Jonathan Stout and His
Campus Five are one of those few bands on the scene today that may
proudly wear a medallion that says, REAL JAZZ. Their debut release aptly
titled Jammin' The Blues does just that from start to finish.|
Although all but one of the tunes on Jammin'
The Blues is a cover tune, they are covers of great classic jazz and
swing era songs. The recordings on this, their debut release, are done at tempos easy for this
band to get into a solid groove on and easy for listeners to sachet through
with a pop of the fingers or a pat of the foot. For those of the persuasion to
want to grab a partner and Lindy till they drop this CD could remain on the CD
player alone all night and never get old.
From the very first tune on the release one is
smitten with the band’s infectious rhythm and tasteful, well-played, and
emotional solos. It doesn’t hurt that it just happens to be a classic Benny
Goodman Sextet riff tune opening the CD co-written by the great Charlie
Christian. The band never loses a beat the whole way through with three Lester
Young tunes and Stout’s guitar work throughout is as tasteful as it gets. The
tune Stuffy, written by Coleman Hawkins and first recorded by the
tenor great in 1945 featuring Goodman's guitarist Allen Reuss, is a pleasant
surprise and very well played.
While Stout's guitar work is a high point
drawing on the styles of greats like Barney Kessell, Django Reinhardt, and
Charlie Christian so is the playing of the rhythm section driving the band
consisting of Christopher Dawson on piano, Jim Garafolo on bass, and Josh
Collazo on drums. These aforementioned modern day hep-cats could make more music
alone than most bands trying to play this style of jazz today.
It is an added bonus and pleasant surprise to
hear crisp, clean trumpet work and most of all in tune and on key solos handled
expertly by Jim Ziegler.
Just when you think it couldn’t get any better
you are whisked into another dimension with the tenor work of Albert Alva
sounding at times like Georgie Auld and Chu Berry all rolled up in one pack of
dynamite. His clarinet riffs also far exceeded anything this listener and jazz
lover has heard or expected to hear in a small group setting in the year 2003.
Finally and certainly not lastly are the superb
vocals of Hilary Alexander. What a find is this canary! Female vocalists trying
to sing jazz with an operatic approach has almost become commonplace aside from
a handful of blues influenced singers like Lavay Smith, Katherine Whalen and
Carmen Gettit. Hilary Alexander stands right up there with the best of them. She
SWINGS, she’s on key, she’s on time and she sings with feeling. You get the idea
this chirp isn’t just mouthing words on a piece of paper sung by someone else 50
years ago, she’s living and owning her vocals on this release.
The bottom line is if you like listening to
vintage jazz and swing music and can appreciate well-timed and placed solo work
you will love Jammin' The Blues by
Jonathon Stout And His
Campus Five. And if you’re a dancer and can’t find the rhythm or
tempo in this CD…. get a new instructor…or switch to salsa.