Big Bill Bissonnette's quest to keep the flame of New Orleans jazz burning bright with Jazz Crusade label continues. Not only is he successful in making this important music available, but he is equally successful in garnering some of the best players in the world to perform it. And "world" is what we're taking about here. Of the two front line stars of this album, Gregg Stafford is from New Orleans and born into the tradition. The second, Brian Carrick, comes from the other side of the Atlantic where he is a top traditional jazz performer in the UK. Different nationalities notwithstanding, traditional jazz can bring together like minded musicians irrespective of their geographic derivation.
Many of the items on the play list are usually associated with Louis Armstrong. While it's hard to think of any of this music not associated with Armstrong, "A Kiss to Build a Dream on", "High Society", "Basin Street Blues" and "Blueberry Hill" have a special association with Satchmo. Stafford uses Armstrong's opening for "A Kiss to Build a Dream on", a slow chorus emphasizing every note like he is singing through the trumpet. The interplay between Stafford and Carrick makes "Blueberry Hill" one of the album's highlights. Stafford plays the melody, while Carrick extemporizes underneath. But it is "Basin Street Blues" that is the CD's tour de force. This Spencer Williams classic gets an eight minute workout with everyone getting a chance to take a few measures. Stafford's expressive vocalizing is icing on the cake. The arrangement of "Honeysuckle Rose" is relaxed and Carrick's smooth, middle register clarinet takes the honors.
Stafford and Carrick are handsomely backed by a fine veteran group of musicians. Emil Mark's piano is especially active on all the cuts, comping to accent the statement the two solists are making on a particular track. Mark also gets some significant solo time on such tunes as "Streets of the City". This CD offers generous 70+ minutes of fine traditional jazz and is highly recommended.
Personnel: Gregg Stafford - Trumpet/Vocals*; Brian Carrick - Clarinet; Emil Mark - Piano; Colin Bray - Bass; Sven Stahlberg - Drums