Duke Heitger and his Swing Band: Rhythm is Our Business

Considered a “secret weapon” by former Squirrel Nut Zippers frontman Tom Maxwell on that band’s best-selling 1996 album, Hot, 32-year-old freelance trumpeter Duke Heitger has finally made a home for himself. Backed by his very own swing set, bandleader Heitger-who, by the way, is pursuing a graduate degree in geology at the University of New Orleans-unearths 16 rare swing and Dixieland tunes on his debut album, Rhythm Is Our Business.

The pace here is ferocious, with Heitger’s tireless trumpet remaining as randy and rambunctious as Tex Avery’s bug-eyed Big Bad Wolf. Most of the numbers are instrumental burners-Lester Young’s “Jammin’ the Blues” will just about sizzle your subwoofer. But every once in a while, Heitger, whose father Ray leads Toledo, Ohio’s Cakewalking Jazz Band, and Rebecca Kilgore pick up the party with their swooning throwback pipes. Credit reedmen Brian Ogilvie and Tom Fischer, and trombonist Dan Barrett for being crazy (and flat-out talented) enough to keep up with Heitger’s particular brand of musical lunacy.