The New Orleans revival bands in Scandinavia show a tremendous interest in the origins of the music they perform. The Gota River Jazzmen
are a prime example. Everything revolves about the tune and the band from Gothenburg, Sweden might be called "performing historians."
The Swedish septet's personnel is unchanged since their first recording. In That Day
is the popular band's seventh release. Unlike many other jazz styles, there are no prima donnas in the outfit. The overall sound is the ultimate goal and it's never a disappointment when a Gota River CD arrives in my mailbox.
One of the most impressive tracks shows up quickly in the form of "This Love Of Mine" penned by Frank Sinatra in the early 40s. A fine muted cornet solo by Esbjorn Olsson grabs the listener's ear immediately leading into a six - minute delight. New Orleans trumpeter Charlie Love is little known to most jazz fans but his composition "Black Cat On The Fence" will be familiar to many. The trumpeter's own band known as the Love-Jiles Ragtime Orchestra recorded another of this album's songs, the rollicking "West Indies Blues" in 1960.
W.C. Handy recalled hearing a bluesman sing about "where the Southern cross the Yellow Dog" and penned "Yellow Dog Blues" many years later. The lyrics refer to the point where the Southern Railway crosses the Yazoo Delta Railroad, affectionately known in Mississippi as the Yellow Dog. Wagerman's bluesy piano and Olsson's open horn get the tune started and Nystrom's clarinet follows in high style. It's as nice a rendition as you'll ever hear.
Other highlights are the Gota River treatments of King Oliver's "Working Man Blues" and an obscure John Brunious tune titled "First Choice." The oldest song is "When We All Get To Heaven" written in 1898 with lyrics by a Philadelphia schoolteacher named Eliza Edmunds Hewitt.
One of the most interesting pieces historically is "Hiawatha." The tune was penned by Charles N. Daniels under the pseudonym of Neil Moret in 1901. At the time, Daniels worked in the sheet music department of the Barr Dry Goods Company in St. Louis. He wrote "Hiawatha" on a train trip to Hiawatha, Kansas. Performances by John Philip Sousa's band boosted "Hiawatha's" popularity and the Whitney Warner publishing house paid Daniels the astounding sum of $10,000.00 for his work. In addition he was hired to head the company's office in Detroit. Over the years, the venerable old piece has often been recorded under other names including "Hiawatha Rag", "Lizard On A Rail" and "Higher Waters."
Fans of vintage New Orleans jazz will enjoy the Gota River Jazzmen and their newest release. While you won't find this CD at your local outlet, it is available by mail. Details are on the band's website.