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Any Comments on H.R.S. Sessions?

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The sound quality is very good on this set, much better than any other cd release of the material that I have heard.

There are some real gems in this set, and overall the quality of the sessions is very good to excellent. I've enjoyed mine since I bought it, near to its first release.

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This set for me came as quite a surprise. I got it without knowing any of the music and generally being more interested in the music beginning with bop.

As Lon said: some great music, much good or very good stuff. One of those collections Mosaic do the best.

You will meet many of the same players in different line-ups, which brings to the set sort of a continuity. Then, you will hear soloists you might never have heard of, but after hearing them here, you possibly would like to get more...

I can only recommend this set!


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This is a great set! As Lon pointed out...the sound quality is excellent and far surpasses previous issues - including ANY vinyl issue of this I've heard, in addition to previous cd issues. Musically...it's wonderful. Riverside issued some of these on vinyl in the 60's and they came out under the banner "Giants Of Small Band Swing" - a very fitting name for this stuff.

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Looks like you've made your decision. But here's another thumbs up anyways. I really enjoy this set. Lots of great music that will probably never see the light of day again.

Once you digest this one, let me plant a seed in your thoughts - Capitol set.

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Here's another thought, if you enjoy vinyl that is - The Ventura/Phillips set is still available and is a beauty, IMO

Vinyl is one of my main addictions. Thanks for the tip on the Capitol, it's on my list. I do have the Ventura/Phillips, and it is one of my all-time favorites (it really got me interested in the small-group swing thing). The H.R.S. is definitely targeted for purchase now...


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During the last big Mosaic sale, I was able to get almost the entire Classic Capitol Jazz Sessions on vinyl and a pretty nice discount to boot. You could check to see what they currently have available if you are flirting with that set and also are a vinyl fan.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------P.S. The Maynard Ferguson set is finally OOP.

Edited by Out2Lunch
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  • 8 months later...

Although I'd not want anything less... sometimes it seems that the regular Mosaic box sets include too much music. I purchased the HRS Sessions about a year ago. I listened to the first couple of disks, liked what I heard, and put the set away.

Tonight, for whatever reason, I decided to pull the set off my shelf to remind myself of what it sounded like. I know almost nothing about Trummy Young (although I've heard his name). But, damn! Trummy tears it up on the vocals on Ooh Baby, You Knock Me Out.

Trummy, you knock me out.

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  • 4 months later...

This one is at the top of my "next Mosaic purchases" list by now (alongside the Vee Jay Shorter/Morgan and the Capitol Jazz sets).

How couldn´t, with this top-notch line-ups? (plenty of Ellingtonians and Basie-ites, that is ;) )

(A) Pee Wee Russell's Rhythmakers

Max Kaminsky (tp), Dicky Wells (tb), Pee Wee Russell (cl), Al Gold (ts), James P. Johnson (p), Freddie Green (g), Wellman Braud ( b ), Zutty Singleton (d,vcl-1).

NYC August 31, 1938

( B ) The Bechet-Spanier Big Four

Muggsy Spanier (cor), Sidney Bechet (ss-1, cl-2) ,Carmen Mastren (g), Wellman Braud ( b ).

NYC, March 28, 1940

© Rex Stewart's Big Seven

Rex Stewart (cor), Lawrence Brown (tb), Barney Bigard (cl), Billy Kyle (p), Brick Fleagle (g), Wellman Braud ( b ), Dave Tough (d).

NYC July 23, 1940

(D) Jack Teagarden's Big Eight

Rex Stewart (cor), Jack Teagarden (tb,vcl-1), Barney Bigard (cl), Ben Webster (ts), Billy Kyle (p), Brick Fleagle (g), Billy Taylor ( b ), Dave Tough (d).

NYC December 15, 1940

(E) Brick Fleagle's Orchestra

Robert Sprentall, Frank DeMartino, Jack Lambert (tp), Harry Walters, Eddie Anderson, Irving Sharp (tb), Artie Baker or Bill Vitale, James Clifford (as, cl), Stewie MacKay, Eddie Lichenstein (ts), Sam Lambie (bari), Conrad Lanoue (p), Ralph Tressel (g), Francis Palmer ( b ), Vic Engel (d), Brick Fleagle (arr), Annette Warren (vcl-1).

