TRIBUTE TO MR JOHNNY DODDS
DR MICHAEL WHITE
JAZZ CRUSADE JCCD 3052 1999 11 tracks 50 min
Gatemouth, Too Tight, Blue Clarinet Stomp, Lonesome Blues, Wild Man Blues, Melancholy, Bull Fiddle Blues, Perdido Street Blues, Messin' Around, Oriental Man, Loveless Love
CD producer, Big Bill Bissonnette, tells that he first heard Dr Michael White at Preservation Hall, New Orleans. Waiting to get in, he listened to the band playing and started to mentally tick off the players. When he got to the clarinet player he came up with the impossible answer that it was the long dead jazz maestro, Johnny Dodds. Getting into the Hall, he expected to see a player from Europe, where classical traditional jazz is best preserved. What he saw was Dr Michael White, a man who proves that not all Negro Americans have forgotten their musical heritage. I had come to the same happy conclusion some while back. I had complained to my Swedish mate, Bengt, about the lack of young black American traditional jazzmen and he had sent me a tape of Michael and his Original Liberty Jazz Band of New Orleans so that I would know that all is not lost.
Now, Johnny Dodds is my favourite clarinetist from the classical jazz period and, although not slavishly imitating Johnny, Michael White is very much in his style. Match him with one of my favourite horn players, England's Norman Thatcher, and my joy knows no bounds. I refuse to single out any tracks of this CD for mention, as the skilful and beautiful playing on all of them blew me away. One wet afternoon I played this CD through 4 times without stopping and without getting bored by listening to it. If you don't buy this CD you will be missing out on one of life's delights: New Orleans jazz played, as it should be, by those that love it.
AT THE CROSS - PRAYING & SWAYING Volume 1
GREGG STAFFORD & Dr MICHAEL WHITE
JAZZ CRUSADE JCCD 3062 2001 13 tracks 69 min
Nobody's fault But Mine, 29th & Dearborn, I Shall Not Be Moved, Saturday Night Function, Canal Street Blues, At The Cross, Fusty Bottom Blues, Bye & Bye/Saints, Flee As A Bird to The Mountain, Lead Me Saviour, Blues In The Night, Bugle Call Rag, 29th & Dearborn (take 2)
If you have read any of my other reviews of Dr Michael or Gregg Stafford, you will know that I consider them to be two of America's finest living jazzmen. So, it should be no surprise to find that with the two of them together in the same band I am blown away. This is black American jazz getting back to its roots, albeit with some fine white boys in the second line giving them excellent support.
The music is a mix of gospel, spiritual and blues. Mostly it is played ensemble, but there are some fine solos too. In addition to solo breaks Gregg gets to provide a gut wrenchingly beautiful interpretation of ' Flee As A Bird to The Mountain', and Dr Michael solos on an upbeat ' Lead Me Saviour'. But it is not just the two stars who make this CD the must buy that it is; Reide Kaiser on piano, Colin Bray on bass, Emil Mark on banjo and, tai fach, Taff Lloyd on drums are superb. They go beyond complimenting the front line and when they get a solo break of their own they shine.
There is no such thing as perfection; however, if they can find a black trombonist of the same quality as Dr Michael and Gregg and the rest of the band, then maybe we will come close to it. If there are no black American trombonists who can fit the bill, I wonder if Jazz Crusade label owner Bill Bissonnette can be persuaded to bring in Englishman Geoff Cole to take the role.
Buy this CD now. If you do not, I will come looking for you to know why!
DOWN HOME MUSIC
GREGG STAFFORD & Dr MICHAEL WHITE
JAZZ CRUSADE JCCD 3051 2001 12 tracks 70 min
You Tell Me Your Dreams, Back Porch, When I Grow Too Old To Dream, My Life Will Be Sweeter Someday, Rose Room, Mr Jelly Lord, Marie La Veau, The Bucket's Got A Hole In It, The Pearls, Amen/Whole World In His Hands, Panama Rag, When I Grow Too Old To Dream (Take 2)
When I got his CD I thought 'The boys are back!' when in fact they didn't go away. Let me explain; this is the same line-up as on At The Cross - Praying & Swaying Volume 1 and most of the tracks were laid down two days after that wonderful session. This is another superb CD by the band Jazz Crusade put together featuring trumpeter Gregg Stafford and clarinettist Dr Michael White. Whilst Stafford and White are the stars, they are more than ably backed by Reide Kaiser on piano, Colin Bray on bass, Emil Mark on banjo and Taff Lloyd on drums. In fact the other members of the band get many chances to impress the listener with their talents, especially Reide Kaiser who gets Mr Jelly Lord, and The Pearls largely to himself.
By buying this CD you not only get some of the world's best jazzmen, but a selection of tunes that includes some that don't often appear elsewhere. This CD is a fine addition to any traditional jazz fan, particularly if the New Orleans' flavour suites their palette.
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