Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Basin Street Six playing Strictly Dixie - Mercury Records

The Basin Street Six playing Strictly Dixie
with Pete Fountain and George Girard

1957 Mercury Records MG 20151 High Fidelity (issued in Mono Only)

Side One
1. Panama
2. Sunday
3. Hindustan
4. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
5. Melancholy Rhapsody
6. My Inspiration

Side Two
1. That's A Plenty
2. Tin Roof Blues
3. Muskrat Ramble
4. Farewell Blues
5. When It's Sleepy Time Down South
6. Basin Street Stomp

Liner Notes:

Strictly Dixie - The Basin Street Six featuring Pete Fountain and George Girard

Recorded in Chicago, IL, September 19, 1951 Originally released in 1957, these liner notes were added to copies pressed in the 1960's.)

The Basin Street Six:
George Girard trumpet
Joe Rotis trombone
Pete Fountain clarinet
Roy Zimmerman piano
Bunny Franks bass
Charlie Duke drums

It was rather ironic when Pete Fountain walked off with the Down Beat International Jazz Critics' poll as new star for 1960, because the goateed clarinetist has been a professional musician of stature among the cognoscenti for over a decade. As evidenced by this album, the greatness was always there. For here we have the Fountain clarinet recorded around the mid-Fifties with the late George Girard and the Basin Street Six. Proof that Fountain was great even in the early years is found in these grooves, wherein leader Girard and sideman Fountain share almost equally in the solo portions.

And, typically, it's the drive and enthusiasm that catapulted Fountain internationally in 1960. The same can be said of his early clarinet. Even in the ensemble portions of this record, you'll find Fountain the standout, despite the fact that he leaves the high-register pyrotechnics for other reed contemporaries and just blows with the Dixieland group.

Fountain, on this record, seems to be extremely pleased with the repertoire and well he should be, for it's the heart of Bourbon St. standards. Too, there's a fluid quality in the whole performance which indicates the hours and years the Basin Street Six worked together.

Though Fountain made it big when Lawrence Welk surprised the music world by hiring this swinging clarinet on a steady basis, it's very easy to see why Fountain had made his mark with the knowing long before the bubbling maestro inked him to a contract.

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