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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf


Dippermouth Blues

Gemini CD-107



1. All the Girls Go Crazy

2. Someday Sweetheart

3. Dippermouth Blues

4. Just a Closer Walk with Thee

5. Melancholy Blues

6. High Society

7. Snag It

8. Frogimore Rag

9. Canal Street Blues

10. Make Me a Pallet

11. Muskrat Ramble

12. Speak Softly Love

13. Lady Love

14. Feetwarmers Blues

15. Buddy's Habits


Mike Slack – Cornet

Tom Barnebey – Cornet

Roy Rubinstein – Trombone

Pete Main – Reeds

Bill Gould – Piano

Tom Clark – Bass

Bill DeKuiper – Guitar

Hugh O'Donnel – Drums.

Recorded in Oakland, Calif., on April 26, 2012.


The San Francisco Feetwarmers—located across the bay from San Francisco, actually—started out as a seven-piece combo but now have graduated to an eight-piece band featuring two cornets, and stylistically they are more a Joe Oliver band than a Lu Watters one. Perhaps appropriately, three of the titles on this CDDippermouth Blues, Snag It, and Canal Street Bluesare Oliver compositions, and Someday Sweetheart, High Society, Frogimore Rag, and Buddy’s Habits were also recorded by one or other of the Oliver bands.

All of the musicians are band regulars except for Roy Rubinstein, who is guesting on trombone. He is originally from Britain and now lives and plays in the Chicago area, having led his own band, the Chicago Hot Six, for the last thirty or so years; he visits the West Coast fairly frequently. The others are well-known San Francisco area musicians and play—or have played—with local bands, Pete Main undoubtedly holding the record for such as he currently plays with several of them.

Most of the tunes in this set should be fairly familiar, except perhaps for one or two. Jelly Roll Morton’s Frogimore Rag is not a simple ditty, but a complex composition, as most of his tunes are. Speak Softly Love will become familiar when one thinks of the theme music of The Godfather, which it is. Another is Lady Love, which only a few bands have in their repertoire and which is my favorite track on this disc. And finally there is the 12-bar blues Feetwarmers Blues, a Slack original which, as far as I am aware, no other bands are playing. All of the others, however, are well-known.

There are numerous good moments on this album. I very much enjoyed Main’s solos on clarinet, which are full of interesting ideas, and also the choruses where he shares the lead with Rubinstein. Also among the best moments are the two-horn choruses where the harmonies are clearly worked out as they have to be. (I’m not sure I can accept the claim that Oliver and Armstrong’s were virtually spontaneous, Oliver mouthing to Armstrong what he was going to play just before doing so.) Despite a little raggedness, the thirty-two measures of the two-horns in Lady Love is a delight—they “trade” sixteen bars of fours, then eight of two’s, and finally come together for a duet on the last eight. Another high point is the beautiful ascending chromatic runs by the full band on Frogimore Rag.

The tempos (tempi, if you prefer) are all very well chosen with one exception. Speak Softly Love the first time through is almost dirge-like and works well, but thereafter the tempo doubles, and as a quick-time tune it doesn’t do it for me; also the abrupt ritard in the last half chorus is a bit jarring. I believe that maintaining the slow tempo throughout would have been more effective. Finally, although the band plays well and would be good to dance to, I wish there was just a bit more excitement overall, something to really get the corpuscles moving.

All in all, however, this is an album worth having, providing over an hour of enjoyable jazz. More information is available at the band’s website <>.

Bert Thompson

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