At the time this music was captured for posterity in 1965, trombonist Jim Robinson had been working as a professional musician for almost forty years. That work experience in the traditional New Orleans styleRobinson had previously worked under the leadership of both Bunk Johnson and clarinetist George Lewiscomes out here in a program of music both vigorous and joyful.
To hear something like "Right Now Is The Right Time is to hear music that perhaps predated recording technology, played not with the clinical efficiency of so many of the present day conservatives, but instead with a lust for life that's nothing short of joyous.
Cornet player Johnny Wiggs might have taken his cues from Muggsy Spanier with his no-frills lead playing, as is evident on "Atlanta Blues, where Robinson's tailgating is a consequence of his wealth of experience. Clarinetist Raymond Burke hints at Pee Wee Russell's tentativeness on this one, but he was evidently wise enough to realize that Russell was ultimately inimitable.
Evidence that the cold hand of reverence had no part to play in these proceedings comes in the form of "Postman's Lament, where Robinson gets down and dirty at the same time as he's looking up at the stars, and Japanese drummer Yoichi Kimura proves, through a lot more than his mere presence, that the vocabulary of this music was, in its unassuming way, a kind of international language. The fact that a dissimilar but equally joyous spirit infuses an alternate take of the same piece also underscores how, in the hands of men like these, this was anything but music of sterile routine.
Robinson's vocal on "Bye And Bye helpfully emphasizes the point for any listener who still hasn't got it, alive as it is with a spirit and fire against which technical facility seems merely incidental.
Whatever the sentiment behind a title like "Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet, it too is alive with a joyous spirit, even if that is the product of sadness. The contradiction implicit in such a point seems unworthy of consideration, and Wiggs' muted playing underscores the point.
When it comes down to it this is music to lift the spirit, and it achieves that end in abundance. On a deeper level it also amounts to history on disc, a moment in time when even the most venerable strands of the tradition had abundant life left in them.
Personnel: Johnny Wiggs: cornet; Jim Robinson: trombone, vocal (7); Raymond Burke: clarinet; Bob Greene: piano; Allan Jaffe: tuba; Yoichi Kimura: drums.