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Sugar Blues

Produced by Alex Belhaj



  1. Weary Blues [4:43]

  2. My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It [6:25]

  3. Sugar Blues [4:08]

  4. Careless Love [5:21]

  5. Viper Mad [6:23]

  6. His Eye is On The Shadow [7:49]

  7. Four Or Five Times [4:32]

  8. My Man Rocks Me (With One Steady Roll) [5:06]

  9. Tiger Rag [6:38]

  10. Sitting On Top Of The World [5:15]

  11. You Don’t Love Me [7:08]

  12. Take My Hand, Precious Lord [3:54]

Michigan-based jazz guitarist and band leader Alex Belhaj has been composing and performing around Ann Arbor, Michigan for the past ten years. On this CD, Alex has assembled a talented cast of musicians for his Crescent City Quartet, performing traditional New Orleans-style jazz from the 1920’s and 1930’s. Master clarinetist Ray Heitger is well-known in the Toledo, Ohio area with his Cakewalkin’ Jass Band, which had regular gigs at Toledo clubs for over 40 years. Cornet player Dave Kosmyna is a music professor and also hails from Toledo, and has played with numerous traditional jazz bands throughout the Great Lakes region. String bassist Jordan Schug is from Detroit and also plays cello and bass with several Detroit bands.

This CD contains twelve traditional jazz tunes played pretty true to form. The guitar and bass together keep the rhythm and beat for each number, allowing the horns their freedom to explore the melodies together. Ray Heitger and Dave Kosmyna have played together for many years and their chemistry is apparent. Their styles nicely complement each other, sharing and alternating the lead and the counter-melody beautifully. My favorite songs on this CD are the well-known “Tiger Rag”, written by Jelly Roll Morton in 1917, showcasing some of Ray’s amazing clarinet work, and “Weary Blues” by Artie Williams in 1915.

A few minor comments; the sound editing and mix on some tracks appears uneven, and the volume starts to fade away on several numbers, particularly on “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”. The vocals on this CD are shared between the group members; the singing is honest but sometimes a bit off; off-key, off-beat, and occasionally indecipherable. There is also an unlisted tract 13 included at the end of the CD, a sixty second cut of cacaphonic clamor that somehow detracts from the entire presentation and should have been left out. This CD was recorded in two sessions; October 29, 2011 and January 28, 2012 at The Party Asylum in Toledo, Ohio. The CD was produced by Alex Belhaj. There are brief liner notes by Ann Arbor personality Arwulf Arwulf included on the CD inside cover.

Bruce McCollum

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