Every once in a while, it is good to revisit the first four decades of jazz to get refreshed at the well from which all of today’s jazz music (with its many permutations) has flowed. Trombonist Bill Allred’s Orlando-based band provides a great look back at the earliest days of jazz, from ragtime up through the big band era, adding a bit of modernist soloing to keep things fresh.
The band devoted nearly half of its time to New Orleans and Louis Armstrong because of Pops’ sheer impact on popular music from his roots in the Crescent City and his travels to Chicago to join King Oliver en route to becoming an international star. “Dippermouth Blues,” “When The Saints Go Marching In,” “West End Blues,” “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” and “What a Wonderful World” provided strong features for the octet’s five-man horn line.
The band features Allred and Herb Bruce on trombone, Bobby Pickwood and Don Johnson on trumpet, Terry Myers on tenor sax and clarinet, Jay Mueller on bass, Randy Morris on piano and Eddie Metz Jr. on drums. Clever arrangements made this little big band, at times, sound like a unit nearly double its size. Pickwood had several fine vocal features, including “…Wonderful World” and the Rosemary Clooney hit “Still On the Road.” Myers was featured right out of the gate on clarinet on a Matty Matlock arrangement of “Saints.”