Personnel: Jackie Kelso (saxophone); Lou Donaldson (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); Big John Greer (tenor saxophone); Pee Wee Moore, Charlie Rouse (baritone saxophone); Jesse Drakes (trumpet); Buster Cooper (trombone); Jimmy Neely, Ernie Freeman, Ernie Freeman Combo, Freddie "Ready Freddie" Washington , Gildo Mahones, Freddy Washington , Kelly Owens, Lloyd Glenn (piano); Ram Ramirez (organ); Jimmy Butts (bass instrument); Lester Jenkins, John Godfrey Trio, Ron Jefferson (drums); June Davis, Jimmy Thomason (vocals); Rudy Rutherford (clarinet); Benjamin Brunswick (tenor saxophone); Harold Austin, Jack Parker (drums).
Liner Note Author: Bill Dahl.
Recording information: New York, NY (1951-1953).
An interesting selection of jazz-leaning jump blues tracks recorded in the early '50s for Larry Mead's L.A.-based Mambo and Vita labels and Tom Robinson's New York-based Atlas Records, Atlas Jazz Explosion consists mostly of tenor sax-led instrumentals that edge toward a hard R&B sound without actually getting there, and hint at jazz without really getting there, either, with the opener, Jackie Kelso's version of "Blue Moon," being fairly representative. There are also a couple of vocal tracks from June Davis, "I Am One of God's Children" and "8-9-10," and a strange organ-and-congas duet called "Congo Buggie" from Freddy Washington that sounds like it could almost be from the surf instrumental craze of a decade later. These are all obscure and rare tracks, and collectors of later-era jump blues will no doubt be delighted at this set, but casual listeners may well be more bewildered than anything else, since these sides seem to occupy a strange zone that is not quite jazz and not quite R&B, retaining some elements of both. ~ Steve Leggett