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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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The Classic Sessions

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19379



1. Pardon Me Pretty Baby
2. Rent Party Blues
3. Just One of Those Things
4. I Must Have That Man
5. Maori
6. I Just Couldn´t Take It Baby
7. Wabash Blues
8. Under a Blanket of Blue
9. My Blackbirds are Bluebirds Now
10. Caught
11. Love and Kisses
12. Riverside Blues
13. The Panic Is On
14. When Buddha Smiles
15. I Gotta Get Up and Go to Work

Marty Grosz - Guitar, banjo, vocals
Dan Block - Clarinet, alto sax, bass clarinet, baritone sax
Scott Robinson - Clarinet, soprano sax, C-melody sax, baritone sax, cornet, echo cornet, alto horn
Vince Giordano - String bass, tuba, bass sax, vocal
Rob Garcia - Drums, glockenspiel
Panic Slim - Trombone (tracks 2, 4, 7, 8, 10)

In a previous review, I recalled the pleasure of seeing Marty Grosz performing at many Swinging Jazz Parties. This CD is equally enjoyable, though from a different angle. There are only a few of Grosz's vocals and none of his lengthy but hilarious anecdotes (although the sleeve-notes are a scream). Marty stays mainly in the background and leaves the spotlight to two very talented multi-instrumentalists: reedman Dan Block and (especially) the incredibly versatile Scott Robinson. Robinson is one of that select number of musicians who plays brass as well as reed instruments (the other most famous exponent of this skill was Benny Carter). There is also a rich variety of bass sounds from Vince Giordano.
Marty Grosz has a real enthusiasm for old, neglected songs, like several of those on this CD. One example is Fats Waller's Caught, a tune which only survives as a piano copy and was never recorded by Fats. But Waller is one of Grosz's main enthusiasms - and one of his influences. When Marty sings, his phrasing makes him sound almost like a white version of Waller, notably when he slides into conversational mode. The Panic is On is another Waller tune, given a swinging treatment here, with a characteristic vocal and guitar solo from Marty and a somewhat strangled cornet solo by Scott Robinson.

Another rare song is Maori, written in 1908 by William H. Tyers who composed the better-known Panama. It is given an exotic Latin rhythm, aided considerably by drummer Rob Garcia. He is just the right drummer for this ensemble, capturing the period feel when necessary and interpolating appropriate fills. On Marty Grosz's composition Love and Kisses, Garcia plays a fine solo: moving around the kit in classic style.

Tunes like Rent Party Blues and Just One of Those Things are better-known, but Marty's ingenious arrangements give them new life. For the former, Marty supplies sympathetic backings for the soloists, and there is a glorious passage where the two reedmen harmonise beautifully. And Marty refreshes the latter tune with catchy figures in the final chorus. In Wabash Blues, Grosz strums a countrified riff on his guitar while Rob Garcia tinkles a filigree tune on glockenspiel.

One of the album's main delights is hearing Dan Block and Scott Robinson dancing around one another on their multiple instruments. And in Under a Blanket of Blue, Scott's soprano sax interweaves nicely with Giordano's bass sax. Robinson's versatility is outstanding in Riverside Blues, where he plays the echo cornet in Louis Armstrong style and then the clarinet without its mouthpiece!

In the sleeve-notes, Marty writes: "What is 'Hot Music?' Good question. I´ve been working on a definition for the past sixty years and I still haven´t gotten it into final form. About the closest I have come is that ´you know it when you hear it'."

I can hear it - and I know it's here, in abundance.


Tony Augarde 

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