Don Reitan

Ms-sippi Cookin', Vol. 1: Live at the Chez Joey

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In 1961, Don Reitan was playing with his quintet at a Biloxi, MS, watering hole with the tongue in cheek name of Chez Joey. In a fit of foresight, the owner had an engineer record Reitan's quintet in performance. But for the next 38 years, the tapes lay dormant with drummer Lee Charlton. They have finally been released but without much fanfare. For that time and place, Reitan's group had a modern sound emulating Art Blakey Messengers hard bop on such tunes as "The Boss" and Horace Silver funk on "Sister Sadie," with Reitan's piano driving the group hard. On some cuts, Reitan would have held his own with Sonny Clark, Red Garland, and some of the hard boppers of the period. But this was a Southern bar in 1961 and some blues were needed. So here comes "Sandcrab Blues" with some barroom piano from Reitan. And the dancers had to be kept happy with some slow tunes. "More Than You Know" filled the bill with Rick Bell and Mike Serpas playing that sensuous tenor and trumpet that made people sway. Jackie Henderson provided the vocals on some tracks, doing a credible job on a blues-tinged"Somebody Loves Me" and a swinging "Lover." There's even a down-home "Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy" to keep the customers from complaining about that "modern stuff." This release shows what many people knew -- that not all the "new music" was being played in the North or on the coasts. There was extemporaneous, progressive jazz being played in the South. Even though the tapes were 40 years old, good engineering has brought about a CD with better-than-expected sonics.

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