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The Kinda Dixie Jazz Band were one of the big hits of the 2003 Mammoth Lakes Jazz Jubilee in California's Sierra Nevadas. Trombonist/leader Jim Fitzgerald, who wears the raconteur hat as if he were born to it, led his eminently entertaining sextet through an upbeat, wild-eyed set that ranged from vibrant Four Freshmen vocal arrangements to trumpeter Ed Sherry's dead-on Ziggy Elman recreations and even Ray Stevens' "Mississippi Squirrel Revival." This new album captures much of the band's live spirit and flawless musicianship.
Kinda Dixie is the house band at Las Vegas' Gold Coast Casino, which should give you some idea of where their brand of showmanship comes from. This set is heavy on traditional jazz favorites, including "That's A Plenty," "Autumn Leaves," "Moten Swing," "Jazz Me Blues," and Elman's signature tune, "And The Angels Sing." That one is a particular highlight; the vocals are firmly in the bright Freshmen vein, and Sherry's amazingly faithful technique on trumpet must be heard to be believed.
The disc also contains a good share of surprises: Shorty Rogers' chart on "Greensleeves," Horace Silver's "The Preacher," and an outrageous interpretation of "Hawaiian War Chant" that closes the disc, leaving the listener wanting much more. About the only down spot is Acker Bilk's "Stranger on the Shore," into which almost no one can inject much life. All in all, Kinda Dixie more than deliver on the promise of hot jazz and a fun time for everyone. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: That's A Plenty; Hey Good Lookin'; The Preacher; Blue Prelude; Moten Swing; Autumn Leaves;
Greensleeves; Stranger on the Shore; Cherokee; Birth of the Blues; And the Angels Sing; Sunday;
Things Ain't What They Used To Be; Just In Time; Jazz Me Blues; The Second Line; Hawaiian War
Personnel: Jim Fitzgerald, trombone, vocals; Steve Johnson, reeds, vocals; Ed Sherry, trumpet; Dan Ellis,
piano, vocals; Ed Lemley, bass, guitar, vocals; Paul Testa, drums.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.