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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2000
Combining cuts from all the key KC players and many obscure groups, this CD is an excellent intro to the KC 20s-30s sound, and the sound quality is great. This is the original music that is celebrated by the awesome soundtrack to Robert Altman's film, "Kansas City" -- however, this disc stomps and swings more consistently from song-to-song than the soundtrack. Count Basie tears up the piano on a track or two from the mid-30's.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2001
This CD is by far the best compilation of music from the black territory bands of the southwestern United States during the Depression years.
These bands toured on the back roads of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Arkansas and played mostly one-night stops at local taverns and dance halls in colored neighborhoods during the 1930's and early 1940's.
Many of Kansas City's bands went on to fame and fortune, and Count Basie was probably the most famous of these. Other bandleaders like Ernie Fields found local fame on the Kansas City - Oklahoma City - Dallas circuit, but never made it big nationally.
While this CD was conceived by CBS/Sony Entertainment as a companion to Robert Altman's movie "Kansas City", it can be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone who is looking for a good collection of swing tunes, or who wants to know more about the roots of the Swing Era in the southwestern United States.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2007
My first few spins of this CD were somewhat disappointing. It just did not deliver what I was expecting. Looking back, I cannot imagine precisely what that expectation was, since it now gets more play than most every other CD in my collection. It's not perfect. Some of the connections to Kansas City are a bit tenuous, the booklet is annoyingly written and very annoyingly laid out, and a couple of cuts are not indicative of either the sound or feel, in my opinion. Overall though, this is a splendid collection of some hot music from a hot time. Starting from the first cut, where we enjoy the great Bennie Moten and his Kansas City Orchestra, we are treated to some spectacular musicianship, in this case cornet playing that will knock your socks off. I think Moten an astonishing genius who would be near the top of everyone's lists if he had lived a bit longer. Listen to that piano on "Prince of Wails." Man, the guy was both tasteful and fiery.

And you get not necessarily the most famous cuts from some Kansas City legends, which is nice, but all good ones. Jay McShann and his young sax player Charlie Parker, Mary Lou Williams, Count Basie and Julia Lee are all icons from this era, and all icons who called KC home. Buck O'Neil has reminisced wonderfully about how the music played all night, spilling out from every club into the streets around 12th and Vine. How lucky he was to have lived here and heard this music as it was created! This one gets more enjoyable with every listen.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2011
Anyone buying this on the strength of the cover, in the belief that it's a pure anthology of Kansas City jazz, might well feel somewhat aggrieved. Fletcher Henderson is included on the basis that Lester Young sat in when he played a date at Kansas City. Don Albert hailed from New Orleans, but was based in San Antonio, the Carolina Cotton Pickers was formed in Florida, and Ernie Fields hailed from Texas. Horace Henderson, Billie Holiday and Harry James also get drafted in, although their connection to "The Real Kansas City" seems tenuous at best, but perhaps the most brazen inclusion is that of the Original Yellow Jackets who, we're informed in the somewhat bitty 20-page liner booklet, wanted to work in Kansas City but were so popular in Little Rock that they never got out of town! Provided prospective purchasers disregard the hype, and approach this reissue in the same way as they would any other disparate compilation of jazz recordings, they'll find much to be happy with, including excellent remastering.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A friend loaned this disc to me as we were trying to find pre-show music for Three Wise Fools: A Comedy In Three Acts (1919) that we were producing @ Magnolia Arts Center in North Carolina. I enjoyed this disc so much that I had to get my own copy. Bennie Moten's "Prince of Wails" is an excellent track that bubbles with energy and a piano that won't quit. Other tracks from this disc offer great moments like Harry James' "Life Goes to a Party" that blares with horn and goes soft with piano and then starts to percolate again with trumpet. Count Basie's tracks here like "Lester Leaps In," "Tickle Toe," "I Left My Baby" with Jimmy Rushing's vocals & the smooth "Harvard Blues" are gorgeous pieces. George E. Lee's Novelty Singing Orchestra with "Paseo Street" puts a smile on my face. The recordings form a loose chronological order starting with 1925 and going to 1941. With 25 tracks, this is a full disc with a variety of sounds celebrating the vibrant music of Kansas City. Enjoy!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2006
Before you listen to the fake re-creations, listen to this CD. This is the true big band sound, before it was watered-down and commercialized by the Dorseys and Glenn Millers. I'm giving it five stars, even though many of the tracks aren't Kansas City style at all(Fletcher Henderson and the Carolina Cotton Pickers are Harlem and Arkansas respectively), and of course, I can't explain why Harry James is in here, but he ain't all that bad. Anyhow, just listen. This is the music that defined an era.
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