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Ballin’ the Jack: Jungle

All those Young Americans decked in WWII mufti, throwing wack lindy moves to what they call “swing” music. Cheese-corny reality: bar bands playing skizzed-up versions of jump blues honks. Ballin’ the Jack’s script for “keeping-it-real” swing reads just as corny: “Downtown jazzbos Ballin’ the Jack (Matt Darriau, alto/soprano/clarinet; Andy Laster, baritone/clarinet; Frank London, trumpet/mutes; Art Baron, trombone/mutes; Ben Sher, guitar; Joe Fitzgerald, bass; George Schuller, drums) record a bunch of KC/Cotton Club-era Duke, Rex Stewart, Charlie Shavers, Herschel Evans jams. On a mission to right the wrongs, Ballin’ the Jack gives their debut album the ‘we-live-it-more-than-those-cherry-squirrel-royal-poseurs’ title Jungle (Knitting Factory, KFR-250, 62:47).”

Far from the nerdily “authentic” versions I expected, Ballin’ the Jack freaky-stylees these joints with the same irreverently-reckless abandon as the Founding Fathers. F’rinstance: the Chick Webb-Wolverines-Pee-Wee-Russell-dance-remix of “Old Man Blues,” “Happy Go Lucky Local”‘s Trane-Monk-Charlie Christian-rock ‘n’ roll-with-Duke-at-Newport, the my-muted-trombone-has-been-drinking after-hours sloppy buzz of “Mood Indigo.” Jungle, a corny joke with a helluva punchline.

Originally Published