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Sammy Rimington: Sammy Rimington Visits New Orleans

Title aside, British clarinetist Sammy Rimington has done much more than just visit New Orleans over the years: He has based his entire career on playing traditional New Orleans jazz, both with fellow Britons like Chris Barber and Ken Colyer, and with actual New Orleans musicians, including his major influences. The person who was visiting New Orleans in connection with this recording was Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz, who went there in April 2005 with filmmakers Maureen Gosling and Chris Simon for a documentary they were making about Arhoolie. Gosling and Simon wanted to see Strachwitz do what he had spent his career doing, recording his favorite musicians.

Movies can take a long time to edit and find distributors, however, and Strachwitz has opted not to wait for the eventual soundtrack album, instead releasing the results of his trip here and on A New Orleans Visit-Before Katrina. Rimington is heard in three contexts, with a group Strachwitz has dubbed his Hot Six at the Palm Court, a restaurant; with Michael and David Doucet, Lionel Batiste and Lars Edegran, in a private home; and with the Tremè Brass Band during a street parade. The sound has the quality of a field recording, but that only makes the performances more impressive. The Hot Six is especially lively on such selections as the opener, “Smile, Darn You, Smile,” but the Tremè Brass Band also devotes nearly eight raucous minutes to “Sweet Georgia Brown.” The album is a testament to the importance of New Orleans, before and after Katrina.

Originally Published