The original Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1917 became the first jazz group ever to record and was highly influential for a few years. Their music was essentially all ensembles (no real solos in the early days) and primitively recorded, but created a sensation, first in the U.S. and then in Europe during their visit to England. Eighty years later, the son of the ODJB's leader/trumpeter Nick LaRocca, Jimmy LaRocca, is heard here leading a new Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Also a trumpeter, LaRocca heads a sextet that uses the same instrumentation as the original group, except for the addition of a string bassist. Best known among the sidemen is clarinetist Tim Laughlin. Despite some claims to the contrary, and the fact that 11 of the 14 selections on their debut CD were recorded by the earlier band, this version of the ODJB really does not sound that similar to the original. Even with the playing of many ensembles, there are quite a few individual solos. LaRocca shows the influence of Louis Armstrong and later New Orleans trumpeters, and the smooth-toned Laughlin does not approach the crazy expressiveness of his predecessor Larry Shields (most evident on "Livery Stable Blues"). In fact, there are times when one wishes that the group would cut away a bit more from its role model. However, the music is quite enjoyable and is not merely a historic curiosity. LaRocca is a fine player, and it is surprising that he did not record earlier; Laughlin and trombonist Mike Guma blend together well, and pianist John Royan (along with the rhythm section) sounds quite at home performing the vintage songs. Highlights of the spirited set include "Original Dixieland Jazz Band One-Step," "Fidgety Feet," "Clarinet Marmalade" and "St. Louis Blues." Trad jazz fans will want this one.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow