This happy session is intended as a tribute to George Lewis, Big Jim Robinson, Lawrence Marrero, Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau and Baby Dodds. The revival group is very well chosen for this endeavor as some players actually received lessons from their idols.
The CD offers a generous 16 tunes recorded at a venue in Maidstone, England in early 1995. Sarah Bissonnette appears on tenor sax on "Does Jesus Care?" and truly justifies her presence with some very nice playing. The tunes are carefully selected vehicles for the soloists and represent pieces often performed by the veteran New Orleans musicians being honored. Included are Ice Cream, Lord Let Me In The Lifeboat, Willie The Weeper, Trouble In Mind, Old Fashioned Love and a superb rollicking rendition of Brahm's Cradle Song.
The entire performance is an exercise in rompin', stompin' fun and reminds me of the hundreds of evenings I spent at Moose Hall in Montreal, during the 60's listening to the city's own New Orleans revival bands. I often sat-in myself when they were "desperately" short of a drummer, though I found the New Orleans style impossible to master.
Drummer Colin Bowden finds no difficulty with the N.O. groove on this recording and he sparkles on Willie the Weeper, When You and I Were Young Maggie and every tune he touches.
Sammy Rimington is flawless and fluent in the clarinet style of George Lewis. Rimington was a mainstay of the great Ken Colyer Jazzband for years.
Big Bill Bissonnette took many lessons from Jim Robinson and plays in a gutsy tailgate style though he takes on a delicate muted delivery on tunes like Lonesome Road.
This was my first opportunity to hear the fine banjo of Eric Webster and he sounds like a Crescent City native. Bassist, Ken Matthews, does a fine job representing the beloved "Drag" Pavageau who was one of the real "characters" at Preservation Hall and other venues. "Drag" attracted jazz fans like a magnet and would speak with everyone in his own unique language. "What did he say"? Only a chosen few really knew.
This album is a gem and brought back many fond memories of my youthful enthusiasm for the music of the birthplace of jazz.