Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Marty Grosz and the Fat Babies Diga Diga Doo - Hot Music From Chicago

In an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, guitarist and vocalist Marty Grosz proudly states that "proudly that his art has always sought to entertain rather than lull audiences into a stupor with what he calls "egghead jazz."" Grosz, who is 85, has a new album on Delmark with the traditional Chicago Jazz band The Fat Babies entitled Diga Diga Doo - Hot Music From Chicago. As Grosz notes in the liner notes for the CD, he last recorded for Delmark in 1959 as a sideman for an Albert Nicholas and Art Hodes session. Matching him with string bassist Beau Sample's "Fat Babies" made sense although he already had pianist Jim Dapogny, while at the time of recording tenor saxophonist Jonathan Doyle was in town and his pal Panic Slim played on the 2014 session (the album was recorded in 2013 and 2014).

Grosz brought his guitar and banjo for these sessions and the presence of Doyle along with the reeds of John Otto make for some fascinating and fun listening. Cornetist Andy Schumm impresses throughout as does Doyle's robust old-school sax. Grosz is primarily a chordal acoustic player and his solos are really more in the nature of short breaks. There are plenty of musical delights, and fans of hot Chicago-styled jazz will find so much to enjoy. While Grosz may be limited as a vocalist, he does have a Fats Waller-ish charm on Sweet Sue. A delight is Prince of Wails, a number I am familiar with from the incendiary Benny Moten Band version (at the session that also included Moten Swing). This is a marvelous rendition with pianist Dapogny putting this together and contributing some fine piano while Doyle and Schumm excel. The title track by McHugh and Fields was a staple of Duke Ellington's Cotton Club revue and Schumm opens playing a comb wrapped in newspaper while pianist Asaro shows some stride influence with Otto on clarinet. Plenty of fun.

A couple of numbers include Grosz's vocals including The Lady of Red, as he scats and conjures a club with these lovely exotic ladies before the Hot Babies add their spirited playing. There is the charm and humor of Rose of Washington Square, a feature for Fanny Brice from the 1920 Ziegfeld Follies and a lovely rendition of Irving Berlin's How Deep Is The Ocean. There are tunes from the repertoire of the Louisiana Five, Red McKenzie and Eddie Lang as well as the chestnut, A Good Man Is Hard To Find.

After The Lady in Red, this CD concludes with Marty Talks as he reminiscences and indicates his preferences for hot music. Tagged on at the end, folks can easily skip if they choose. There is nothing deep, or "egghead" about the music on "Diga Diga Doo," just highly entertaining and well played hot Chicago jazz that will delight those who love "traditional" jazz.

I received my review copy from Delmark. Here is a video of Marty Grosz in performance.

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