A great pot of beef stew always seems to taste better the second time around. So it is with the newest album by the Jack Brass Band is even more exciting than their 2005 CD. It’s more traditional in its choice of material but still smacks of the fresh ideas of a modern band.
The Minnesota outfit frequently performs in New Orleans and its members often sit in with Crescent City treasures like the Rebirth Brass Band. Within the past year, they shared the stage with the likes of The Preservation Hall Jazz Band
, Africa’s Gangbe Brass Band
and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews
. Unlike their debut CD, Traditionally Speaking
does not contain any compositions by the band members but features their trademark arrangements of such old favorites as "Just a Little While To Stay Here" and the perennial "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" including the traditional switch to double tempo. The Jack Brass put together a really interesting version of "Back O’ Town Blues," a tune credited to Louis Armstrong and pianist Luis Russell. The young band spices up their arrangement with bits of "Tin Roof Blues" and it works nicely.
Sticking with the traditional New Orleans numbers, the group continues with Paul Barbarin’s "Bourbon Street Parade" and then a rollicking marching band favorite titled "Whoopin’ Blues." This piece has been recorded under a dozen and more titles as every band seems to tag it with their own moniker. Perhaps the most popular version in recent memory was performed by Harold Dejan’s Olympia Brass Band, tagged "The Olympia Special."
The Jack Brass Band pays tribute to the influences of rock and a stompin’ rendition of Fats Domino’s "I’m Walkin’" and Ray Charles’ "I Got a Woman." More recent years are acknowledged with the inclusion of Raw Breed’s 1997 hit, "Everything’s Lovely" and Hugh Masekela’s "Grazing In The Grass."
Assembled from sessions in Minneapolis and New Orleans, Traditionally Speaking
will appeal to fans of New Orleans street bands and those younger folks who enjoy the modern street beat. It’s the kind of band that would be an instant hit at jazz, blues or roots music festivals. There are generous sound samples on the band’s web site or at CD Baby. Give it a listen! It’s good jazz!