The jump blues bands of the 40’s and 50’s denote a period in jazz when music was meant to take you by the horns and lift you off the dance floor. With its blues drenched notes, growling trumpets, wailing saxophones, and slashing riff phrases, some retro bands have made an easy caricature of this vital music. Unlike these other retro jump blues bands of late, J Street Jumpers don’t play to obvious musical stunts and clichés, nor do they merely recreate this music; they simply swing hard with grinding horn solos, head-thumping bass and rock steady drumming.
The J Street Jumpers come swinging from Washington D.C. They are well known in the venues and club circuits of the mid-Atlantic areas. They join a long list of retro jump-blues bands that emerged during the 90’s that pay tribute to their mentors, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chic Webb, Louis Prima and Cab Calloway to name but a few.
This swingtet created by saxophonist and leader, Charlie Hubel, is an eight-piece band with a driving swing-rhythm section of guitar, piano, bass and drums. The front line includes a tenor, alto, trumpet and trombone with the two saxophone players who can alternate with baritone saxophone. It has the raw power of the big bands and the flexibility and spirit of, say, a bebop quartet.
The album opens with an Oran "Hot Lips" Page’s, "Good For Stompin.’" Not surprisingly, it is played on high adrenaline with all the players taking turns showing there respective chops behind a thunderous beat. Their enthusiasm keeps the material fresh and new. Carmen Velarde sings on most tunes and has the sassy delivery of Anita O’Day and the salty blues of Dinah Washington. She uncannily resembles Dinah in her opening phrase on up-tempo, "Destination Moon" and shows her range in the heart-wrenching rendition of "Blue And Sentimental." Velarde is steady and confident throughout.
A nod goes to pianist and vocalist, Arthur Gerstein, who charges full throttle when he declares "I Want You I Need You." He is followed by a string of gut wrenching horn solos and a rocking guitar solo by Rusty Bogart that will set your hair on fire. Similar treatment is given to the only other male vocal track, "Boogie Woogie King."
Buddy Johnson’s "Dr. Jive Jives" and "Til My Baby Comes Back To Me" show that the J Street Jumpers aren’t only testosterone driven Hep Cats
but gentile and easy swingers that cook up a nice groove. Velarde rounds out the album by shouting "all you have to do is rock and roll" in "That’s All" a rollicking hard blues that is prophetic of the album.
In all, Good For Stompin
has 13 tracks replete with muscle, sweat, drive, dynamics and a good dose of attitude. The J Street Jumpers romps and rolls without pretensions and without hesitation. If this is your cup of tea, then you’re in for a ride.