NYC, May, 1945

(F) Brick Fleagle's Orchestra

Pee Wee Erwin, Robert Sprentall, Frank DeMartino, Jack Lambert (tp), Norman Conley, Eddie Anderson, Chuck Maxon (tb), Bill Vitale, James Clifford (as), Stewie MacKay, Eddie Lichenstein (ts), John Haluko (bari), Charles Engel (p), Ralph Tressel (g, b-1), Francis Palmer ( b ), Hal Marquess (d), Brick Fleagle (arr).

NYC,July 19 or 25, 1945

(G) Sandy Williams' Big Eight

Joe Thomas (tp), Sandy Williams (tb), Johnny Hodges (as), Harry Carney (bari), Jimmy Jones (p), Brick Fleagle (g), Sid Weiss ( b ), Shelly Manne (d).

NYC, November 5, 1945

(H) J.C. Higginbotham's Big Eight

Sidney DeParis (tp), J.C. Higginbothan (tb), Tab Smith (as), Cecil Scott (ts), Jimmy Jones (p), Brick Fleagle (g), Billy Taylor ( b ), Dave Tough (d).

NYC, December 21, 1945

(I) Jimmy Jones' Big Eight

Joe Thomas (tp), Lawrence Brown (tb), Otto Hardwick (as), Ted Nash (ts), Harry Carney (bari), Jimmy Jones (p), Billy Taylor ( b ), Shelly Manne (d).

NYC, January 10, 1946

(J) Joe Thomas' Big Six

Joe Thomas (tp), Lem Davis (as), Ted Nash (ts), Jimmy Jones (p), Billy Taylor ( b ), Denzil Best (d),Babe Mathews-1 (vcl)

NYC, February 15, 1946

(K) Harry Carney's Big Eight

Joe Thomas (tp), Lawrence Brown (tb), Otto Hardwick (as), Ted Nash (ts,vl-1), Harry Carney (bari, b cl-1), Jimmy Jones (p), Billy Taylor ( b ), Jimmy Crawford (d)

NYC, March 18, 1946

(L) Dickie Wells' Big Seven

George Treadwell (tp), Dicky Wells (tb), Budd Johnson (ts), Cecil Scott (bari), Jimmy Jones (p), Al McKibbon ( b ), Jimmy Crawford (d), Sarah Vaughan-1 (vcl).

NYC, March 21, 1946

(M) Sandy Williams' Big Eight

Pee Wee Erwin (tp), Sandy Williams (tb), Tab Smith (as), Cecil Scott (ts, bari) Jimmy Jones (p,celeste), Brick Fleagle(g), Sid Weiss ( b ), Denzil Best (d).

NYC, June 3, 1946

(N) Buck Clayton's Big Four

Buck Clayton (tp), Scoville Brown (cl), Tiny Grimes (g), Sid Weiss ( b ).

NYC, June 26, 1946

(O) Buck Clayton's Big Eight

Buck Clayton (tp), Trummy Young, Dicky Wells (tb), George Johnson (as), Billy Taylor (p, celeste), Brick Fleagle (g), Al McKibbon ( b ), Jimmy Crawford (d).

NYC, July 24, 1946

(P) Trummy Young's Big Seven

Buck Clayton (tp), Trummy Young (tb), Buster Bailey (cl), George Johnson (as), Jimmy Jones (p), John Levy ( b ), Cozy Cole (d).

NYC, September 3, 1946

(Q) Billy Kyle's Big Eight

Dick Vance (tp), Trummy Young (tb,vcl-1), Buster Bailey (cl), Lem Davis (as), John Hardee (ts), Billy Kyle (p), John Simmons ( b ), Buddy Rich (d).

NYC, September 11, 1946

® Russell Procope's Big Six

Harold "Shorty" Baker (tp), Russell Procope (as), John Hardee (ts), Billy Kyle (p), John Simmons ( b ), Denzil Best (d).

NYC, late '46

(S) Brick Fleagle's Rhythmakers

Rex Stewart (cor), Billy Taylor (p), Brick Fleagle (g), Chocolate Williams ( b , vcl-1), Jimmy Crawford (d).

