October 1999

Spanky Davis/Roy Eldridge
Spanky & Roy
Challenge Records

Recorded in 1985, this is as much a tribute to the second incarnation of Jimmy Ryan's at 154 West 54th Street, a tenure that ran from 1970 to 1983, as to the club's two featured trumpeters-band leaders, Roy Eldridge and Spanky Davis. Indeed, it was the Chicago-bred Davis who took over in 1980, when "Little Jazz" was sidelined by a heart attack that prevented him from ever playing again. Roy, however, could still sing. And, here, on jump blues like "Kidney Stew" and "Don't Roll Those Bloodshot Eyes at Me," the master's voice winks and smiles.

The bulk of the tracks are given over to Eldridge's accomplished protege, who with pianist Bobby Pratt, bassist Frank Tate, and drummer Eddie Locke "strut with some barbecue." Tunes toasted to the delight of the reunion party include "Thou Swell," "After You've Gone," and "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me." On several cuts, the wonderful Dick Katz sits in on piano while Pratt switches to trombone. It's a gala affair that perfectly captures the genial and upbeat atmosphere that was Ryan's hallmark.

Originally published in October 1999
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