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Bob Brookmeyer & Bob Cutshall (trombone), James Morreale & Rusty Dedrick (trumpet), Jerry Dodgion (alto sax), Pepper Adams (barritone sax), Zoot Sims & Joe Farrell (tenor sax), Bob Wilber (soprano sax and clarinet), Wayne Wright (Guitar), Buddy Jones (Bass), Dave McKenna (piano), Morey Feld (drums)
(Recorded at A&R Studios and Capital Studios in New York, January 30, March 13 and 30, May 2, 1967)
Tin Roof Blues
When The Saints Go Marching In
Basin Street Blues
Royal Garden Blues
Original Dixieland One Step
Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans
Album Notes: Figuratively and literally, the international reputation of Creole cooking owes more than a little to peripatetic musicians from New Orleans. Their preferences in tunes and dishes are well known to the jazz audience throughout the world.
Bobby Hackett has taken the familiar ingredients and, like a good chef, added that distinctive touch which makes his an entirely personal interpretation of the traditional. In this, his musical kitchen, he has been devotedly assisted by Bob Wilber, who serves in the triple capacity of arranger, clarinetist and soprano saxophonist.
A glance at the "menu" will show that it contains a good proportion of time-honored standards, along with some that have won general acceptance in more recent years. They are presented in a way that keeps faith with the past in principle and character, while adding a puquant flavor of the contemporary.
"When Bobby approached me," Wilber said, "he told me he didn't want the arrangements to sound like those of Bob Crosby's big band, but that he wanted to retain the spirit without getting gimmicky."
Just how well this assignment was fulfilled will soon be evident when the record is heard. Although some of the musicians were by no means familiar with the idiom, they were clearly comfortable enough in playing Wilber's tasteful and informed scores, which supplement the leader's solos so admirably.
Bobby Hackett's integrity as a musician has never been questioned in the course of his long career. Time and circumstances have shifted the backdrop behind him frequently, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, but the music that has proceeded from his mellow horn has always had dignity, warmth and a feeling of commitment. Without either bowing to fashion or ignoring it, he has managed to maintain and express an individual conception of what is right and proper in his chosen field of musical endeavor.
Like all jazzmen of his generation, he was profoundly influenced by Louis Armstrong, the creator of what is virtually the classical language of jazz. Bobby was soon fluent in it, and he uses it skillfully to communicate emotions basic to humanity, rather than those concomitant with sociological or political postures.
Never an exhibitionist, he often plays with an aerial mobility that suggests an affinity with another famous cornetist, Bix Beiderbecke. Had the latter lived, we do not know how he would have reacted to the pressures and rewards of the last three decades. Probably, like Bobby, he would have gone his own way, impervious to demands for technical extravagance and blatemt eccentricity, because he too had studied the art of the master cooks from New Orleans, those great teachers who arrived in Chicago during the '20s.
The past, in any case, always echoes in numbers like High Society, Tin Roof Blues, Basin Street Blues and Muskrat Ramble. They are recipes that demand a certain overall character, but they are all subject to variation in the same way that the composition of gumbo, jambalaya and courtbouillon is dependent on the contents of the kitchen. In fact, there is no standard recipe for any of the famous New Orleans dishes, and the dishes presented here have never been cooked in quite this fashion before.
There are, of course, bright, brazen pieces like High Society, Fidgety Feet and Original Dixieland One Step that recapture the feeling of the marching bands, but Messrs. Hackett and Wilber are out to tickle the discriminating palate, as with their duet on the first title or Zoot Sim's solo on the second. Wilber switches to soprano on the sorrowing Tin Roof Blues, and there is a trombone duet besides the leader's moving solo. "The Saints" march somewhat unceremoniously, with far more humor than is customary. (Maybe it has something to do with ecumenism?) Basin Street Blues, Royal Garden Blues and Muskrat Ramble are excellent band arrangements in which Wilber's voicings sometimes suggest Duke Ellington's, particulalry when he plays soprano in the reed section. Hackett's relaxed authority is striking on these, as is his lyricism in the last three titles, where there is a return to a gentler mood. He duets prettily with Wilber on Hoagy Carmichael's New Orleans and leads commandingly on Eddie Miller's Lazy Mood, which appropriately re-introduces Zoot Sims.
The adjective to go with this cuisine is "appetizing." Dig in!
- Stanley Dance