Reviews of JCD-86 and BCD-117
Date Posted: 2009-07-28
Spirituals & Blues
A solid dixieland trumpeter, Doc Evans spent periods in the early 1940s playing in Chicago and New York. However he preferred the lifestyle of living in Minneapolis and chose to spend most of his life performing locally. Fortunately Evans, who was always highly rated in the trad world, recorded regularly, particularly in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s.
Jazz Heritage and Spirituals & Blues (available from www.jazzology.com) reissue two former Lps apiece. Jazz Heritage dates from 1949-50. Eight of the first dozen selections feature Evans in a bassless quintet with trombonist Don Thompson and clarinetist Johny McDonald (doubling on tenor) while the other four songs are Mel Grant piano solos. The music consists of rags and early jazz pieces. The remainder of this CD has Evans heading two overlapping sextets that benefit from including string bass along with trombonist Al Jenkins and either McDonald or Art Lyons on clarinet. The songs all have the word “blues” in the title even if a few of the numbers (such as “Singin’ The Blues” and “Buddy Bolden’s Blues”) are not technically blues. Evans plays well throughout.
Spirituals & Blues dates from 1957 and 1959, teaming Evans in sextets with trombonist Hal Runyon, clarinetist Dick Pendleton and pianist Knocky Parker. The first seven selections are from the Lp titled Spirituals and Blues, featuring the group on five of the latter along with “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” and “Just A Little While To Stay Here.” The other former Lp was originally titled Traditional Jazz and has some of the hottest playing of these two CDs. Highlights include “Dippermouth Blues,” “High Society,” “Shim-Me-Sha-Wobble” and “Some Of These Days.”
Doc Evans always played the music he loved with sensitivity, swing and creativity within the genre, avoiding corn, clichés and a copycat approach. These two CDs offer excellent examples of his artistry.
& His New Orleans Jazz Kings
Don Albert/Punch Miller/Kid Howard
Echoes Of New Orleans
Duke Heitger’s New Orleans Wanderers
What Is This Thing Called Love?
George Buck’s labels, which include GHB and Jazzology, have been steadily putting out New Orleans jazz, dixieland, swing, blues and vocal albums for decades. His enormous catalog is full of classic music. Three recent releases are covered in this article.
Among the many smaller record companies acquired by Buck through the years is Joe Mares’ Southland label. Monk Hazel & His New Orleans Jazz Kings has music from two separate projects. The first five selections are of particularly strong historic interest for they team together trumpeter Al Hirt and clarinetist Pete Fountain early in their careers. Featured in a septet headed by drummer Hazel and also including trombonist Jack Delaney and pianist Roy Zimmerman (with two vocals by Rita St. Claire), Hirt and Fountain swing hard on such numbers as “Panama,” “I Used To Love You” and a previously unreleased “Gypsy Love Song.” The other eight selections, four of which were previously unreleased, has Hazel in 1957 heading a sextet featuring Delaney, trumpeter Dutch Andrus and clarinetist Harry Shields. While not quite as explosive, this music, which includes “Angry,” “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “When You’re Smiling,” swings just as hard and will be enjoyed by New Orleans jazz fans.
Three separate sessions are grouped together on Echoes Of New Orleans, including two previously unreleased songs. The legendary if relatively little-recorded trumpeter Don Albert is heard in prime form with clarinetist Louis Cottrell in a septet in 1962, taking vocals on “Roses Of Picardy” and “Breeze.” In a rare teaming, trumpeters Kid Howard and Punch Miller add fire to a band also including Cottrell and trombonist Jim Robinson. And trombonist Bill Matthews heads a sextet in 1955 that is reminiscent of Oscar “Papa” Celestin’s group of a few years earlier, particularly on “Oh Didn’t He Ramble” and “Bill Bailey.” The pianists of these bands, Jeanette Kimball, Lester Santiago and Octave Crosby, are by themselves strong reasons to acquire this CD.
Moving to more recent times, trumpeter Duke Heitger teams up with veteran trombonist Bob Havens and clarinetist Evan Christopher on What Is This Thing Called Love, a continuously colorful set of trad and swing. Each of the 13 selections contain special moments and creative solos, with some of the more memorable selections including spirited versions of “What Can I Say After I Say I’m Sorry,” “King Porter Stomp,” Christopher’s arrangement of “Orange Blossom Rag” and “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me.” What Is This Thing Called Love serves as evidence that there is still plenty of life to be found in classic jazz.
All three CDs are available from www.jazzology.com.