Jimmy Ryan's was the outpost for traditional jazz on the street which was the Mecca for jazz from the '30s to the early '50s, New York's 52nd street. Wilbur DeParis played at this famous watering hole on several occasions leading his Rampart St. Ramblers. This album is the last in a series of CDs issued by the enterprising Jazz Crusade label which documents DeParis' visits to this important jazz venue. This performance closed the club for its summer recess. Unlike most traditional jazz bands who usually played loosely, often just a nod toward what was written on the score sheet, if anything was written at all, DeParis' group worked from a regular book of charts, making their ensemble work much more taut. They even played classical pieces, such as "Barcarolle," with ease. Written charts notwithstanding, they still swung with a vengeance. While charts assured that the group didn't fall into a rut, they didn't inhibit the individual performers from going all-out on each cut. One of the stars and major swingers of this group was banjo player Eddie Gibbs. His quicker-than-lightening banjo strumming is prominent throughout this album, likely because he must have been a sight to behold during a live performance. One will probably not hear a banjo played with such speed as Gibbs does on "Somebody Stole My Gal." The legitimate New Orleans clarinetist Omer Simeon was a major actor in the success of this group. His playing contrasted the warm, rich beauty of the middle register with the biting intensity of the higher octaves as heard on such cuts as "Bill Bailey." Although DeParis' group never reached the pinnacles achieved by other trad jazz groups, it wasn't because they couldn't deliver the music, as this recommended album amply demonstrates.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan