The spirits of such great jazz pianist-composers from the 1920s and '30s--notably those of James P. Johnson and Thomas "Fats" Waller--permeate these performances by Dick Wellstood and Cliff Jackson. Jackson (1902-1970) and Wellstood (1927-1987) were themselves strong musical spirits, representing, respectively, the first generation of Harlem stride giants and the gifted young revivalists of the 1940s who revered the masters' works while at times giving them a more modern spin (as Wellstood does with some Monkish chords on his own slow blues, "Blook's Dues"). Wellstood is spotlighted on 11 of this set's 15 tracks. The first three are from a 1961 LP on which his group, the Wallerites, shared billing with Jackson's Washboard Wanderers. These find him leading a quintet in which Waller's wonderful front line of trumpeter Herman Autry and reedman Gene Sedric were reunited after 18 years. On the next eight, from an extremely rare 1954 10-inch LP, Wellstood strides artfully, backed by the unobtrusively whisking brushes of Tommy Benford, Jelly Roll Morton's former drummer. Jackson's four cuts are lividly trad jazz with jug band overtones, as banjo and washboard supply the rhythmic kick. Jackson, banjoist Elmer Snowden, trumpeter Ed Allen, and clarinetist Rudy Powell all excel.
with Ed Allen, Herman Autry, Tommy Benford, Abe Bolar, Floyd Casey, Gene Sedric, Milt Hinton, Rudy Powell, Zutty Singleton, and Elmer Snowden