Hal Smith

California Here I Come

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The 1989 edition of drummer Hal Smith's Rhythmakers is quite reminiscent of a 1930s Chicago jazz-type group. Cornetist Chris Tyle is heard throughout in top form, clarinetist Bobby Gordon emulates Pee Wee Russell as usual, Frank Powers is quite fluent on tenor and clarinet, and pianist Ray Skjelbred looks back toward Joe Sullivan and Jess Stacy while rhythm guitarist Jack Meilahn and bassist Mike Duffy are lightly swinging in support. Tyle, Smith and Duffy take occasional vocals but the emphasis throughout is on the superior material, coherent but exciting ensembles and personable solos. Among the 15 songs that the Rhythmakers revive are "Strut, Miss Lizzie," "California Here I Come," "Hello, Lola," "Oh Peter" and "Who Stole the Lock on the Henhouse Door." Trad jazz fans will definitely enjoy this outing.

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