Chuck Hedges and his sextet, The Milwaukee Connection
, are well known to fans who flock to performances at The Red Mill and Selen's Restaurant in his adopted home town. The Chicago born clarinetist has been a part of the traditional scene since the late 1950's. He's been a performer at the granddaddy of all trad-jazz festivals, The Sacramento Jazz Jubilee
for 25 years. Chuck returns to the festival this Memorial Day with the Wild Bill Davison Legacy Band
led by Tommy Saunders. Just Jammin'
is Hedges' third CD for Arbors as a leader but his eighth in total for the Florida label. The Milwaukee Connection
is a fine sextet structured in the style of those of the swing era. Citing such influences as Goodman, Shaw, Peanuts Hucko and the recently deceased Abe Most, Chuck Hedges is steeped in the swing idiom. His approach is confident, energetic and creative. With a running time of 75 minutes and only eleven tunes, each track allows the players plenty of space to stretch out.
The clarinetist offers one of the finest versions of In My Solitude
that I've heard in recent years. Milwaukee Connection's
steaming treatment of The Man I Love
gives everyone a chance to strut. Bassist, Mike Britz and Bucky Buckwalter are outstanding. Midnight Sun
swings quietly with a slightly Latin flavor. Guitarist, Dave Sullivan and pianist, Gary Meisner shine on Samba Dese Days
, a modern take on the Shelton Brooks hit from 1910 (Some Of These Days). Hedges' solo on the tune is a "barn-burner."
While shying away from re-creations, Chuck Hedges and the group offer some swing standards with a fresh feeling. Highly recommended!