All too often, recordings are produced which offer homage to a style without offering anything new. They may be well conceived and played, but without something to distinguish them from their source, one has to wonder what the point is. While Scotty Morris and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are capable performers, the all-too-faithful tribute of Save My Soul
does nothing to elevate it from shtick.
In this case, the homage is to the city of New Orleans. This is party music, with everything from Dixieland to down-home gritty grooves to jump swing. There is even a nod to Afro-Cuban influences on the infectious "I Like It". Singer/guitarist/bandleader Morris, who has written the majority of the material, has clearly done his homework. But somehow the whole affair has a hollow ring to it. When real New Orleans bands like Astral Project incorporate their native New Orleans influences, they create something with a unique voice, their own sound. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, for all the fine playing and solid sense of groove, never gets past their roots to create a sound that differentiates them.
This is likely the point, to recreate a particular vibe, a particular sound. But it begs the question of why? Clearly the original sources for this album, from Louis Armstrong to Cab Calloway to The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, stand on their own, making such literal treatments unnecessary.Save My Soul
will, no doubt, appeal to an audience unconcerned with purpose, rather just out for a good time. And, without question, Save My Soul is
a rollicking good time. Light-hearted, danceable, and with plenty of infectious melodies, grooves and performances, this well-made recording succeeds in confidently recreating a specific point in time.
Listeners who are looking for a fun, swinging party record could do a lot worse than pick up Save My Soul
; listeners, however, who are looking for a little more purpose, a little more distinction, would be well advised to steer clear of this recording.