Mitch Woods

Big Easy Boogie

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Singer/pianist Mitch Woods, in addition to playing and recording with his regular band, the Rocket 88s, has devoted some of his discs to tributes to his blues, jump blues, and boogie-woogie heroes, particularly Keeper of the Flame, which features John Lee Hooker and James Cotton. The CD/DVD package Big Easy Boogie, as its name suggests, is Woods' salute to the music of New Orleans. The audio portion is a studio recording made in November 2000 that finds him fronting a band of New Orleans all-stars including such septuagenarian veterans as drummer Earl Palmer and saxophonist Herb Hardesty, with Dave Bartholomew, known as Fats Domino's co-writer/producer, producing and playing trumpet. Appropriately, Woods' songs are in a second-line New Orleans style, and the band plays them that way. The DVD adds more than two-hours-and-15 minutes of extra material, including footage of the recording sessions, a performance by the band at The 2002 Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans, and extensive interviews with Woods, Palmer, Hardesty, and Cosimo Matassa, Bartholomew's engineer. This is a package in which the nominal frontman, very much a traditionalist devoted to the idea of re-creating vintage musical styles, frequently takes a backseat to these seasoned sidemen, each of whom is old enough to be his father. While the music on the CD succeeds in recalling its antecedents, the real treat is watching and listening to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Palmer reminiscing about his days in the New Orleans and Los Angeles studios and on the road, whether he's speaking by himself or trading stories with Hardesty and Matassa. And this material actually takes up the bulk of the DVD, well over an hour of which is given over to it.

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