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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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WYCLIFFE GORDON

Dreams of New Orleans

Chesky JD 354

 

 

1. When the Saints Go Marching In
2. Darktown Strutters' Ball
3. St Louis Blues
4. Chinatown
5. Panama
6. Lil' Liza Jane
7. Some of These Days
8. Tiger Rag
9. Avalon
10. Royal Garden Blues
11. St Louis Blues
12. Bill Bailey, Won't You Come Please Home?
13. Back Home Again In Indiana
14. Down by the Riverside
15. Sweet Mama, Papa's Getting Mad

Wycliffe Gordon - Trombones, trumpet, vocals
Jon Erik-Kellso - Trumpet, backing vocals (tracks 1-14)
Adrian Cunningham - Clarinet, soprano sax (tacks 1-5, 7-13)
Michael Dease - Trombone, tenor sax, baritone sax, trumpet, backing vocals (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6-9, 11, 12, 14)
Matt Munisteri - Guitar, banjo, vocals (tracks 1-15)
Ibanda Ruhumbika - Tuba (tracks 1-14)
Marion Felder - Drums (tracks 1-14)

 

Most of the tunes on this album are hackneyed but Wycliffe Gordon and his friends make them sound fresh. For instance, on the first track, the solos by banjo and drums pep up the familiar tune. Wycliffe's solo sounds a little disjointed and the same is true of many of the ensembles throughout the CD, but this replicates the New Orleans sound.

Darktown Strutters' Ball opens with a plaintive duet between Matt Munisteri's guitar and Jon Erik-Kellso's trumpet before the rest of the band comes in. Michael Dease's tenor sax solo is accompanied simply by tuba from Ibanda Ruhumbika and gentle brushwork from Marion Felder.

Wycliffe Gordon's arrangement of St Louis Blues (track 3) is made new with a jerky tango beat, a passionate clarinet solo by Adrian Cunningham, a jumpy banjo solo by Matt Munisteri and (towards the end) a jokily blustery trombone solo from Wycliffe Gordon. The other version of St Louis Blues (track 11) is more traditional, with Wycliffe playing growling tailgate trombone, Adrian Cunningham playing a fervent solo on the soprano saxophone, and Michael Dease following on the baritone.

Other highlights include the "latin tinge" given to Panama; a deliberately old-fashioned Tiger Rag, with stimulating drumming from Mario Felder and a vaudevillean trumpet solo from Erik-Kellso; the section in Bill Bailey, Won't You Come Please Home? where trombone and baritone sax interweave in high-flying counterpoint; and Down by the Riverside which starts with a vocal chorus and then has Wycliffe Gordon playing the theme simply with guitar accompaniment.

What makes this album special is not only the first-class musicianship by every player but their willingness to introduce humour into their playing, or at least to perform with their tongues in their cheeks.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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