From the Record Shelves #94

The Swampland

LP Ace of Hearts AH 162

I remember a quote from Willie the Lion Smith: “The musician never masters music, but learns something new every day”. I agree with that! He was himself one of “The Three” which means one of the three best stride piano players, the other two being James P. Johnson and the somewhat younger Fats Waller. They took turns playing at rent parties in Harlem, New York and when one of them was around at such events you could be sure that “the joint was jumpin’”.

When the Lion got a chance to record with his “Cubs” he chose good company. The guitar, bass and drums are played by the not very well known Jimmy McLin, Ellsworth Reynolds and Eric Henry. But in the frontline we have Buster Bailey who is first out with his clarinet, and then Dave Nelson, the nephew of King Oliver on trumpet. The swinging tenor sax man is Bob Carroll who played with Don Redman’s orchestra at the time.

That Willie the Lion himself plays with all his ten fingers needn’t be mentioned, but he has some very nice variations in his playing here as well.

Part credit for the tune is given to Clarence Williams who helped his friend to organize these sessions.