312

Dewey Jackson: Live at the Barrel 1952

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
An exact contemporary of Louis Armstrong, St. Louis trumpet player Dewey Jackson (1900-1966) claimed that his favorite players of the instrument were Louis Desvigne, Johnny Dunn and Tommy Ladnier. Approximately one percent of you are nodding your heads sagely at this point, saying, "Ah, another trumpeter from the Desvigne-Dunn-Ladnier school of jazz; marvelous," while the rest of us (myself included, sadly) are nonplussed.

Live at the Barrel 1952 is nevertheless not only for the archivists and other members of that privileged one percent, though they should certainly check this out: producer Bob Koester, who recorded this gig in St. Louis in 1952, cheerfully points out that this release triples Jackson's discography (he had previously recorded for Vocallion in 1926 and Okeh in 1927).

For the generalist jazz fan as well, this recording offers a host of delights. The sound is surprisingly punchy: producer Koester himself recorded the gig standing in the aisle in front of the stage and pointing the mic at whoever happened to be soloing.

Among the highlights:

On the opening "That's a Plenty," Jackson takes a solo late in the number (as he does on most of the tracks), starting off tentatively with little breathless jabs, like he just ran up the stairs. This is followed, mischievously, by soaring, sustained notes of extravagant virtuosity. It's not an isolated moment: Jackson solos with consistent bravado.

And then there's pianist Don Ewell. According to one creation myth of jazz, Jelly Roll Morton put a 4/4 beat under a 2/4 rag and—voilà—jazz was born (Morton himself, on the Library of Congress Recordings he made with Alan Lomax, espouses this view). "Maple Leaf Rag," a showcase here for Ewell, provides an example of what that sounds like. This version, furthermore, improves upon Morton's pedagogy, as drummer Booker T. Washington provides a swing rhythm underneath, emphasizing the two and four beats (rather than the one and three as would have been more conventional in a late twenties rendition). Wonderful!

The record is proof, in case it's needed, that the depths of jazz are unfathomable. Playing as fine as this came decades after it was fashionable, far removed from the jazz capitals of the era. The same music, performed in the late 1920s, was at the cutting edge of artistic innovation and commercial success. At the dawn of bebop, this music would be the rallying cry for the so-called moldy figs, the opponents (like poet Philip Larkin) of jazz progress. By the early 1950s, off the beaten path and out of the limelight, these musicians could take their ease amidst an appreciative audience, sounding not like museum exhibits, but lively and joyful and of their time—whatever the date.

Track Listing: That's A Plenty; Bucket's Got a Hole in It; Bugle Call Rag; St. James Infirmary; Tiger Rag; Tishamingo; High Society; Maple Leaf Rag; When the Saints Go Marching In; Royal Garden Blues.

Personnel: Dewey Jackson: trumpet; Don Ewell: piano; Frank Chace: clarinet; Sid Dawson: trombone; Booker T. Washington: drums.

Title: Live at the Barrel 1952 | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Delmark Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Two in a Box CD/LP/Track Review Two in a Box
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Discussions CD/LP/Track Review Discussions
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Gratitude" CD/LP/Track Review Gratitude
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 10, 2017
Read "Very Early" CD/LP/Track Review Very Early
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Before The Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Evolution - Seeds and Streams" CD/LP/Track Review Evolution - Seeds and Streams
by Phil Barnes
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 7, 2017
Read "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" CD/LP/Track Review Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 31, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.