Here's a new CD played by a band with enthusiasm PLUS. Jacques Gauthe and drummer Malc Murphy join Dan Vernhette's Vintage Jazzmen for a session in New Orleans. The French band's album with gospel singer Tori Robinson crossed my desk just months ago and received top marks. Now they're back with a great instrumental offering.
The loosely formed band just comes together beautifully and this session has no weak spots. Vernhette is a hot trumpeter who could easily swing himself to death. His musical ideas are imaginative and he puts them across to his audience. His strong leadership is apparent on all the tracks but especially on Arkansas Blues
, the old Spencer Williams composition. I liked Dan Vernhette's open and muted horn work throughout this album.
Equally important are the rest of the band's normal frontline, Michel "Boss" Queraud and trombonist, Freddy Legendre. Legendre spawned memories of Turk Murphy in my mind. Banjoist, Siphan Upravan and the impressive bassist, Enzo Mucci, represent the normal rhythm section. Regular drummer, Guillaume Nouaux "sits out" this session and is replaced by special guest, Malc Murphy. Murphy is best known in Britain for his work with the Ken Colyer band for more than a decade. He continued with Johnny Bastable's Chosen Seven. He has played New Orleans on many occasions and led his own Storyville Stompers in the 1970s. Malc Murphy is an asset to any traditional band and is still a member of the Ken Colyer Trust Band
. His flexible and driving style comes through on Somebody Stole My Gal
The appearance of the Paris born Jacques Gauthe is always an occasion. Gauthe left France for New Orleans decades ago. His group is the "band in residence" at Fritzel's, a compulsory stop for jazz fans visiting the Crescent City. Born in 1939, Jacques Gauthe has been a musician since the age of twelve. His creative and fluid sound on reeds echoes the influences of Bechet, Mezzrow, Luter and perhaps Maxim Saury. Proficient on clarinet, alto and soprano he harmonizes perfectly with Michel Queraud as they interact on this session. The two reedmen freely exchange ideas on just about every track but Limehouse Blues stands out.
The album offers some great tunes including the seldom heard Zero
penned by trombonist, Santo Pecora in 1934, a decade after he left the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. My favorites? I liked Jackass Blues, Zero, Chant of the Tuxedos, San and Nobody Knows The Way I Feel
. If you enjoy "kickass codas", you'll get your fix on several tunes including Limehouse Blues and Somebody Stole My Gal
Piano duties are capably handled by John Richardson, pianist with Britain's "Ginger Pig" band. The popular party-band plays regularly at the Black Bottom Club in the UK and often has New Orleans musicians as guests.
This fine session was recorded in New Orleans by Richard Bird and mastered by Jazz Crusade's "Big Bill" Bissonnette. The band is having a "total blast" and traditional fans should love it. Check out the label's website for sound samples.