Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thomas Jefferson With His New Orleans Creole Jazz Band

New Orleans trumpeter, Thomas Jefferson, was best known as a leader of traditional jazz bands. The Chicago native came to the Crescent City early in his life. In the 1930s he led a band that included vocalist Smiley Lewis and pianist Tuts Washington, both individuals who were legendary figures in New Orleans music in the fifties and sixties. Jefferson is more obscure, but a release on George Buck's GHB label, With The New Orleans Creole Jazz Band 1961 provides us a glimpse of his music.

This disc was originally issued on the Southland label and brings together two sessions. One session had Jefferson with a small group led by drummer Monk Hazel that also included Armand Hug on piano, Sherwood Manglapane on bass and whistling and Joe Caprano on guitar. The other session was with Jefferson's band that included Sam Dutrey on clarinet, Waldren 'Frog' Joseph (Kirk's father) on trombone, Lester Santiago on piano, Gerry Adams on bass and Paul Barbarin on drums. 

Listening to Jefferson's trumpet, vocal and repertoire it is apparent that Jefferson was under the influence of Louis Armstrong. He is a melodic trumpeter and singer whose music has a genial quality that is very easy to listen to as evident on the opening In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree. Caprano is wonderful with his single note backing to the vocal on Breeze. The traditional Back O'Town Blues, is a nice mix of gut bucket and sophistication with Jefferson's low-key vocal with excellent backing (Caprano's playing under the vocal is again marvelous).

The session with his Creole Jazz Band has a different feel with its three horn front line. Blues From Yesterday opens as Frog Joseph and Santiago accompany his vocal. It is followed by a cleanly played version of Dippermouth Blues. Other songs at this session include swing staples If I Could Be With You, and "Rose Room," as well as another staple of New Orleans jazz Basin Street Blues. The vocalist on the band's cover of Billie Holiday's Fine and Mellow, is not identified but does a nice take with Jefferson adding nice trumpet behind her vocal. The spirited Mardi Gras Parade closes this extremely entertaining album of swinging New Orleans jazz.

I purchased this CD.

No comments: