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

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The Very Next Thing

OTBR 0002



Back Home Again In Indiana

Freight Train


You Are My Sunshine

Nobody But My Baby Is Getting My Love

In A Mellow Tone

Jock-A- Mo

Dirty 40

Sweet Georgia Brown

Manhă De Carnaval

Jam For Lenny

Ain’t Misbehavin’

I’ve Got My Mojo Working

When The Red,Red Robbin

This Little Light Of Mine

Jock-A -Mo

Russo Griffin Free Improv

Nick Russo (guitar and banjo); Betina Hershey (vocal and guitar); Miles Griffith (vocal); David Pleasant (drums, vocals, harmonica); Essiet Essiet/ Mamdou Ba (bass); Gordon Au (trumpet); Josh Holcombe (trombone; Dennis Lichtman (clarinet); Mike Russo (guitar)

Includes 72-minute DVD with eleven live recordings, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews [75:12]

Eclecticism Lives! Hot Jazz Jumpers is based in NYC and its guiding light is guitar and banjoist Nick Russo, a versatile stylist who enjoys a wide portfolio of gigs on the New York scene. His wife, singer and guitarist Betina Hershey, takes much of the focus of this DVD-plus-CD, and has clearly immersed herself in the vernacular of the 1920s and 30s. And yet the band does branch out, unwilling to limit itself, as a look at the headnote will show.

The gatefold-style card houses both a DVD and a CD. The DVD introduces a personable group, dapperly if sometimes idiosyncratically attired, and multi-ethnic. The film is not Tarantinoesque; it’s more the folksy, homespun kind of thing with slightly shaky non-professional camera-work. Talking of which the set was recorded domestically at Russo and Hershey’s own home, which also means that sound quality is hardly of the Rudy van Gelder variety.

You’ll need to – and would obviously want to – play both discs as there are things on the DVD that aren’t on the CD; it’s certainly not an aural clone. How Deep is the Ocean, for example, is on the DVD as is Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me and both are enjoyable. Stylistically we range from downhome guitar picking, to a fine vaudevillian sound, Mississippi Levee, Latino, Gospel, salsa and points between and indeed beyond. There’s a Lightnin’ Hopkins feel to some of Russo’s bluesier offerings. There are few out-and-out disasters but Caravan is one – pretty terrible – and some of Miles Griffith’s vocals are what critics like to term an acquired taste. Guests add variety in the shape of trumpet, trombone and - on one track – clarinet. One feels that rather too much has been packed in; too many guests; too many styles, which has the effect of crowding out some of the more freewheeling aspects of this group. They are obviously an engaging live band.

Jonathan Woolf

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