T) Billy Taylor Quartet

Billy Taylor (p,vo-1), John Collins (g), John Levy ( b ), Denzil Best (d)

NYC, c. June, 1947

(U) Rex Stewart's Big Four

Rex Stewart (cor), Billy Kyle (p), John Levy ( b ), Cozy Cole (d).

NYC, c.July 1947

(V) Jimmy Jones' Big Four

Budd Johnson (ts), Jimmy Jones (p), Al Hall ( b ), Denzil Best (d)

NYC, c.August 1947

(W) Billy Taylor 's Big Four

Bernie Leighton (p), Tony Mottola (g), Billy Taylor ( b ), Morey Feld (d)/

NYC, September 19, 1947

(X) Billy Taylor Quartet

Billy Taylor (p), Herman Mitchell (g), John Levy ( b ), Denzil Best (d)

NYC, September 26, 1947

Any further comment on this set and/or the sessions included is highly appreciated!

Edited by EKE BBB
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It looks like you've already decided to get this, but I'll just add my positive vote. I'd heard pieces of this set on OJC, but the sound quality on the Mosaic is much, much better. The music runs the gamut from good to great. When I ordered this set I was expecting a lot. When I listened to it over a few days period, I got even more than I expected. I don't think that you'll have any regrets once you hear the music.

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It looks like you've already decided to get this, but I'll just add my positive vote. I'd heard pieces of this set on OJC, but the sound quality on the Mosaic is much, much better. The music runs the gamut from good to great. When I ordered this set I was expecting a lot. When I listened to it over a few days period, I got even more than I expected. I don't think that you'll have any regrets once you hear the music.

Thanks for the reply, paul.

And yes, I´ve already decided to pick this one up... when my budget allows it! ^_^

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To my ears, this set gets better the further you dig into it. The first disk starts with, what is to me, a New Orleans style jazz sound. As you progress, from disk to disk, the set becomes more Ellingtonian. It's interesting and enjoyable, while listening to the HRS box, to follow the music through its paces. To begin with the New Orleans oriented sound, and observe the growth of the music as the influence of Ellington becomes more and more apparent.

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To anybody on the fence about this set....GET IT ! It's as representative of small band jazz in the period it covers (about 1938 to 1945) as anything else out there and the overall level of playing is consistently great. The next step in small group jazz was bebop and this set demonstrates (to my satisfaction, anyway) that bebop was a very logical outgrowth of what preceeded it.

Then start seeking the Commodore material in whatever form you can get it.

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For those who may be too lazy to go the Mosaic site...




We've written before about our natural affinity for music preservationists - people whose lead we try to follow in keeping the music's evolution clear, and the music itself available.

Sixty-five years ago, the same principles that drive us at Mosaic led a group of dedicated writers, musicians and music collectors to form the Hot Record Society.

Pure Jazz.

Back then, they saw the threat to jazz as the more popular forms of dance music that were often lumped together with jazz in people's minds. To their ears, jazz was something purer and less polished. And they were determined to keep it alive.

To that end, the group (including John Hammond, Charles Edward Smith, George Frazier, Marshall Stearns and Steve Smith) opened a record shop, published one of the first jazz magazines ("The Rag"), and, most notably, re-issued records that kept rare sides by King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke and Earl Hines available.

After watching Commodore Record Store owner Milt Gabler launch his independent jazz label, Steve Smith caught the bug and created HRS Originals in 1938. He started, fittingly, with Pee Wee Russell leading Max Kaminsky, Dicky Wells, Zutty Singleton, and James P. Johnson. It was the first of over 100 titles that focuses on traditional jazz and small-group swing.

Classic Bechet, and More.

The next session, the Sidney Bechet-Muggsy Spanier Big Four in 1940, is generally acknowledged as the crown jewel in Bechet's considerable recorded legacy. Later that year, HRS recorded the Jack Teagarden Big Eight sessions with Ben Webster; and the Rex Stewart Big Seven with Lawrence Brown, Barney Bigard and Dave Tough.

