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CD Reviews 

Various Artists
Breaking Out of New Orleans: 1922-1929
(JSP Records)

Most music lovers who sample New Orleans jazz from the l920s are likely to start and end with Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and Sidney Bechet. This budget-priced, four-CD, 101-track set gives us a peek at some lesser lights that also deserve attention. Despite the title, the set features bands that you might have heard in the Crescent City 80 years ago while Armstrong, Morton and Bechet were conquering the rest of the country.

Breaking Out of New Orleans indicates that even in the 1920s there was considerable variety in what constituted New Orleans jazz. Some of the tracks here, like those by A. J. Piron's New Orleans Orchestra, are quite ragtimey, harking back to an earlier music that helped give birth to jazz. Others, like those by the Jones and Collins Astoria Hot Eight, sound cutting edge for their time. Most endearing to local listeners could be the nine cuts by Sam Morgan's Jazz Band, including what are probably the first recordings of "Down by the Riverside," "Over in the Gloryland" and "Bogalusa Strut." It's uncanny how close the spirit of these tracks are to the best bands Preservation Hall would offer more than five decades later.

Johnny Dodds, away from his famous sideman status with Satchmo, shines as a leader on more than 20 cuts here, and there are historic cuts by Kid Ory and Freddie Keppard, too. Sonically the tracks from before around 1926 are a little tough, but from then on, things are quite listenable, making this is as about as good a survey of this era you are going to find for the money. -- Tom McDermott

Hawg Jaw
Send Out the Dogs
(Throne Records)

Eight years since the original band formed, the local Southern sludge-metal slingers of Hawg Jaw have finally released their second proper CD, Send Out the Dogs, and come off sounding like old masters.

Drunken masters, that is. Thanks to the pedigree of their current lineup (members have played for Eyehategod, Spickle and Outlaw Order, to name a few), the band has the classic NOLA sludge sound down, but what separates Hawg Jaw from its contemporaries is that the metal sounds booze-fueled, as opposed to reefer-driven or evil-demon-infatuated. Its slow, growling, blues-heavy riffs conjure images of a rowdy barfly drowning his sorrows at the Dixie Taverne, simultaneously pissed off at the world and wearied by it. In "Diggin' Up the Hatchet," lead singer Mike Dares screams in anger at the constant flow of conflicting ideologies and religions pumped into our brains from the higher-ups, when in the end, none of them can be completely true. Sadly, the only truth he can see in our lives is, "We crawl from the dirt of the earth to fall right back again."

To further distinguish the band from its contemporaries, Hawg Jaw tends to throw in a smart breakdown when least suspected. On "From Angels to Insects," for instance, for a few of measures here and there the song lifts up from the muck to a high-rising screech before crashing back down again to the depths of the swamp. But in the end, this is quality NOLA sludge through and through. -- Rob Bryant

Various Artists
The Goldwax Story, Vol. 1

The success of Stax Records inspired the formation of several labels eager to cash in on the very sellable "Memphis Sound," including Goldwax Records. Formed in 1964, Goldwax's core sound was discernibly less poppy than what Stax often strived to attain, so the influence of blues and gospel was more extreme. A case in point is the opening track, the Ovations' "I'm Living Good," a track so close to Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers' gospel sound that it's haunting.

Even though this album doesn't contain many of the label's bigger hits, this release will thrill lovers of deep soul with songs like O. V. Wright's lone Goldwax outing, "That's How Strong My Love Is," a veritable template for deep soul. Goldwax's most successful artist, James Carr, is represented by three moving tracks. "The Dark End of the Street" and "Pouring Water On A Drowning Man" were bestselling singles, but interestingly, they are practically overshadowed by "I Don't Want to Be Hurt No More," which was originally available only on LP. One of Goldwax's most prolific artists, Spencer Wiggins, is also in the mix, and after listening to "I'll Be True to You" -- with it's brilliant Floyd Cramer-like piano fills -- and "He's Too Old," you, too, will wonder why none of his Goldwax couplings charted.

The previously unknown Dorothy Williams contributes the sassy "The Well's Gone Dry," a song that rivals anything that Stax divas Carla Thomas and Mable John were recording at the time. In fact, the Stax/Goldwax parallels are so prominent that they're almost a subtext. -- Jeff Hannusch

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