Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The J Street Jumpers Were Good For Stompin’

The Washington DC area has long been a hotbed for jump blues and swing dancing. One of the popular bands in the area was The Uptown Rhythm Kings fronted by Eric “Shoutin’” Sheridan, a singer with considerable personality. After Sheridan left the Washington area, the band morphed into the J Street Jumpers with guitarist Rusty Bogart and pianist Artie Gerstein anchoring the group. Bogart subsequently left the Washington area making us poorer for his encyclopedic knowledge of jazz and blues guitar styles, his driving playing, his constant swing and good taste and the Jumpers themselves are now history although others still keep the local jump blues-swing dance grooves alive. This review of their Severn release, Good For Stompin’, appeared originally in the December 2003-January 2004 DC Blues Calendar although I have made a few minor stylistic edits.

The brief swing revival has seemed to die down as a national craze, but its clear that nothing made Brian Seltzer’s Orchestra or groups like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy any better than countless bands that had been playing such music back at least three decades when Roomful of Blues and Powerhouse were making noise. Proof of this is evident from Good For Stompin’, the new Severn Records release by The J Street Jumpers. It is a handsomely sounding and swinging big little band disc with some fine playing by the entire band and some lovely vocals from the

featured singer Carmen Velarde, who sings wonderfully in a blues-ballad vein including lovely renditions of several songs from Count Basie’s songbook, including Blue and Sentimental. She does not come across quite as convincing on the hot-tempoed rendition of Louis Jordan’s Fire, although the band rocks very hard here, but on the slow ballads and pop tunes she is wonderful with her rendition of the Buddy Johnson hit, Til My Baby Comes Back to Me. She also capably delivers, I Don’t Hurt Anymore, from the Dinah Washington repertoire.

Pianist Artie Gerstein sings enthusiastically if not quite as distinctively as Ms. Verlande, with his rocking I Want You I Need You featuring a booting tenor sax solo and slashing guitar from Rusty Bogart, that displays Bogart’s synthesis of such masters as T-Bone Walker and Gatemouth Brown. I don’t want to sound overly critical about this as it is a wonderful disc, and the Jumpers play splendidly, have wonderful tight arrangements and are a first rate band. Furthermore, this disc will certainly make for very happy dancing feet.

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