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



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THE FAT BABIES

18th & Racine

Delmark DE 255

 

 

1. Liza

2. Till Times Get Better

3. The Stampede

4. Mabel's Dream

5. Nobody's Sweetheart Now

6. I Can't Dance (I Got Ants In My Pants)

7. 18th & Racine

8. King Kong Stomp

9. El Rado Scuffle

10. Oh Baby

11. Stardust

12. I’ll Fly to Hawaii

13. Oh Me! Oh My!

14. The Chant

15. Blueberry Rhyme

 

Beau Sample - String bass

Andy Schumm – Cornet, alto sax

John Otto – Clarinet, alto sax

Dave Bock – Trombone

Paul Asaro – Piano

Jake Sanders – Tenor banjo

Alex Hall – Drums

 

This is the second CD from Fat Babies, a septet based in Chicago. The album title is the address of the Honky Tonk BBQ in Chicago, where this band plays every Sunday might. You might label them as a traditional group but they avoid the drawbacks of some trad bands which seem to think that enthusiasm is much more important than technique. All the members of The Fat Babies seem to be masters of their instruments, which enables them to play the music of the 1920s and 1930s with expertise as well as enthusiasm.

Their repertoire consists mainly of tunes by the likes of Fletcher Henderson, James P. Johnson and Eddie Condon. The band has an obvious feeling for the music of that era without any slavish adherence to ancient styles. In fact part of the enjoyment of hearing this album is that the music always sounds fresh – not at all the tired ramblings of a revivalist group going through the motions.

The band is led by bassist Beau Sample but the star of many tracks is cornettist Andy Schumm, who has clearly learnt a lot from listening to Bix Beiderbecke. Andy’s solos on such tracks as Liza and Stardust have Bix’s clarity and lyricism. Andy also wrote most of the arrangements.

This is not to say that the other band members are slouches: most of them contribute excellent solos. For example, savour clarinettist John Otto inThe Stampede (with rhythmic choke cymbal from drummer Alex Hall); pianist Paul Asaro on Nobody’s Sweetheart Now and his solo feature Blueberry Rhyme; and trombonist Dave Bock in Oh Baby. The whole band has a lightness of touch which makes a refreshing change from those bands that try a little too hard to impress. Altogether, this album is a very pleasant surprise.

Incidentally, there is an uncredited vocalist on Till Times Get Better and massed orchestral vocals on I’ll Fly to Hawaii.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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