New Orleans clarinetist Tim Laughlin is often referred to as the protege of Pete Fountain. Isle of Orleans proves, without a doubt, that Laughlin now stands on his own. This is a fun CD filled with original Laughlin tunes played in a traditional style. He brings together some of the best traditional players in New Orleans, with strong performances by cornetist Connie Jones, trombonists Lucien Barbarin and Rick Trolsen and sousaphonist/bassist Matt Perrine. Laughlin's deep woody clarinet is ever-present as he plays with, but never over, this great band.
Laughlin proves that he is more than a good clarinetist; he is also a great songwriter in the traditional jazz style. He brings freshness to a style of music that could get stale if overplayed and created a sound pleasant to modern ears, yet loyal to jazz's roots. He provides his band mates some substantive original music and it's evident that they're having infectious fun with it; this is not the usual "Muskrat Ramble" or "When the Saints Go Marching In."
The upbeat "Dumaine Street Breakdown" demonstrates Laughlin's strength as well as that of Jones and pianist Tom McDermott. The title track is infused with a Spanish tinge that exemplifies the multicultural nature of early traditional jazz in New Orleans. An album highlight is the slow and melodic "It's My Love Song To You," with Philip Manuel's beautiful voice and Jason Marsalis' flawless vibraphone solo.
Isle of Orleans shows where traditional New Orleans jazz can go in the 21st century. Hopefully Laughlin's lead will be followed by others: staying true to the roots of jazz while creating new material that is pleasant, fresh and modern.
Track Listing: Dumaine Street Breakdown; Restless Heart; Suburban Street Parade; Blues for Faz; I Know I'll See You Again; The Isle of Orleans; The Gentilly Strut; It's My Love Song To You; Magnolia Dance; March of the Uncle Bubbys; Crescent City Moon; Monkey Hill.
Personnel: Tim Laughlin: clarinet; Connie Jones: cornet; Rick Trolsen: trombone (1, 2, 5, 6, 8-10); Lucien Barbarin: trombone (3, 4, 7, 10); Tom McDermott: piano (1, 3-6, 8-10); John Royen: piano (2, 7, 11, 12); Matt Perrine: bass, sousaphone; Hal Smith: drums; John Eubanks: rhythm guitar (1, 5, 7-9, 11, 12)' Frankie Lynne: banjo and vocals (2, 5); Jason Marsalis: vibraphone (5, 8, 12); Phillip Manuel: vocals (8).