When I first played this album, I felt the same degree of smug satisfaction that I recall from more than fifty years ago when I heard my first Eddie Condon album. It's the feeling we all experience when we discover we are getting more than we paid for. Randy Reinhart's versatile band of veterans generates a high level of excitement.
For those who are not aware of the New York cornetist/ leader, he played his first gigs as a teenager and in 1973 became a regular substitute at Eddie Condon's on 54th street. There, he jammed with some of the finest players on the scene including Vic Dickenson, Pee Wee Erwin, Herb Hall and drummer Connie Kay. With the touring unit, Paul Lavalle's Band Of America, Reinhart began to double on trombone in the mid 1970s. His cornet is often heard among the Bix Beiderbecke tribute orchestras on record and in concert. His performance on the Arbors release Celebrating Bix
found Reinhart in the company of three cornetists, Jon-Erik Kellso, Randy Sandke and Dan Barrett. Dan Barrett appears here on trombone, his main instrument. As Long As I Live
brings together seven of the finest traditional musicians in the Arbors Jazz stables. In his liner notes, Will Friedwald makes an important observation. "Randy Reinhart is the most generous of bandleaders who shares the spotlight generously with his fellow players - the term "sidemen" almost doesn't apply." The leader is heavily featured on only three of the eleven tunes. "Weatherbird Rag" finds Reinhart and pianist John Sheridan together on the 1923 King Oliver classic. "More Than You Know" showcases the cornetist with James Chirillo, Frank Tate and Tony DeNicola in a beautiful reading of the old Bobby Hackett favorite. The same group, with Sheridan returning, offers the seldom-heard "Too Late Now" penned by Jay Lerner and Burton Lane. It's a great chance to fully absorb the artistry of Chirillo and Tate.
The septet doesn't leave out the "barn-burners." Randy Reinhart and the crew swing their collective butts off with the perennial "Dixieland" favorites, "At The Jazz Band Ball," "Clarinet Marmalade" and "The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me." The latter is probably this writer's favorite foot stomper on this session where everyone gets a chance to strut his stuff. Look for great things by Kenny Davern. The "Condonite" is "Dynamite" on his feature "Yellow Dog Blues."
The title tune, "As Long As I Live" is a song I fondly recall by the Benny Goodman sextet. Randy Reinhart swings the tune at a slightly quicker tempo and it works perfectly. Dan Barrett and Reinhart offer some excellent work and Davern gives a witty tip of the hat to Pee Wee Russell.
This is one of the finest examples of the vintage New York style to come along. It's highly recommended listening.