tracks by (wo "masters" (iftliat is the word) of gaspipe, Wilton Crawley and [•'ess Williams. For the benefit of gaspipe complelisls (what n ghastly thought!), the Crawley sides include all ten issued cuts (per Rust) for Victor from 1929-30 along with an alternative take of "I'm Her Papa, She's My Mama," while we get all issued Williams sides from 4/17/29 (except "Here Tis"), 4/22/29, 5/15/29 and 12/6/29, plus "Musical'Camp Meeting," "She's Still Dizzy" and "You Can't Go Wrong."
Crawley fielded a standard Dixieland instrumentation adorned by some of the genre's greatest stars (Red Alien, Jelly Roll Morion, Pops Foster, Paul Barbarin), but gave them loo little spate, dominating many numbers with his fmgemails-on-the-blackboard slickwork, a little of which goes an awfully long way with me. Ifyou can make it through to the Williams cuts, you'll arrive at a basic ten-piece 1920s dance band thai has a well-disciplined reed section and a bouncy two-beat rhythm.
Williams' own cackling on clarinet and alto is only marginally easier to take than Crawley's spasmodic output. Also, Williams allocates the rccd section and brass soloisls a larger portion of the spotlight. The last seven rides, in fact, move along quite nicely when Williams isn't on stage.
- Tex Wyndham


Jazz Journal International - U. S. A.

Let it be said that this album is not for the faint hearted, nor the musical purist without a sense of humour! Wilton Crawley was a vaudeville entertainer who sang and specialised in making dreadful noises on the clarinet, unsurpassed in the history of hokum reed playing. After a series of solo recordings for Okeh, Crawley was recorded by Victor in the company of some very distinguished jazz musicians.
The identity of some of the participants remains unresolved, but Victor obviously drew from the ranks of their established top artists-Luis Russell and his orchestra. Duke Ellington, the Washboard Rhythm Kings, Jelly Roll Mor-ton etc-to provide accompaniment for Crawley.
Don't be put off-there is much fine jazz on these sides from Jelly Roll, Henry Alien, Pops Foster, Teddy Bunn, Charlie Holmes and probably Johnny Hodges, whom Freddie Jenkins claimed was present on part of the session of December 2 1929.
Stanley 'Fess' Williams also played eccentric clarinet and alto sax. The Royal Flush Orchestra was resident for several years at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, where they were very popular with the dancers and acquitted themselves well in 'battles' against Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington and McKinney's Cotton Pickers amongst others.
The Royal Flush Orchestra recorded nearly 40 titles for Victor, a dozen of which are included in this compilation. Exceptionally well-recorded at source, the Royal Flush Orchestra really bursts out at you with some great Harlem music. Outstanding tracks are Snag Nasty and Slide Mr Jelly Slide, with superb stride piano from Hank Duncan and fierce trombone from Jelly James.
This is an album dedicated to the hilarious musical mayhem of two leading practitioners of reed hokum, with much excellent jazz on the way. Audio quality is first rate. John R.T. Davies remastering coupled with near to maximum playing time makes this a real value-for-money CD. Congratulations to Bill Bissonnette and Jazz Crusade for making this out-of-the-ordinary compilation available.
- Pat Hawes


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

In the 1920s, there was a vaudevillian style of clarinet playing utilized by some of the reed specialists. Starting with Ted Lewis at the end of the previous decade, these musicians were highly expressive, often very erratic, and emphasized emotional sounds over musicianship. Some were better than others (Lewis was particularly weak), but no one was in the same class as Wilton Crawley, who could make his clarinet laugh, squawk and practically talk, often to hilarious effect. This 1996 CD from Jazz Focus has 11 selections featuring Crawley with such luminaries as trumpeter Red Allen, altoist Charlie Holmes, guitarist Teddy Bunn and pianist Jelly Roll Morton. Two numbers without Morton ("Snake Hip Dance" and "She's Driving Me Wild") had rarely been reissued previously, while "Big Time Woman" and "I'm Her Papa, She's My Papa" (the latter heard in two versions) are classics of their kind. The second half of this CD has 12 numbers that serve as a sampling of the 1929-30 output of clarinetist/altoist Fess Williams' Royal Flush Orchestra. Although not quite in Crawley's league, Fess was also suitably crazy; he had a hot band, and his alto solos in particular were quite colorful and nutty. Although strictly for selective tastes, this music is quite enjoyable for listeners with a strong sense of humor.
- Scott Yanow


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