Bay City Jazz Band

Alligator Crawl

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The original Bay City Jazz Band lineup was only a footnote in the history of Dixieland; formed in 1955, the outfit recorded two LPs for Good Time Jazz (whose catalog is now owned by Fantasy) before breaking up in 1957. But they were an enjoyable footnote, and tuba player Mike Waldbridge (of Salty Dogs fame) thought enough of their work to assemble a new BCJB lineup 45 years after the original lineup's demise. In early 2002, Waldbridge recruited two members of the old '50s band (trumpeter Everett Farey and drummer Lloyd Byassee) and united them with several Dixieland veterans who had belonged to the Salty Dogs at some point, including trumpeter Bob Neighbor, banjo player Jack Kuncl, pianist John Cooper, and the late trombonist Jim Snyder. Waldbridge's new BCJB lineup recorded Alligator Crawl in July 2002 -- only five months before Snyder's death from lymphoma -- and this CD contains the trombonist's final recorded performances. Because Alligator Crawl only employs two members of the BCJB's '50s lineup, some Dixieland fans might wonder if perhaps this group should be using a different name. But, in fact, Alligator Crawl is quite faithful to the spirit of the old BCJB; '20s-minded performances of Jelly Roll Morton's "London Blues," Ma Rainey's "See See Rider," and Louis Armstrong's "Potato Head Blues" definitely pick up where the original BCJB left off in 1957. And who better to pay tribute to a '50s Dixieland revival band than several players who had been with the Salty Dogs over the years? After all, the Salty Dogs and the BCJB were kindred spirits in the '50s -- both were a throwback to Prohibition-era jazz. Alligator Crawl offers few surprises, but it's still a pleasing, if predictable, effort that die-hard Dixieland enthusiasts will enjoy.

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