Western swing is the crossroad where jazz and western music collide magically and musically. Most famously popularized by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in the 1930s and 1940s, its most popular offspring for the past 30 years has been Asleep at the Wheel. The Time Jumpers inhabit that same space most impressively.
This Grammy nominated 2-CD set, recorded live at the regular Monday night session at the Station Inn in Nashville, is one of the most joyous recordings to tickle these ears in ages.
Opening with "Stompin’ At The Station," a swinging Andy Reiss original instrumental, Carolyn Martin joins the band on an equally swinging version of the Fats Waller composed "Honeysuckle Rose." Following a superb take on "Sugar Moon," a Bob Wills classic, the crew does a fine version of the Fats Waller popularized "Write Myself A Letter," with the equally spellbinding vocals of Dawn Sears. The performance is non-stop and loaded with energy and chops to spare. The musicianship here is beyond amazing.
The Time Jumpers are seasoned session pros and road warriors: Dennis Crouch (bass); "Ranger Doug" Green, of Riders In the Sky fame (lead vocals, rhythm guitar); Aubrey Haynie, Kenny Sears, and Joe Spivey (on jaw dropping fiddles, with Sears serving as front man); "Papa" John Hughey (pedal steel guitar); Andy Reiss (lead guitar); Jeff Taylor (accordion); Rick Vanaugh (drums); and Dawn Sears and Carolyn Martin (lead vocalists).
Throughout the two-discs you’ll hear "Along the Navajo Trail," a 1945 gem with the string bending wizardry of "Papa" John Hughey adding color, Jeannie Seeley’s "Leavin’ and Sayin’ Goodbye," an obvious audience favorite that features both female leads, and a gorgeous "Blues For Dixie."
A standout on the disc is the three fiddle line that burns up "Fidoodlin’," a Grammy nominated tune that can cause a jaw to drop at 50 paces. Bob Will’s "Bring It On Down to My House" is followed by the Bobby Troup classic, "Route 66." The Gershwin classic, "Embraceable You," "Cherokee Maiden," Gene Autrey’s "South of the Border," with sweet ensemble vocals, Bob Wills’ "My Confession," and a favorite of your correspondent, "All of Me," with Dawn Sears on powerful vocals. Instrumentalists and vocalists are equally impressive. The instrumental take on Duke Ellington’s "Caravan" features fiddles, accordion and guitar. All knockout performances. Following a chillingly performed "Sweet Memories," the closer is a bouncy, "My Window Faces the South," a 1937 tune that Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen recorded many many years ago.
As exciting as the CD is, the DVD is all the more so. Anyone with an appreciation of stellar musicianship will find this well worth searching out. As Mr. Ellington once said, there are only two kinds of music - good and bad. This is most definitely good, very very good.