THE DUKES OF DIXIELAND, HEARING IS BELIEVINGReviewed by Joe H. Klee
This is a good record for the blindfold test. Put on any track and you'll find good dixieland band out of New Orleans playing good dixieland jazz. But who is it? Give up? It's the Dukes of Dixieland!
Today's Dukes work out of a New Orleans club called Lulu White's Mahogany Hall (as in "Mahogany Hall Stomp"). They play good ol' dixiealnd jazz and, as you'll note from the above titles, the good ol' dixieland repertoire.
Today's Dukes have put out a CD that is my idea of a fun 56 minutes and 33 seconds of traditional jazz. The ensembles are still pretty highly arranged, but there are occasional solo outings (especially from clarinetist Tim Laughlin) that show that today's Dukes are fine improvisors in the New Orleans tradition. Pianist Tom McDermott has impressed a number of people whose opinion I respect as a ragtime pianist of some considerable ability. He shows it on this CD in his feature on Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag." None of the other names is familiar to me, although they certainly are fine players, an I guess there's got to be a first time for hearing any new players.
On the negative side, there's no banjo. On the positive side, there's no electric guitar replacing the banjo. There's nothing replacing the banjo. On the negative side, there's no tuba. Also on the negative side, the bass player who replaces the tuba seems to be into four/beat jazz rather than two... but then so is the drummer, so maybe the bassist is just trying to go with the flow. On the positive side, the bassist and drummer are good, even though they would probably be more appropriate for swing than they are for dixieland.
The horns are all to the good. Taken on their own merits, they are excellent and, between you and me, Tim Laughlin is as good as any clarinet man these Dukes ever had. So much the better. Carry on, Dukes, carry on.