There seems to be a small but lively revival of swing music from the 1920's and 30's. Don Neely's San Francisco based Royal Society Jazz Orch. has been issuing CDs which delve into the charts from this period. Now along comes the Boilermaker Jazz Band out of Pittsburgh, PA headed by clarinetist Paul Cosentino. Cosentino uses the pretty much discarded complex Albert system of playing which was taught by the well known New Orleans clarinet teacher, Lorenzo Tio, Jr., in the early 1900's. Among his more famous pupils were Sidney Bechet and Barney Bigard. Using this system, Cosentino's clarinet takes on a soulful, sometimes mournful, mahogany sound which works well with the music and the style he plays it in which comes close to, but doesn't quite reach, New Orleans traditional.
All of the music on this set was written between 1902 and 1939 and most of it is played in an up tempo manner. But there are some surprises. We tend to forget that Latin rhythms were favored by the early New Orleans jazz players and Cosentino's group reminds us of that with "Siboney" with Gerry Gagnon's quivering trombone taking the lead. The waltz "In the Good Old Summertime" is done as a rip roaring barrelhouse swinger. "Little Grass Shack" has an uncredited singer backed by the banjo instead of ukelele. The more senior of us may recall that this tune was a favorite of Arthur Godfrey who did use a ukelele. One of the more engaging tracks is a blusey, melodic Cosentino clarinet on "If I Had You" followed by that unknown crooner.
Calling this group a band may be a bit of an overstatement. The biggest it gets is seven pieces. The quartet format is used for six tracks and a trio for one. But whatever the configuration, the outcome is an exciting, spirited and fun-filled session. Recommended.
Personnel: Paul Cosentino - Clarinet/Leader; Clint Baker - Trumpet; Dan Davisson - Banjo; Gerry Gagnon - Trombone; Ernest McCarty - Bass; Tom Roberts - Piano; Rich Strong - Drums