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

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Cell block 7


Contempt of Court

Own label – no number Playing time: 61m. 22s.


CD 1

1. Spanish Shawl

2. Wonderland by Night

3. Don’t Bring Lulu

4. Black Cat Moan

5. Dear Hearts and Gentle People

6. Si Tu Vois Ma Mère

7. The Yama Yama Man

8. Cornet Chop Suey

9. Melancholy Blues

10. Washington Square

11. A Little Bluer Than You

12. Joshua Fit di Battle of Jericho

13. St. James Infirmary [Blues]

14. Listen to the Mocking Bird

15. Rhythm King

16. Bugle Boy March

17. Stuck in Lodi

Personnel :

Bob Romans – Cornet, double bell euphonium, band leader

Bob Sakoi – Trumpet, double bell euphonium

Pete Main – Clarinet, alto sax, duck call

Jim Maihack – Trombone, double bell euphonium, vocal (tracks 3, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15)

Jack Convery – Banjo, vocal (tracks 5 and 17)

Daryl Hosick – Piano

Tom Downs– Tuba

Coleman Sholl – Drums

Recorded at Bay Records, Calif., 2017.

Founded in Lodi, a town situated at the northern end of the California Central Valley some 35 miles from Sacramento, in 1981 by Bob Romans, Cell Block 7 is a West Coast style jazz band following in the steps of the King Oliver/Lu Watters bands, as so many of the bands on the left coast do/did. It is an eight-piece group with the two-trumpet lead and the usual brass bass, piano, and banjo rhythm. What sets it apart, however, are the three double-bell euphoniums that the front line horn players resort to for some of the tunes, particularly the blues (here Melancholy Blues), and perhaps we might also add the duck call that reed man Pete Main occasionally uses for his solo (none on this recording), although it can be viewed for its novelty rather than its musicality. (I have never heard of Pete’s managing to attract a single duck when he has played the duck call.)

The band took its name from a previous incarnation, a traditional jazz/rock-a-billy combination out of Dallas, Texas, which flourished from 1951-1962, but today’s Cell Block 7 eschews the rock-a-billy. They do, however, stay with the “jail” theme—witness the band’s logo, a jail bird perched on the top of a “7,” and the allusions in the title of this CD and those of their other eight recordings, but they have long since abandoned the “jail garb” of horizontal black and white striped shirts.

They are a well-traveled group, having appeared in Scotland, Hungary, and China in the past, and they have performed all over California and in other states, including Alaska. While the number of traditional jazz gigs may be shrinking somewhat these days, this band keeps busy with both jazz club and festival appearances as well as a twice-a-month residency at the American Legion Hall in Lodi.

Keeping such a busy schedule along with necessary rehearsals results in a band that is well disciplined. They are also fortunate in having ex-Turk Murphy multi-instrumentalist Jim Maihack playing trombone and contributing many fine arrangements, not to mention vocals, as this CD demonstrates. Then first track, Spanish Shawl, is a number that is not often heard, and the arrangement is a fine one with the many breaks played flawlessly and the front line producing a sound slightly reminiscent of mariachi. The arrangement of Wonderland by Night, the second track, features trumpeter Bob Sakoi and pleases the ear with a satisfying modulation into the clarinet solo, backed with sympathetic obbligatos from Sakoi before returning to the ensemble. A similar modulation occurs mid way in Washington Square. All of Maihack’s arrangements seem to include such touches.

The tune list is an interesting one, containing a few “pop” tunes given a Dixieland treatment—Dear Hearts and Gentle People and Washington Square—and some “standards”—St. James Infirmary, Si Tu Vois Ma Mère, Bugle Boy March. The rest are all seldom heard numbers. Some are novelty songs—Don’t Bring Lulu, Yama Yama Man, Stuck in Lodi—but others are legit. jazz vehicles. Not only is the vocal to the seldom-heard Rhythm King included, but the verse is, too. And others are a joy to hear again— Tiny Parham’s Black Cat Moan and Richard Milburn ’s Listen to the Mocking Bird. (Although it is not sung ion this CD, the lyrics to the latter were by Septimus Winner—a name to conjure with, worthy of W.C. Fields.)

So for a very satisfying hour plus of well-played traditional jazz of the kind still extant here in Northern California, acquire this CD. For information, go to the band’s website,, or check with some online outlets such as Amazon and CD Universe.

Bert Thompson

1. Tight arrangement by Maihack. Breaks all carefully scripted and executed flawlessly. Front line gives a sound slightly reminiscent of mariachi.

2. Nice modulation into clarinet solo with sympathetic obbligatos from Sakoi before rertuiern rto ensemble.

3. Comedy song that receives a bit of tongue in cheek treatment from the various instruments on the breaks.

4. Nice rendition of this Tiny Parham tune.

5. Verse included at start of this schmaltzy tune – that is popular among the nostalgia set.

6. Arrangement credited to “Barnaby”—probably Tom Barneby. Nice passage given over to trumpet with obbligatos from clarinet, rest having dropped out, for half chorus.

7. Yama Yama Man (music by Karl Hoschna and lyrics by Collin Davis , 1908) for me associated with Jimmie Stanislaus of Turk Murphy Band—this his signature tune. Maihack undoubtedly familiar with that rendition as he played with TM for some time and his rendition so influenced.

8. Louis Armstrong, composer. Played cleanly by Sakoi—all breaks cone off. Nice easy tempo.

9. DB Euphoniums here.

10. Nice mid-way modulation.

11. Not much of a tune.

12. [Nothing]

13. Nice upper register solo on clarinet.

14. "Listen to the Mocking Bird" (1855) is an American popular song of the mid-19th century. Its lyrics were composed by Septimus Winner under the pseudonym "Alice Hawthorne", and its music was by Richard Milburn . [1] [2] [3]

It relates the story of a singer dreaming of his sweetheart, now dead and buried, and a mockingbird , whose song the couple once enjoyed, now singing over her grave. Yet the melody is moderately lively.

"Listen to the Mocking Bird" was one of the most popular ballads of the era and sold more than twenty million copies of sheet music. [4] It was popular during the American Civil War and was used as marching music. Abraham Lincoln was especially fond of it, saying, "It is as sincere as the laughter of a little girl at play." [5]

Cymbal tag.

15. Seldom heard lyric sung here by JM. Nice coda ritard.

16. Taken at quite a lick—one would almost have as much have to run as march.

17. Fun tune—composer not named.

Cell Block 7 has been performing and entertaining folks thought the Western US and beyond for over 30 years.


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