Jazz Crusade bills this specially-priced two-CD set as "the most amazing New Orleans jazz music offer ever." That’s pretty close to the truth. New Orleans Reborn includes most of the songs that revivalists fondly cherish. The musicians, with the odd exception, are firmly associated with traditional jazz of the Crescent City as it has been played since being revitalized by Bunk Johnson and George Lewis. In short, this is what fans associate with Preservation Hall.
The music on the first disc offers 17 tracks of "hot jazz" while the second CD features a similar number of songs in the "hymns and blues" category. The hymns are, of course, played by similar New Orleans jazz groups. There are no gospel quartets on these recordings.
This writer was delighted to see the inclusion of "Canal Street Blues" featuring clarinetist Dr. Michael White, trumpeter Gregg Stafford and their international band. In my humble opinion, this is the most exciting track issued on Jazz Crusade in recent years. The track is followed by another barn-burner by Louis Armstong’s crew from a 1938 broadcast featuring Fats Waller, Jack Teagarden and Slick Jones.
The late Tuba Fats & His Chosen Few offer a fiery version of the Preservation Hall standard, "Ice Cream" and the well loved fixture of Jackson Square returns on the second disc with the hymns "Lead Me Savior" and "Amazing Grace." "Tuba Fats" is missed by all who knew him.
Bill Bissonnette would never issue an album of this stature without including a selection by Wilbur DeParis. He picked a winner with "Mighty Lak a Rose." The tune features both Wilbur and Sidney DeParis and clarinetist Omer Simeon. Exciting! The music originally appeared on the disc DeParis In Canada.
If the writer’s use of the word "exciting" appears too often for your taste, I apologize. At my age, I’m too lazy to consult the thesaurus to find synonyms like electrifying, moving, rousing, titillating and stirring.
All fans of traditional jazz in the New Orleans style will enjoy this set. It’s a great introduction to the music for jazz fans who have never explored the music of the great revivalists. It’s all here - from reverent hymns to gut- wrenching blues to steaming up-tempo rousers.
Space does not permit tune by tune coverage of the music but readers are urged to listen to samples on the label’s website. It’s good jazz!