Saturday, October 20, 2018

Waxing Nostalgic:Blockbustin' Dixie

This was another early lp purchase by a young trumpet student and jazz fan.
It introduced me to New Orleans style Dixieland and the talents of Al Hirt,Pete Fountain and Bob Havens.

Al, I had seen on TV a few times.I was impressed by his awesome technique and showmanship,although I could see that taste wasn't one of his talents.
Pete,who I'd seen on the Lawrence Welk show , was always a natural,swinging player with shades of the  great Irving Fazola. We also get the bonus of his booting tenor sax with shades of hometown boys Eddie Miller and Lester Bouchon.
Another future Welk member was Bob Havens who was playing with Al in New Orleans when these
sides were made (1956).He had as much technique as Al,but knew how to ration it and there touches of the great Jack Teagarden.He became one of my favorite trombonists.

The Rhythm section is made up of three New Orleans pros-Roy Zimmerman,piano-Bob Coquille,
bass and Paul Edwards,drums. Along with Al and Pete,they put in time with such New Orleans
bands as the Dukes of Dixieland,Sharkey Bonano,Tony Almerico and George Girard.
Roy gets in a few short solos and sounds great.Coquille and Edwards give solid support with Edwards getting in some nice tags.

Despite the Bombastic tendencies of Al,the Band does use some nice dynamics and uses a cute trick
of jumping up a step on the A strain to Panama.
As mentioned Pete gets in some rollicking Tenor choruses on Washington and Lee. He also plays
some Tenor on Wolverine Blues,a nice cut that is ruined by Al' pyro techniques on the out chorus. At
least they come down in Volume on the reprieve.
Other highlights include a mellow tune,I'm Goin' Home,written by two New Orleans boys    Paul Mares, Pinky Vidacovitch and ex-N.O. Rhythm King,Mel Stitzel.
Pete gets to stretch out on Tin Roof Blues,always a great showcase for his Low Register improvisations.(he recorded a similar version with the Dukes of Dixieland,the previous year.)
He definetly listened to fellow homeboy,Irving Fazola.
Bob gets the feature on Blue and Broken Hearted with some of his Teagarden-ish licks on display.
At age 26,he was a mature soloist and in 1960 would join the Lawrence Welk show for a 12 year run.
Al's feature is Night and Day,where he goes into a Double-Timed exhibition of his great technique.
Not much jazz here,but some amazing Trumpet work!

Many years later,I can still enjoy this session that features three giants of their instruments playing
some great Traditional favorites along with the aforementioned features.
It's currently available on the CD, The Best of Dixieland-Al Hirt on Verve records.

Also heard is Jazz Me Blues, South Rampart St. Parade,Sugar,Dixieland One Step and Royal Garden Blues.