This concert date by tenor saxophonist Jerry Jerome and his all–star sextet was recorded in May ’98, roughly sixty years after Jerome joined Benny Goodman’s celebrated dance band. That’s no misprint — the number sixty is correct. Six–oh. In fact, the robust and quick–witted Jerome was a month shy of his 86th birthday when he and his colleagues treated the audience in Boca Raton, Florida, to an engaging program of swing–based Jazz from the good old days. In between numbers, Jerome talks about his tenure with Goodman, relating some amusing anecdotes, and pianist Higgins adds a humorous story about his Army adventures in ’55 playing the “St. Louis Blues Boogie” (which he then reprises) in a series of talent shows. Everyone plays enthusiastically, and the audience seems to be having a grand time listening. The main drawback, as is true of so many in–concert dates, abides in the area of sound quality, which is for the most part strident and sub–par. I’m not sure how the recording was accomplished, but its end result emerges as improvised and unpolished, as if the decision to record was made in haste and without the appropriate equipment (sounds like a hand–held tape recorder might have been used). Back to the music, it’s likable albeit well–known fare, with a number of brief but effective solos, especially by Allred, Higgins and the leader, whose assertive delivery belies his age. Jones, who is featured on “I Can’t Get Started,” suffers most from the recording’s generally unrefined makeup. In other respects, this is a pleasant companion piece to Jerome’s recent two–disc set, Something Old, Something New
(Arbors 19168), and offers conclusive evidence that when it comes to cooking up Jazz that swings, age isn’t necessarily the most meaningful ingredient
Track listing: Introduction; Oh Lady Be Good; Jerry Talks About His Days with Benny Goodman; Stompin’ at the Savoy; I Can’t Get Started; Muskrat Ramble; Tin Roof Blues; Rosetta; Jerry Talks About Goodman Again; Sweet Georgia Brown; Pennies from Heaven; East of the Sun; Eddie Higgins Dialogue; St. Louis Blues Boogie; In a Mellow Tone (76:26).
Jerry Jerome, tenor saxophone; Davey Jones, trumpet; John Allred, trombone; Eddie Higgins, piano; Phil Flanigan, bass; Ed Metz Jr., drums.
Contact: Jazz Hour Records, Box 841408, Pembroke Pines, FL 33084.