Old-time Chicago style Dixieland-to-swing veterans Lew Green and Joe Muranyi have traveled extensively in Europe more than the U.S., playing their classic vintage traditional jazz for appreciative audiences. With this recording, these American musicians were afforded the opportunity to play together in a sextet of like-minded players, most notably Vince Giordano, whose acclaim leading his group the Nighthawks is well documented. Clarinetist Green and clarinetist Muranyi have a sweet sound when they play in unison or counterpoint, while Giordano lays down a solid foundation on tuba, bass, or bass saxophone. The repertoire is pure nostalgic jazz, spanning rag, New Orleans to Chi-Town swing, show tunes, and two of Muranyi's originals. Good feelings and the distinctive flavor of the blues is ever present, while up to four of the bandmembers sing on select tracks. Going back the furthest in history, William Krell's "Mississippi Rag" was the first published rag, but not the last to ever be performed as pianist Jeff Barnhart and Green play the march-inflected song in unison, while Jimmy Blythe's "Oriental Man" is straight, unadulterated Dixieland with the tight brass horn of Green leading the charge and Muranyi following. Most of the songs are midtempo swingers like the bright "Take Me to the Land of Jazz" and the title track, either with the strummings of guitarist or banjo player Bob Leary, the bouncy piano of Barnhart, or the rich and sweet clarinet of Muranyi. Fans of the noble black wooden instrument will especially enjoy the strains of the former mate of Louis Armstrong and Eddie Condon, especially during his sneaky lead on the shuffling "Storyville Swing," which he wrote, the sad "I Left My Sugar Standing in the Rain," or the slower take of Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair," where Muranyi's clarinet sounds as well heeled and sonorous as any since Benny Goodman. While Green's cornet comes out of the bag of Armstrong or Bix Beiderbecke, there's a vocal individualism honed by many years of performance, heard best during the rolling rhythms of the full eight-minute "Four or Five Times," "Take Me to the Land Of Jazz," where he takes the reins at the outset, or the hottest swinger of the date, Junie Cobb's "Piggly Wiggly." Green trades with Giordano's bass sax and Barnhart sings on "I Believe in Miracles," and the two horns work in tandem and separate phrases for the bouncy "I Know That You Know" constitute the happiest pure team play on the date. Another triumphant early period modern recording for the Arbors label, and thankfully a wonderful pairing of unsung jazz heroes Green and Muranyi, this studio date will hopefully be the first such offering -- a live in-concert session would be the next logical step.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos