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The Jim Cullum Jazz Band: Chasin’ the Blues

Not every hair is in place; sometimes it’s just plain sloppy. But what the heck, this CD is authentic Dixieland. Everyone in the band is having a ball, and the same can be said for the large, live audience in San Antonio. This is the home of the Alamo. Equally historical, it’s where Jim Cullum started his famous jazz band in 1962-not at the Alamo, but at the Landing along the Riverwalk, where the group has played six nights a week since 1980. Thanks to NPR and XM Satellite Radio, the band is a national institution.

If traditional is your bag, this new release will be highly enjoyable. For the natives and tourists who crowd into Cullum’s bistro, the band can do no wrong. Every solo-not just every tune-is applauded heartily. The driving cornet of leader Cullum, the trombone work of Kenny Rupp and clarinetist Ron Hockett are a joy to hear. Characteristically, if the front line is strong in a trad band, you’ve got it made. Which makes tunes such as “Cakewalkin’ Babies From Home,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Shake That Thing,” “Bugle Call Rag” and “Diga Diga Doo” so exciting. By the way, Topsy Chapman knows how to belt blues.

Originally Published