Jim Cullum, Jr.

Battle of the Bands: San Antonio Vs. New Orleans

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One of the finest regular jazz radio series of the 1990s has been Riverwalk, Live From the Landing, which features cornetist Jim Cullum's Jazz Band and guests performing music in tribute to the 1920s and '30s. The well-planned shows always have some special highlights; several CDs of radio performances have been made available. Jim Cullum and singer Banu Gibson have led two of the finest classic jazz bands in the world during the 1980s and '90s, so it was logical that they would meet up someday. For the "Battle of the Bands" program, the "combat" is good-humored, and the contest reaches a predictable conclusion (with the audience being the true winner). Both bands have opportunities to stretch out, and each pulls out a few surprises. William Warfield (who does some narration about New Orleans) sings W.C. Handy's "Long Gone"; pianists John Sheridan and David Boeddinghaus jam together on "Honky Tonk Train Blues"; and young Savion Glover tap-dances in the tradition of Bojangles on "Doin' the New Low Down." While the first half of the program clearly finds Cullum's band (featured on "New Orleans Stomp" and "Dippermouth Blues") ahead on points, Banu Gibson's tapping with Glover on "Wrap Your Cares In Rhythm and Dance" (which she also sings) and her five other vocals (including "She's Crying For Me" and "Dinah") eventually take honors. Despite the lack of liner notes or exact recording dates, this entire series is quite fun and well worth investigating by trad jazz fans.

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