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Jump, Swing, R&B, etc - Reviews

B.B. King - "Let The Good Times Roll"

B.B. King is a force of nature, so when he gets a good idea, the music world should sit up and take more notice than usual. Let the Good Times Roll is a superb idea, a tribute to one of Kingís inspirations from the 1940s that also works as B.B.ís "swing" album. Saxophonist and singer Jordanís small combo was hugely popular in its day and showed a generation of black performers (including Chuck Berry as well as King) how the tough side of African-American life could be mixed with humor into very hip, but propulsive and simple, entertainment. Kingís ear for Jordanís material is perfect. Every one of the 18 numbers here is a superior song, from male-chauvinist jokes like "Beware, Brother, Beware," to philosophical anguish like "Nobody Knows You When Youíre Down and Out" to unclassifiable hard-romping slices of life like "Choo Choo ChíBoogie." King also gets ace help from Dr. John on "Is You Is, or Is You Ainít (My Baby)" and horn arrangements by Hank Crawford that include the old Ray Charles bandleader Fathead Newman. But for all their coarseness and clichťs, the young "swing" bands do have the advantage of boundless energy and sass. In comparison, Let the Good Times Roll may feel a tad sedate, which is not to say reverent - King understands that noisy high spirits are the essence of Jordan. If King turns more people on to the old masterís original sides, his will have done his work, which as always is suffused with fabulous professionalism. - Milo Miles

Jump For Joy - "Swing Power Sessions - Vol 1."

Jump For Joy are a five piece French band led by British bassist Pikey Butler, who did a stint in the UK revival outfit The Darts at one point (remember "Daddy Cool" and "Boy From New York City"?). Pikey handles the lead vocals and writes alot of the songs.

Like most of the European bands playing "swing" music, Jump For Joy goes for that jumpin' jive sound rather than the more traditional Count Basie sound that many of the American bands favor. Power Sessions mixes up the tempo's with upbeats cuts like "Don't F*** Around With Love", "Rocket 69" and "Cash Flow Problem", and slower jazzy numbers like "Nightclub" and "Pennies From heaven". There's even a bit of boogie woogie in there with "Back To The Blues". (9/23/99)

ROYAL CROWN REVUE - "The Contender"

They've been practicing. Royal Crown Revue, the epicenter for the much cronicled contempo-swing movement, is back with "The Contender," the band's first disc of new material since 1996's "Mugsy's Move." Along with a host of bopping jump ditties, RCR displays added tautness on this disc - he result of its almost incessant touring schedule. The septet stops and starts on a dime.

Singer Eddie Nichols' lyrical gifts still are in evidence. Who else could dash off this line from the title track, an ode to a punch drunk fighter? "My eyes might be swollen with right hooks and tears / But i see salvation tonight / In the left and in the right."

"The Contender" carries the words "Est. 1989" on its spine: RCR lays claim to it's justly deserved instigator crown, while also guarding against the notion that someone might lump it in with the burgeoning crowd of swingers-come-latelys. But as James Anchor's guitar rumbling opens the door for the blistering brass anfares of the title track, comparisons become mute.

- Kevin M. Williams, the Chicago Sun-Times.

JET SET SIX - "Livin' It Up"

In the past year we've seen and heard countless bums formerly decked out in long hair and spandex attempting to pass themselves off as up-to-date, hip daddyos after a trip to Cheap Jack's vintage clothing. At first look and listen, you may wonder if Jet Set Six is another retro band cashing in on the current swing craze. But two minutes into their debut CD, 'Livin' It Up', you realize Jet Set Six has a secret weapon, albeit one used time and time again by successful bands since the dawn of recorded sound---great songs and great players. There is nothing gimmicky about this disc---these guys mean it. This album could have come out at any time from 1947 to 1999 and still be as innovative, clever, fun and inspired as it is.

Lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Jon Ceperano has much to contend with given the massive powerhouse he's assembled to punch out his tunes. From track to track the band whomps out each song at 110 miles per hour while maintaining a degree of taste, subtlety and musicianship rarely found in today's retro bands. Ceperano's laid back singing style and remarkable talent of never allowing himself to bellow despite the elegant racket of the group makes him a master of planting emotion and feeling into your soul. This is a man expressing deep loneliness and sorrow amid raucous horns, walloping drums, and a chorus of kindred spirits who shout their acknowledgement or create 3 part harmony commiseration.

Ceperano's guitar solos mimic his singing style, utilizing deep passion without ever losing control and letting his talent speak for itself rather than burying the tone of his instrument and what he's trying to say in gimmicky guitar effects. Every musician on the album manages the knack of expressing without noodling and blowing hurricanes through their horns with passion rather than bombast. The end result doesn't leave you sorry for these cats wandering through an endless New Year's Eve bash, but instead wanting to join them for their sojourn into yet another post-breakup party.

Jet Set 6 has found perfect combination of displaying wild abandon without ever being boneheaded. 'Livin' It Up' is a must.

by Josh Max. Josh Max is a singer/songwriter in the NYC-based lounge-o-billy band Josh Max's Outfit. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Daily News, Performing Songwriter, Folk Music Digest and other publications.

HONK WAIL AND MOAN - "Mailbox"

I picked this one up while finishing up the last Cringe. That means during those bouts of editing, this was often the last thing I listened to before going to slumberland.

Honk, Wail and Moan is more than just a cool and appropriate name for a jazz band. Itís a group of musicians working together in a jazz format that steps outside the traditional and away from the cheesiness Columbus radio listeners may consider jazz. Sure, they do the big band, swing and and rag sounds of the likes of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong. But they also travel into the more experimental atmospheres of Sun Ra and Miles Davis. I even hear a little classical influence, via Stravinsky, Bernstein and Copland.

Mailbox represents the various sounds of HW&M in a fairly reasonable way, though I could do with a bit more of the upbeat rags and blues, and less of guest vocalist Dick Mackayís crooning. Aside from Billy Holiday, I just ainít a big jazz singer fan.

While Iím name dropping, I should talk about the members of HW&M a bit. The band has been around for something like 4 years. In that time, several musicians have moved in, out and through the band. However, the core member and creative force seems to be trombonist Brian Casey with some strong support from bassist Steve Perakis and percussionist Mark Greenwood. From what I can recall, these are the only three (of the 5-15 members) who have been in the band since itís inception.

- Joel, Cringe, Columbus, Ohio.


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