| Reviewed by Paige Van Vorst
An exerpt from The Mississippi Rag,
Clarinetist Norrie Cox has been leading a one-man jazz revival
in the Milwaukee area, playing New Orleans jazz with his Stompers, West Coast
jazz with the Riverboat Ramblers, for your dining dancing pleasure with a trio,
and leading an inner-city youth jazz band sponsored by the Scouts.
This is a classic New Orleans band, a six-piece pianoless unit
playing in a largely ensemble style. There are no pyrotechnics here, unless you
are turned on (as I am) by hearing beautifully-recorded ensemble jazz by people
who actually understand how to play it...
The session leads off with a rousing rendition of "Big Chief
Battleaxe," a Bunk-associated number that probably shouldn't be played in these
politically correct times (Bill Russell, for one, played Indian songs only with
great reluctance as he thought them to be the Native American equivalent of Uncle
Tom), but which I can't resist.
"Ti-Pi-Tin," a swing-era anthem long in disuse until remembered
by New Orleans bands in the 1970s, is led off by a muted Charlie DeVore, runs
through several ensemble choruses before we hear from Klippert, then Cox, who
has a way of sort of easing into a solo - he starts off querulously, then picks
up steam three or four bars into the outing until he's really in a groove by the
"Ole Miss" is taken at what is ideal tempo for the number, exposing
the various themes beautifully without resorting to any of the "Bugle Call Rag"
flagwaving one associates with the theme...
"On the Trail to Home Sweet Home" (or "On the Road to Home Sweet
Home" as is shown on the tape) is one of the real rarities of New Orleans jazz.
Jim Robinson always spoke highly of his days with the Sam Morgan band and liked
to play Morgan numbers, but always complained that no one knew "On the Trail to
Home Sweet Home." DeVore finally told him that no one knew it because, unlike
the other Morgan numbers, it had never been recorded and no one had ever heard
it. Jim began humming it and, despite not having played the tune in over 40 years,
came up with the whole number correctly, and I'm glad. The band gives a performance
that would have gladdened Jim.
"Big Mamou" is the other rarity here. The only recording I've
ever heard of the tune was by Billie and DeDe Pierce in the Folkways "Music of
New Orleans" series. It's a simple but striking number with a half-Cajun, half-English
vocal from Klippert, and swings from beginning to end.
"New Iberia Blues" pays tribute to Bunk and features some superb
ensemble playing before getting into a series of "Joe Avery's Piece"-style breaks.
The recording is beautiful here and one can really get inside the music, particularly
when listening under headphones.
This is one cassette that I can't do without. The rhythm section
works well, with outstanding drumming from Berg and steady rhythm from Carrell
and Evans. One just doesn't get this kind of stuff much anymore...
Reprinted from The
Mississippi Rag, 3/94