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
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
’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, www.cellblock7.net, or check with
some online outlets such as Amazon and CD Universe.
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
and lyrics by
, 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.
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
"Alice Hawthorne", and its music was by
It relates the story of a singer dreaming of his sweetheart, now dead and
buried, and a
, 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.
It was popular during the
American Civil War
and was used as marching music.
was especially fond of it, saying, "It is as sincere as the laughter of a
little girl at play."
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
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.