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On the occasion of these sessions Ellington alum Bigard and Hodes, one of the most of revered proponents of classic New Orleans inspired jazz found themselves thrown together for the taping of a series of television concerts. Seizing the opportunity to make several sidetrips to the studio the two recorded the baker’s dozen of tracks collected on this disc with two small combos ideally suited to their brand of traditional swinging jazz. The resulting music wasn’t in league with either man’s best work but still demonstrated that each could still play with the passion and focus that solidified their place in the history books in first place.
Remarkably these sessions were the first time Bigard and Hodes had ever recorded together, the product of perennially busy schedules as in-demand leaders and sidemen. Though a long time in the works their eventual meeting proved well worth the wait. The emphasis is rightfully on having a collective good time rather than proving anything that has already long since been proven by their respective careers. From the bar-room vernacular of the title track featuring the multifaceted drum work of the always swinging Barrett Deems to the leisurely bed-room winks of “Makin’ Whoopee” the music is consistently enjoyable. A further benefit lies in the producers’ decision to mixes the tunes up between quartet and sextet groupings of the musicians. The tunes adding Trottier and Brunis fill out the ensemble sound with attractive brass accents whereas the quartet numbers focus rightful attention on Bigard and Hodes as soloists. It’s a nice balance that keeps the program interesting and avoids stale repetition. Bigard’s clarinet musings that shift from ruminatively quiet to boisterously rowdy and back again on “Three Little Words” are an excellent example of the mood set by the musicians. In sum, this disc delivers a welcome chance to revisit these players in their twilight years, reminiscing on the classics and still having a swell time doing it. Anyone who harbors a love classic New Orleans jazz should take the time to give this historic meeting their time and attention.
Track Listing: Bucket
Personnel: Barney Bigard- clarinet; Art Hodes- piano; Rail Wilson- double bass; Barrett Deems- drums; Nap Trottier- trumpet; George Brunis- trombone.