After a five-year hiatus, recording resumed in 1945 with a couple of uncharacteristic, but stunning, big band sessions. They also made some great quartet recordings with the Buck Clayton Big Four that featured Tiny Grimes and no drummer, and a group called Jimmy Jones's Big Four with Budd Johnson and Denzil Best.

But the label's main fare was wonderfully-arranged, tightly-executed, small-group septets and octets that swung like mad. The cast of recurring leaders and soloists included trumpeters Clayton, Stewart, Joe Thomas and Sidney DeParis; trombonists Sandy Williams, Trummy Young, J.C. Higganbotham, Dicky Wells and Lawrence Brown; reedmen Johnny Hodges, Otto Hardwick, Russell Procope, Tab Smith, John Hardee and Harry Carney; pianists Jones, Billy Kyle, and Billy Taylor; bassists Billy Taylor and John Simmons; and drummers Best, Cozy Cole, Shelley Manne, Dave Tough, and Buddy Rich.

Still Hot. And Now, Complete.

You could look forever for the original 78s. Re-issues on LP and CD often have been poor in sound quality, and incomplete. But Mosaic gives due to these early preservationists by putting together all 124 performances on 6 CDs. And we've even included 11 unissued alternate takes.

There's also a transcription date with arranger/bandleader Brick Fleagle (HRS's mid-forties musical director) whose rehearsal band of the day drew much acclaim from the press.

The transfers were superbly done by Jack Towers, John R.T. Davies, Malcolm Addey and Ted Kendall, who used the best sources available.

Extremely rare photographs from the actual sessions by Charles Peterson, Dunc Butler and Irvin Glaser and an in-depth essay by Dan Morgenstern make this an invaluable addition to the Mosaic catalog. And to your collection. Twenty-two points, plus triple-word-score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game's over. I'm outta here.

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  • 1 year later...

After having this box arrive last Thursday I'm now entering my 2nd orbit with the set. The main draw was Bechet-Spanier & Teagarden, and of course the joy of discovering new music. As usual with Mosaic sets the latter part of the equation didn't disappoint. I've been especially taken with Rex Stewart and the baritone of Harry Carney, both of whom pop up all over the discs. It was also a thrill to finally hear some Budd Johnson as previous attempts to pick up his titles on OJC failed during my "before they go away" runs on the catalog. There's much more to love about this set too, as I'm sure more spins will reveal.

An added bonus is my partner said she enjoys it too. "I like it more than that Miles Davis kind of music you play" (quickly trying to be diplomatic about any slight of Miles.) Having not played much Miles in awhile (other than a shuffle of the 1st 4 discs of the Jack Johnson box when she was away) I believe she meant "hard bop" for "Miles kind of music." No matter, it's good to make the other ears in the house happy too. (The cat is happiest (or craziest) with piano played fast.)

I've been told (or warned :P) that the H.R.S. sessions is a good starter set for the mammoth Capitol box. I must admit my Mosaic queue has changed drastically after getting this set. Barring any last chance happenings I think Capitol has moved to the front of the line, and the Teagarden set has moved up as well (it's always been a contender, but there's Roach, Parlan, the Jazztet and some others on my shifting wish list.) A relative newcomer under consideration is the Peggy Lee/June Christy set, and as the Capitol has a few tracks of Peggy it would be an expensive way to take her for a test drive. (I've liked what I've heard with the free samples on the website.)

I ramble too much, but that's what the H.R.S. set has done to me. It's been a delightful ear opening experience into a terrific era. While I have some music from WWII & before (maybe 40 discs or so, and apologies for poorly labeling music history here) which I love, my collection is heavily weighted in the hard bop era. It's going to be fun to fix that!

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All right Q! I really enjoy this box and you've described the variety and the highlights well!

I think you would enjoy the Capitol box. . . there IS an affinity between these two. Both are great boons to jazz collecting from Mosaic. . . all that stuff in such great sound and in one place with killer annotation.

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I guess I'm going to be the wet blanket here. Some of the earlier stuff--especially Jack Teagarden with a contingent from Duke's band and the Bechet-Muggsy date--are among the best examples of swing era jazz. But the Buck Clayton sessions aside, I don't find much compelling music on these post-war HRS sides, even though on paper the lineup looks interesting. Not sure why, but the performances just seem to fizzle.

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