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Jon-Erik Kellso: Blue Roof Blues

Here’s a jazz mixture that truly defies categorization. Sure, “Weary Blues,” with guitarist Matt Munisteri switching to banjo, and exotic Dixieland favorites, like “Panama” and the ever-modulating “Hindustan,” will satisfy moldy figs. “Door Number 4” by the leader, trumpeter Kellso, will please any flapper who might still be breathing. But then you have Thelonious Monk’s “Bye-Ya,” and you expect at least a nod to bop, but it turns out to be closer to Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre.” The salute to Duke is a real tribute: “Way Way Back,” is fully realized, with the plunged growls of Kellso recalling Rex Stewart. Listen for Munisteri’s remarkable chordal playing. There’s also a recurring theme that starts out as “Just Like This,” returns midway as “Just Like That,” and ends the album as the amalgam “Just Like This, Just Like That,” highlighted by bassist Danton Boller’s tender arco solo. The theme hinted at by the title tune does not live up to its subtitle, “A Love Letter to New Orleans.” Some of the traditional sounds heard throughout have the New Orleans flavor, but only “Blue Roof Blues” is a powerful post-Katrina dirge: a dark, minor march, with Kellso’s angry trumpet and Evan Christopher’s pathos-filled clarinet conjuring up the blue tarps covering the damaged roofs.

Originally Published