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Marty Grosz: Hooray For Bix!

C. Andrew Hovan By

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A native of Germany, guitarist and vocalist Marty Grosz's especial personality has been part of the traditional jazz scene since the early '50s. Growing up in New York and later moving to Chicago, Grosz has played over the years with renown musicians such as Dick Wellstood, Art Hodes, Jabbo Smith, and the group Soprano Summit. Still active today, Grosz's Hooray For Bix! was originally cut for Riverside in 1957 and it not only pays homage to its namesake, '20s and '30s cornet wizard Bix Beiderbecke, but also serves as a watermark of the '50s revivalist movement.

Like one of his inspirations, Eddie Condon, Grosz works out on a guitar of the four-string variety and his main function here is of a rhythmic thrust, with two fine vocals thrown in to boot. In deference to Beiderbecke's horn of choice, co- leader Carl Halen opts for the use of a cornet, an instrument seldom used these days in jazz. The rest of the band is filled out with instruments representative of your normal Dixieland-type ensemble, and while none of the men have any major name recognition, they all play with skill and fervor. Frank Chace's robust baritone sax work is particularly lovely, as is his breathy clarinet stylings, which are very much akin to that of Pee Wee Russell.

A shrewd decision on the parts of Grosz and Halen was to go for material that was a bit left-of-center from the obvious, so don't expect to hear "Singin' the Blues" or "In a Mist." In fact, the only Beiderbecke original turns out to be "For No Reason At All." That's all just fine though, because this set proves to be a bit more poetic than similar sessions of this ilk. Even those with a bit of apprehension towards music of this genre will find something to like here, as solo space for all is copious and collective improvisation is kept at a minimum. As an added bonus, Dave Jones' beautiful early stereo manifests each instrument with clarity and warmth.


Track Listing: Changes, Cryin' All Day, Lonely Melody, I'm Gonna Meet My Sweetie Now, Sorry, My Pet, The Love Nest, Clementine, Oh Miss Hannah, Wa-Da-Da (Eveybody's Doin' It Now), For No Reason At All in 'C', Because My Baby Don't Mean Maybe Now (45:34)

Personnel: Marty Grosz- guitar and vocals; Carl Halen- cornet, Turk Santos- second cornet (tracks 6 & 12 only), guitar (track 9 only); Harry Budd- trombone; Frank Chace- clarinet & baritone sax, Bob Skiver- clarinet & tenor sax; Tut Soper- piano, Chuck Neilson- bass, Pepper Boggs- drums

Title: Hooray For Bix! | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz

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