Tuba, Banjo, and a 2/4 Beat.
I have been listening to a lot of Nagel-Heyer releases lately and I have been trying to identify the things that make "traditional" jazz traditional. Certainly the presence of the Tuba and Banjo (or guitar as a percussive, rhythmic instrument with harmonic capabilities) are two big clues. Tuba player David Ostwald and the ubiquitous Howard Alden cover these instruments on this and many N-H releases. The majority of the music is played with a 2/4 time rather than the more familiar 4/4 Swing and beyond feel. These factors seem to be what contribute most to the "Traditional" sound. The Gully Low Jazz Band sells itself as a band a variety of jazz styles, but to my ears they play them all in a vintage manner. That is okay with me. Listening to Blues in Our Hear
immediately makes me think of Don Byron's Bug Music
and any number of Wynton Marsalis releases. My estimation is the Gully Low Jazz Band plays a more authentic brand of traditional jazz than Mr. Marsalis (as much as I admire his music) ever should. The music on this disc (and all other N-H I have heard) sounds genuine and sincere, not overly reverent or worshipful. The sure novelty of the Gully Low Jazz Band is that it only has one constant, the presence of David Ostwald. When Ostwald is asked to record, he assembles his band then under the Gully Low name. Pretty cool. Being associated with N-H helps as their stables are stocked with players totally empathetic with Ostwald and his traditional temperament. For this particular disc, he has assembled Marsalis alums Wycliffe Gordon and Herlin Riley, former Concord stablemates Howard Alden and Ken Peplowski, and fellow N-H cronies Mark Shane and Randy Sandke. This group executes as it appears too good to be true but it is true.
Miniduos. This disc is replete with vintage performance, but what is most fun is many of these pieces have duo breaks with the Howard Alden's guitar/banjo and another instrument. Alden joins Randy Sandke in a trumpet/banjo lovefest on the opening "Jubilee Stomp". Alden converses with Ken Peplowski on "Panama" and "Changes" and takes the helm alone on "When Day is Done". This arrangement technique adds a tautness and excitement to these time worn classics that makes them new and exciting. Outside of the playing of the aforementioned, Mark Shane shines on piano, always being in the right place at the right time in both solos and comps.
If you, the curious listener/reader, likes the old-timey, traditional sound of Bug Music or Wynton Marsalis trying to be Joe "King" Oliver, this disc (and many other Nagel-Heyers) is for you. If you don't like this music, learn to. It is the musical Old Testament of Jazz.
Personnel: David Ostwald: Tuba; Randy Sandke: Trumpet; Wycliffe Gordon: Trombone, Vocals; Ken Peplowski: Clarinet, Alto Saxophone; Mark Shane: Piano; Howard Alden: Banjo, Guitar; Herlin Riley: Drums.