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Yank Lawson (tr), Bob "Cutty" Cutshall (trombone), Charles "Pee Wee" Russell (cl), Dave McKenna (p), Bob Haggart (bass), Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar), Tony Mottola (guitar), Willie Bobo (dr), Ed Shaughnessy (dr), Victor Pantoja (dr), Bobby Rosengarden (dr), Chico Hamilton (dr)
(Released in 1966)
Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
Ka Boom Boom
Bossa Nova Noche
Where Did I Find You?
I Cried In The Night
Album Notes: John Ray "Big Yank" Lawson came out of the middle west thirty years ago with a musical tiger in his tank.
Born in Trenton, Missouri, they "showed him" about music in high school, where he voiced his sentiments on an alto saxophone. When he got to the state university, he showed the Missouri Tigers marching band he was a natural-born trumpet player - and he was right!
Big Yank is, and has been, one of America's most versatile born virtuosos; having been featured at one time or another with practically all of the different types of orchestras in the popular music field: dance bands (Will Osbornem Ben Pollock); swing bands (Bob Crosby, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman); stage show bands (Richard Himber, Abe Lyman); pit bands (for Louisiana Purchase); radio orchestras (Ben Bernie, the Manhattan Merry-Go-Round band); studio orchestras accompanying Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Pearl Bailey, Jackie Gleason and others for recordings, radio, and TV; and jazz groups (Bob Crosby's Bob Cats, Eddie Condon's Band, and his own Yankee Clippers).
On Ole' Dixie, Big Yank's joyful Dixieland horn, his Yankee Clippers get together with some Latin percussion to create an exciting LP in the latest mode. The "Lawson Sound" is played with a new beat, a fusion of the Latin American percussion with an American jazz pulsation.
On three of the great Dixieland jazz standards (Wolverine Blues, Muscrat Ramble, Fidgety Feet) and a new bossa nova tune (Bossa Nova Noche) guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and drummers Willie Bobo, Victor Pantoja and Chico Hamilton augment the Clippers rhythm to give a bouncy south-of-the-border frame work. It not only makes for an interesting effect, but also brings a new dimension to the solo improvisations of Lawson's horn, open and muted; Pee Wee Russell's clarinet; Cutshall's trombone and McKenna's piano. The tone of these tracks is set with Side I, Track I, where the up-to-date beat introduces the rousing Dixie ensemble on Fidgety Feet.
A slightly revised rhythm accompaniment is used for such contemporary melodies as Daydream, written by young John Sebastian - son of the famed harmonica virtuoso - and featured by The Lovin' Spoonful group; Bang Bang, a number featured by the Sonny Bono; and Tijuana, by George Cates of the Lawrence Welk organization. These tunes, along with bassist Bob Haggart's beautiful ballad What's New?, have a rhythm section made up of percussionist Ed Shaughnessy, drummer Hamilton, and Tony Mottola on guitar, in addition to bassist Haggart. The latter showcases his famed whistling technique on Daydream; the whistling is at a faster tempo than on the classic Big Noise from Winnetka. On this set of tracks there is again a new feeling engendered by the musical mixture of improvisations on the familiar tunes under the influence of a unique Latin Background.
For Jerry Fielding's Ka Boom Boom, Where Did I Find You?, and Lawson's ballad, I Cried In The Night, Pizzarelli is back on guitar and percussionist Booby Rosengarden replaces Shaughnessy. The comparatively short Ka Boom Boom features the Lawson horn muted all the way through with several short answering phrases from the other voices with the Latin rhythm flavored in spots by the guitar. On the ballades there are improvisations in a melodically pretty vein by all the horn voices with Lawson playing sans mute.
This album is a listening proof that the various musical backgrounds can offer each other stimulating and new ideas when the fusion is being handled by musicians with the competency of the players presented on 'Ole Dixie.
- George Hoefer
Associate Editor, Jazz Magazine
Contributor, Down Beat