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Adventures In Jazzland by Jeff Healey

Jeff Healey and his Jazz Wizards have earned a place in the hearts of lovers of music from the real "Jazz Age."

Canada’s Stony Plains Records will re-issue two of Healey’s CDs that received very limited distribution in the past. Among Friends is from 2002 and was reviewed here in the same year. Adventures In Jazzland dates from 2004 and was originally released on the musician’s own HealeyOphonic label with a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Orthophonic records produced by Victor at the advent of electrical recording.

In addition to his regular crew, a few well-known visitors appear including Vince Giordano, Marty Grosz, Dan Levinson and cornetist Tom Pletcher. Pletcher is capable of duplicating Bix Beiderbecke solos better than any living cornetist.

Fans of vintage popular music and its composers will delight in Jeff Healey’s choice of material. While it’s nice to hear old favorites like "Poor Butterfly" and "Bugle Call Rag," it’s wonderful when Healey digs deep into obscurity to resurrect gems like "My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now" and "Mine, All Mine." The latter was penned by Russian-born Sam Stept and Harry Ruby. Stept’s biggest hit was "Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree." Jeff Healey handles the vocal like a singer of the period.

Other treasures include "Emaline" written by Mitchell Parish and Frank Perkins in 1934. Tom Pletcher is featured on cornet with Healey playing valve trombone and offering a spirited vocal.

Pianist, Frank Signorelli was best known for his work with the Original Dixieland Jass Band and later with the Original Memphis Five. Signorelli penned a beautiful tune which he titled "Little Buttercup." It’s performed on this CD by an unusual trio comprised of leader Healey playing solo guitar, Marty Grosz on rhythm guitar and Dan Levinson on clarinet. It’s as pretty a rendition as you’ll ever hear. In later years, lyrics were added and "Little Buttercup" became a standard, "I’ll Never Be The Same."

This recording was the first by Jeff Healey’s "Jazz Wizards" as they are known today and there’s plenty of lovely work by all his regulars Colin Bray, Reide Kaiser, Christopher Plock, Gary Scriven, Jesse Barksdale and Drew Jurecka. Adventures In Jazzland gets high marks both musicianship and originality.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jeff Healey
  • CD Title: Adventures In Jazzland
  • Genre: Traditional / New Orleans
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Reissue Original Release: 2004
  • Record Label: Stony Plains Records
  • Tracks: Bugle Call Rag, My Honey’s Lovin’ Arms, Emaline, I Never Knew What A Gal Could Do, If I Had You, Three Little Words, My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now, Someday Sweetheart, Keep Smiling At Trouble, Mine All Mine, You’re Driving Me Crazy, Poor Butterfly, You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me, Indiana, Little Buttercup.
  • Musicians: Jeff Healey (trumpet, guitar, valve trombone, vocals). Collective personnel: Ross Woodridge (clarinet), Dan Levinson (clarinet, C-Melody sax), Tom Pletcher (cornet), Christopher Plock (soprano sax), Vince Giordano (bass sax), Jesse Barksdale (guitar), Marty Grosz (guitar), Reide Kaiser (piano), Colin Bray (bass), Gary Scriven (drums), Drew Jurecka (violin).
  • Rating: Four Stars
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