Gregg Stafford & Dr. Michael White: Praying & Swaying - Vol. 1 "At the Cross"
The lines between blues, jazz and old time gospel sometimes get blurred when traditional jazz players get together. The three genres are honored on this meeting between Gregg Stafford and Dr. Michael White, both members of a generation when the traditional music no longer held the same place in the hearts and minds of jazz fans it once had. But these two keepers of the flame are New Orleans natives and for them, the music is in their blood. For almost 70 minutes, they reveal just what that heritage means as they present a program worthy of Preservation Hall.
On the Gospel side, the aggrieved Stafford trumpet pays its last homage to a dearly departed on "Flee as a Bird to the Mountain" with muffled drum roll from Taff Lloyd. The more gleeful, hallelujah I'm redeemed gospel gets revealed by White's clarinet on "Lead Me Savior" with Emil Mark's banjo doing rhythm duties. Hot jazz is front and center with " Bugle Call Rag" as White's wailing clarinet and Stafford's "dirty" trumpet go at each other full blast. There's a clever medley of "Bye & Bye" and traditional jazz's national anthem, "When the Saints Go Marching in". This track is one of four cuts where Stafford vocalizes in his Louis Armstrong derived manner. Of the blues cum jazz tunes, the Ellington/Bigard "Saturday Night Function" stands out. The second "29th & Dearborn" is a bonus track recorded in Toronto with White's clarinet taking the honors as Stafford is absent.
The two leaders are joined by veteran musicians well steeped in the ways of this music. Reide Kaiser's piano supports the melody and is featured on "Fusty Bottom Blues", while the banjo, bass and drums admirably perform their roles as the setter and keeper of the pace. This album is authentic stuff and is recommended.
Track Listing: Nobody's Fault But Mine*; 29th & Dearborn; I Shall Not Be Moved*; Saturday Night Function; Canal Street Blues; At the Cross; Fusty Bottom Blues; Medley: Bye & Bye/When the Saints Go Marching in*; Flee as a Bird to the Mountain; Lead Me Savior; Blues in the Night*; Bugle Call Rag; 29th & Dearborn
Personnel: Gregg Stafford - Trumpet/Vocals*; Dr. Michael White - Clarinet; Reide Kaiser - Piano; Emil Mark - Banjo; Colin Bray - Bass; Taff Lloyd - Drums