PEE WEE RUSSELL
                 Swingin' with Pee Wee

                           Recording Date:
                                March 29, 1960

                                Buck Clayton          TP
                                Tommy Flanagan     P
                                Osie Johnson          D
                                Wendell Marshall     B
                                Pee Wee Russell      CL



Review by Scott Yanow
During the last dozen years of his life before passing away in 1969, clarinetist Pee Wee Russell recorded and performed in a variety of surprisingly modern settings. It was not that Russell was not modern himself, for his eccentric style had long been quite distinctive, but he had previously been content to mostly play in freewheeling Dixieland bands. His encounters with valve trombonist Marshall Brown (who provided him with an advanced repertoire and arrangements) and a 1963 Newport Jazz Festival appearance with Thelonious Monk found Russell stretching himself. The two albums that are reissued in full on this 1999 CD are not quite as adventurous, being essentially small-group swing, which was still a bit ahead of Eddie Condon's bands. Russell and trumpeter Buck Clayton make for a perfectly compatible team on the 1960 date, a relaxed and swinging quintet session with pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Wendell Marshall, and drummer Osie Johnson. The other set has basic arrangements from pianist Nat Pierce, quiet support from bassist Tommy Potter and drummer Karl Kiffe, and Russell is joined by three of his favorite horn players (trumpeter Ruby Braff, trombonist Vic Dickenson, and tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman). One can fully understand why the clarinetist was quite pleased with both of these albums. His playing is much more consistent and comfortable on the mid-tempo material than usual and he mostly gets to avoid the overly hyper Dixieland warhorses. A gem.

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