Charles Ellsworth "Pee Wee" Russell was often pigeonholed--or wrongheadedly dismissed--as a "Dixieland" or "Chicago-style" clarinetist. What Russell (1906-1969) was, was the most determinedly (but never self-consciously) individualistic stylist on his instrument, whose oddly gritty tone, consistently surprising choice of notes, and river-deep feeling made his work a joy that could be shared by trad and modern jazz fans alike.
The two LPs paired herein, from 1958 and 1960, sprang from a period during which Russell began to gain overdue notice as a before-his-time modernist who'd been kept under wraps. Indeed, three years after making the exceptional LP Swingin' with Pee Wee he played a triumphant set with Thelonious Monk at the 1963 Newport Jazz Festival.
Here, Russell fronts two all-star groups, one of which features the future piano giant Tommy Flanagan. Typically, concessions are made to no style or fashion, save for timeless swinging.
with Buck Clayton, Tommy Flanagan, Wendell Marshall, Osie Johnson, Ruby Braff, Bud Freeman, Vic Dickenson, Nat Pierce, Tommy Potter, Karl Kiffe