Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Santo And His New Orleans Rhythm Kings - Southland Records

Santo And His New Orleans Rhythm Kings

1954 Southland Records S-LP 213 Stereo / LP-213 Mono

Side One:
1. Saints Come Marching In
2. Fidgety Feet
3. Bucket Has A Hole In It
4. Some Day You Be Sorry

Side Two:
1. Bourbon Street Parade
2. Bill Bailey Come Home
3. Rose Room
4. Breeze

Liner Notes:

Santo Pecora - Trombone
Lester Bouchon - Bass Sax - Clarinet
Harry Shields - Clarinet
Thomas Jefferson - Trumpet
Roy Zimmerman - Piano
Johnny Edwards - Drums
Phil Darois - String Bass
Jo Linn - Vocal

If ever an LP needed no notes, this is it - because it's the kind of great New Orleans jazz that needs no explaining. But a few words appear to be in order to explain why a musician of the stature of Santo doesn't, for example, ever win the Downbeat award. It doesn't take a critical expert to separate the rich, full trombone tone in these sides from the swamp of hurried mosquito buzzings currently endorsed by the more widely circulated music publications. Great actors don't win the Photoplay award, either. The fact is, that Santo Pecora plays JAZZ, not the sick little rhapsodies the modern reviewer gives 5 stars today and can't remember the name of tomorrow, but living, beating jazz.

The sound of Santo as he recorded in 1925 with Paul Mares and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings had its impact on the music world - but right here in this jacket is the full flowering of Mr. Tailgate. This is the sound of Jazz, to get your feet 'a marching and charge up your batteries. You'll not hear the self-pitying whinnies critics excuse by calling them "modern", "experimental", "progressive". This is the clear, forthright musical statement of one of the titans of jazz, recorded with intelligence and under-standing by Joe Mares, and played by superior JAZZ musicians.

The superb pair of clarinets offer enough contrast to demonstrate the enormous range of interpretation possible within the idiom of real jazz. Harry Shields on side 1, (note the impeccable ensemble work on "Fidgety Feet" and the solo on "Saints") more than lives up to the superlatives heaped on his horn by European jazz papers. Lester Bouchon on side 2 plays with a thoroughly satisfying "indoor" sound. But it's the same Lester, recording his bass sax for the first time on records, that gives you some-thing new and modern and still makes musical sense. His treatment of "Bucket's Got a Hole In It" is unique in recorded Jazz. And his bass sax solos on Saints and Fidgety Feet are masterpieces. The same "Bucket" is a showcase displaying the clean cut talent of young Thomas Jefferson who brings back to New Orleans jazz its singing voice for this one. It's a fresh voice, reminiscent of the Armstrong of the late twenties. Jefferson's street-parade trained trumpet is muted for a fine solo, here.

It's comforting to hear a rhythm section that knows what it is. Drummer Johnny Edwards maintains a beat! He tosses no petulant bombs in the middle of a jazzman's solo and sets up no distracting clatter of cymbals to bestir morons to shrill screams of "Go! Go! Go!"

Phil Darois is a true jazz brass man who plays his instrument with studio perfection, but does not become mechanical. Roy Zimmerman, of course, is one of the. leading lights of the New Orleans jazz scene, bringing a feeling of flashing excitement to each solo and blending back to ensemble-stimulating chords when called for.

It's not easy for a young lady to sing with a real New Orleans jazz band. Especially, a young lady who's only been in this country a few years. But young Jo Linn, of the British Isles, in her four vocals on this LP, blends naturally with this great band. That's because she. hasn't merely been added to the record to satisfy some assumed need for vocals - but because she just happens to he Santo's regular band vocalist who works on the job nightly and has a big following among the cash customers.

Santo comes up with a jazz bonanza. Because it's jazz, it is played with the required instruments. It seems not to need a bank of fiddles, other stringed contraptions that are useless where there's no 110 Volt AC outlet available. The trumpet is not bent amidships to point its bell skyward.

The results of this recording session is jazz which is thoroughly in the grand old New Orleans tradition. There's a remarkable amount of fine dixieland jazz on this long-playing record - and it's all New Orleans.


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