Monday, August 20, 2012

The New Orleans C.A.C. Jazz Orchestra Has A Mood Indigo

Often forgotten in Rounder Records recordings of New Orleans music in the 1980s and 1990s was the fact they did some straight ahead jazz recordings that are well worth noting. The following review of The New Orleans C.A.C. Jazz Orchestra appeared in the August 1998 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 230). I likely received a review copy from Rounder.

In 1996, Pianist David Torkanowsky put together a big band, The New Orleans C.A.C. Jazz Orchestra, with some of the Crescent City’s greatest musicians and fronted them with three of the city’s pre-eminent singers, George French, Germaine Bazzle and Johnny Adams. Its a band that includes Herlin Riley on drums, Nicholas Payton on trumpet, and Ed Peterson, Wessell Anderson and Victor Goines on reeds. They have a recording, Mood Indigo on Rounder.

The band is heard on a variety of standards from such pens as Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter and Percy Mayfield. It is refreshing to hear three distinct vocal styles backed by this swinging aggregation. George French’s take on Don’t Get Around Much Anymore has a sophisticated and relaxed flavor that brings Joe Williams to mind, which is reinforced by his rendition of Carmichael’s New Orleans, a song this writer is familiar with from the sixty five year old recording by Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra that included Count Basie and Jimmy Rushing.

On Sometimes I’m Happy, Germaine Bazzle provides a contrasting style as she phrases the lyrics in a staccato fashion, as if playing the lyrics on a trumpet. On the mid-tempo Ellington blues, I‘m Just a Lucky So and So, Bazzle in contrast caresses the lyric, singing in a legato fashion. On her last feature, Porter’s I Love Paris, Nicholas Payton is heavily featured with some hard bop trumpet.

Adams, sings very cleanly and precisely on Percy Mayfield’s Lost Mind, a staple of his repertoire, and on which he contributes a mouth trombone solo. The three join together on Mood Indigo, opening with three-part harmony with Bazzle taking the vocal lead on parts with some exquisite trombone solos from John Touchy and Mark Mullins, two persons this writer is unfamiliar with.

The recording closes with the three trading lyrics on a medley of Everyday I Have the Blues (featuring Bazzle), Stormy Monday (featuring French), and Not Trustworthy (featuring Adams on another Percy Mayfield lyric) that closes with the three singers each delivering their chosen lyric.

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