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Deemus by Barrett Deems

Barrett Deems (1914-1998) may not be one of the more familiar names from jazz history, however, the Chicago-based drummer forged a sideman career second to none with lengthy stints in the bands of Louis Armstrong, Joe Venuti, Jack Teagarden and Benny Goodman. His first recording as a leader, Deemus, was recorded with an all-star Chicago cast in 1978 and although well received, it suffered from limited distribution. Delmark Records released the session as a CD in 1997 and after years of being out of print has decided to put it back on the market.

With a jam session spirit, the disc has an infectious flow of solid rhythm and lucid soloing. Deems, along with bassist Wilson "Pee Wee" McKindra and rhythm guitarist John DeFauw provide a secure, swinging foundation for the group's outstanding front-line soloists. Clarinetist Chuck Hedges, guitarist Bob Roberts, vibraphonist Don DeMichael (who is also remembered as a long-time editor of Downbeat magazine) and pianist Steve Behr deliver soulful, swirling lines on a set of familiar swing-era standards. The medium-tempo warm up of "Deed I Do," the bluesy "New Orleans" and the blazing chops showcase of "Shine" and "After You've Gone" create a friendly, toe-tapping vibe with individual prowess and musical camaraderie.

The mix of clarinet, vibes and guitar is reminiscent of the classic sound of the Benny Goodman sextet with Charlie Christian and Lionel Hampton. The influence of the Goodman sextet is front-and-center with the inclusion of "Seven Come Eleven" and "Six Appeal," two classics from legendary clarinetist's songbook. Two bonus tracks that weren't part of the original 1978 release are "I Love Paris" and "Get Happy," both piano trio cuts featuring pianist Behr.

A solid musical affair with outstanding musicianship, Deemus serves as a showcase for Deem's incomparable drumming, as well as a documentation of the world-class jazz coming out of Chicago in the 1970s.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Barrett Deems
  • CD Title: Deemus
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Reissue Original Release: 1997
  • Record Label: Delmark Records
  • Musicians: Barrett Deems (drums), Chuck Hedges (clarinet), Don DeMichael (vibes), Bob Roberts (lead guitar), Steve Behr (piano), John DeFauw (rhythm guitar), Wilson "Pee Wee" McKindra (bass)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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