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Ricky Alexander: Just Found Joy

Ricky Alexander: Just Found Joy
The odd picture on the cover of Ricky Alexander's Just Found Joy is neither a takeaway from The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (Capitol, 1966) album cover, nor a play on the GOAT acronym. Actually, the album art was photographed at the Store Barns Farm in Downstate New York. This is a superb album of a dozen (less one original) older classic hits played by traditional jazz adepts—if not GOATS—who excel performing in this genre.

"People Will Say We're in Love" from Oklahoma, more associated with Broadway than hot jazz environs, kicks things off with Alexander's soaring clarinet and fine rides from all. Chanteuse Vanisha Gould covers "Sweet Lorraine" with Ricky also singing in light swing with Alexander and on soprano sax responding. Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp" (which he described as ..." the favorite of every hot band throughout the world"), is a romp combining Alexander's horn screaming on top, Jon-Erik Kellso's cornet crooning, and Dalton Ridenhour's keys on fire. It is a standout track. "Promenade," an Alexander original, is a lilting two-stepper with soprano resonant a la Sidney Bechet. Guitarist Brennan Ernst offers a brief statement before the crew takes it all out.

Alexander's full-sounding soprano is virile, raw, yet melodious and swinging. His clarinet, less vigorous, can shine as well. His arrangements here highlight and frame the soloists while bringing the ensemble into play. Jon-Erik Kellso, probably the GOAT cornet in this tradition currently on the scene, is a thrill to hear. The rhythm section of Brennan Ernst, Jon Thomas, Dalton Ridenhour, Rob Adkins and Kevin Dorn are stellar.

Kellso's gritty growling mute highlights the fiery swinging "Just One of Those Things." New Orleans-born "High Society" is a swinger sort and the star track on the session. Duelists Kellso and Alexander fry this up and Dalton Ridenhour's piano is pure Perdido Street. "Fine and Dandy" has vocalist Gould back to start the dance party and where Alexander offers his best clarinet ride. "The Touch of Your Lips," more often taken a ballad, is here done in a swing style. "Rubber Plant Rag," composed at the start of the 20th century, is a barrelhouse two-beat rag with Alexander's clarinet virtuosity leading the parade to a close.

Just Found Joy lives up to its title and is an entertaining and vivacious effort.

Track Listing

People Will Say We’re in Love, Sweet Lorraine, King Porter Stomp, Promenade, It Had to Be You, Just One of Those Things, High Society, Fine and Dandy, Don’t Blame Me, Spring Is Here, The Touch of Your Lips, Rubber Plant Rag.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Just Found Joy | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Turtle Bay Records


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