In the tradition of the small groups of the 1930's and 40's like those led by John Kirby, Charlie Shavers, Teddy Wilson and Louis Jordan, comes Duke Heitger, his trumpet and his swing band. Like its historical antecedents, this small group sounds bigger than it is because of refreshing arrangements and imaginative use of instrumentation. Heitger, a veteran of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, has brought together an outstanding set of musicians to pay tribute to New Orleans traditional jazz. Dan Barrett is one of the leading contemporary jazz men on trombone. Rebecca Kilgore has an impressive set of credentials as a vocalist. Heitger not only takes advantage of her singing prowess on such tunes as "Rhythm Is our Business", but takes advantage of her guitar skills as well. Reedmen Tom Fischer and Brian Ogilvie (from Joe Ascione's Octet) are responsible for the hot clarinet and swinging saxophones. The rhythm section of David Boeddinghaus, Kerry Lewis and Chris Tyle are expert in laying down the timing and beat which sets New Orleans jazz apart. Boeddinghaus displays his stride technique on "That's My Home".
But what makes this session literally fly is the play list. While there are a few familiar standards present, most of the tunes are those which aren't heard all that often. After hearing them performed by Heitger's group, one wonders why. Ellington is represented by "Swing Pan Alley" and "Stevedore Stomp". On the latter there's some incredible hot clarinet by Fischer. Hear him also on Roy Eldridge's "Swinging on the Famous Door". Kilgore does a modified version of "Murder He Says", not nearly as frantic as Betty Hutton's when she introduced it in the film Happy Go Lucky. There's some unNew Orleans' like tenor sax by Messrs. Ogilvie and Fischer. Chestnuts by Lester Young, Jimmie Lunceford, Gene Krupa and Roy Eldridge, and Louis Armstrong are part of the out of the ordinary program. Heitger who chips in from time to time with his Jack Teagarden like vocals, sticks mainly with his hot trumpet, but not so hot as to become boorish.
It's gratifying to know that there are others than the "old time" musicians out there keeping this great music alive and very well, thank you. Heitger and crew have put together a great swinging session. The combination of good tunes, fine musicians, engaging solos and solid ensemble work makes for a highly recommended album.
Personnel: Duke Heitger - Trumpet/Leader/Vocals; Dan Barrett - Trombone; Brian Ogilvie - Tenor Sax; Tom Fischer - Clarinet/Tenor Sax/Alto Sax/Soprano Sax; David Boeddinghaus - Piano; Rebecca Kilgore - Vocals/Guitar; Hank Mackie - Guitar; Kerry Lewis - Bass; Chris Tyle - Drums