Sam Pilafian

Makin' Whoopee

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It's natural for Empire Brass tuba player Sam Pilafian to have an affinity for classic jazz of the '20s. Before the acoustic bass became de rigeur for jazz dates, the tuba provided most of the low end for Dixieland and other jazz groups of the pre-swing era. Pilafian's second collection of standards, after 1991's Travelin' Light, also features guitarist Frank Vignola (this time he's co-billed), and adds Don Keiling's rhythm guitar, Joe Ascione's drums, Andy Kubiszewski's percussion, and, for two songs, Ken Peplowski's clarinet. Except for Vignola's own "Chasin' the Antelope," all of the material is of the same Jazz Age vintage, including plenty of favorites from Hoagy Carmichael ("New Orleans," "(Up A) Lazy River," "Georgia on My Mind") and Irving Berlin ("Alexander's Ragtime Band," "What'll I Do?"). Especially interesting are the numbers that date from the period but were rarely performed by jazz groups then, like "Mack the Knife" and "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home." Although Pilafian understandably takes a support role on Makin' Whoopee, the rest of the band takes up the slack, and Keiling takes a vocal on the title track.

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