Personnel includes: Jabbo Smith (cornet, vocal); Omer Simeon (clarinet, tenor saxophone).
Irrepressibly hot music, vintage Brunswick jazz, most of it dating from 1929, that year so filled with raucous creativity. Brace yourself for the grand interplay between Jabbo Smith's cornet and New Orleans clarinetist Omer Simeon. Banjo Ikey Robinson adds an entire dimension of his own, while pianist Cass Simpson solos with great dignity. Poor Cass ended up in a mental institution just a few years later following his sudden attempt to murder Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon. Here, under apparently more harmonious circumstances, Simpson creates the best solos he would ever put on to records. Hayes Alvis does wonderful things with his tuba, firmly nudging the band along through the "Little Willie Blues," "Sleepy Time Blues" and a succession of similarly solid numbers. Jabbo's band cooked a bit like Louis Armstrong's (whose didn't?) but also with some of its own mischief that sounded like nobody else's business. Comparisons could also be drawn with Henry "Red" Allen, both as horn player and vocalist. As 1929 progressed, Simpson shuffled off to meet with destiny and was replaced by Earl Frazier. Omer Simeon gradually augmented himself with alto and tenor saxophones, while Jabbo crossed over at times to the trombone. George James briefly filled in for Omer Simeon on June 9 then disappeared forever. Millard Robbins made noises in a deep clef using the bass saxophone, a seemingly strange choice in an ensemble anchored by tuba. Then, speaking of tubas, on August 8, Hayes Alvis was thrown from the saddle by Lawson Buford, who handled the big horn thereafter. Unfortunately, Jabbo Smith's Rhythm Aces made only a few more sides in 1929. The chronology, in fact, leaps to February 1938, when Jabbo led an eight-piece orchestra in devising four sides for the Decca label. "Rhythm in Spain" is a swinging thing, peculiarly arranged with periodic machine gun snare drum intrusions and hot solos that fit into the '30s small-group bag. The other three titles from this session are pumped full of sentimentality, with Putney Dandridge-styled vocals by an older and already more weathered Jabbo. "More Rain, More Rest" is the hottest of these. The ensemble is nicely bolstered by the presence of several saxophonists, who sound smooth in unison and tough as soloists. But how different it all feels from those Rhythm Aces' sides of 1929! There's no going back, except to listen. ~ arwulf arwulf