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This 1958 album of Pee Wee Russell exactly reflects his greatness and is appropriately named “Portrait of Pee Wee.” The feelings his clarinet expresses are very evident and will immediately effect the listeners here of Jazz Con Class. This analogy by Philip Larkin is very exact, “No one familiar with the characteristic excitement of his solos, their lurid, snuffling, asthmatic voicelessness, notes lent on till they split, and sudden passionate intensities, could deny the uniqueness of his contribution to jazz.” This album will be featured for a couple weeks, check the schedule link for play times, enjoy!

More on Album:

Portrait of Pee Wee album by Pee Wee Russell was released Oct 24, 2011 on the Essential Media Mod label. Issued originally on Counterpoint and reissued many times since by budget labels like Everest, this CD version has superior sound. Portrait of Pee Wee music CDs From 1958, this set matches the great clarinetist Pee Wee Pussell with an all-star horn section (trumpeter Ruby Braff, trombonist Vic Dickenson and tenor-saxophonist Bud Freeman) on a program of swing standards along with “Pee Wee Blues.”……Read More  

Biography of Pee Wee Russell:

Born Charles Ellsworth Russell, March 27, 1906, in St. Louis, MO, (died February 15, 1969, in Alexandria, VA); son of Charles Ellsworth Russell (a clerk, store manager, and broker) and Ella Ballard; married Mary Chaloff, March 11, 1943, in New York.

From the beginning, Pee Wee Russell was an enigma, an unclassifiable jazz musician whose unique style graced uncounted live and recorded jazz sessions. Bent on developing a singular voice, Russell consistently surprised both fellow musicians and fans with his recognizable solos. Though he became proficient on several reed instruments and a good reader of music, and though he could blend well with an ensemble with fine tone quality, Russell always preferred smaller groups to larger ones and developed a clarinet style that utilized growls, squeaks, swoops, whispers, and shouts to express his daring musical personality. Most critics and fellow musicians regard him as one of the truly inventive, expressive voices in jazz. Categorized for most of his career as a Dixieland or Chicago-style jazzman, Russell in his later years embraced, and was embraced by, many listeners and musicians of more modern bent.

The late and only child of the father for whom he was named and Ella Ballard Russell, Pee Wee was born in the Maplewood section of St. Louis on March 27, 1906. By his own testimony and that of friends, he was fawned upon by his parents who, while not affluent, dressed him finely and bought him whatever he seemed to desire, including his first musical instruments. Initially, his parents called him by his middle name, Ellsworth, to avoid confusion around the house. His father worked at a variety of jobs-clerical, managerial, sometimes entrepreneurial-and was usually upwardly mobile. The family moved to Okmulgee, then to Muskogee, Oklahoma just as Russell was about to enter elementary school. He began taking piano lessons, later switching to drums, xylophone, and other instruments provided by his indulgent parents. Next came the violin, at which the boy showed some proficiency. That career ended, however, at about age 12, when his mother accidentally sat on the violin.

As Russell’s biographer, Robert Hilbert, wrote in his Pee Wee Russell: The Life of a Jazzman, “But his interest in music was far from over. One night in 1918, his father took him to an Elks event he had arranged [Russell's father managed the Elks lodge]…. Alcide “Yellow” Nunez [a clarinetist] was holding forth with his band, the Louisiana Five. Nunez, one of the first prominent white jazzmen in New Orleans … was a charter member of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band [ODJB] in Chicago…. But the aspect of Nunez’s playing that held young Russell enthralled was the thrill of the unexpected: improvisation.” Forty years later Russell expressed his still-remembered excitement at this event and throughout his career free-wheeling improvisation remained the hallmark of his playing…..Learn More

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