Out of the West Coast traditional jazz (often erroneously referred to as Dixieland) mold of Lu Watters, Turk Murphy, and the Firehouse Five Plus Two comes the Hal Smith Rhythmakers with guest, the undervalued but very talented singer Rebecca Kilgore. She also works a little on guitar. The regular Rhythmakers have also been expanded with the addition of three young musicians, to wit, trumpet player Marc Caparone, bass player Clint Baker, and pianist Chris Dawson. Together they have fashioned an album of Fats Waller melodies ranging from the infectious swinging material he was famous for as well as some very pretty melodies, most, but not all, penned with Andy Razaf. The album is by no means limited to oft-played Waller tunes. To their credit, Smith and Kilgore saw fit not to include "Ain't Misbehavin" and "Honeysuckle Rose" on the program. Instead, there is more than a smattering of Waller tunes that get a lot less play than these two warhorses. The very pretty "Gone" and the slow drag "How Can I, With You in My Heart" are just a few of the many gems that have been unearthed. There's plenty of hot jazz, too, to get the toe tapping. "I'm More Than Satisfied" features Caparone's burning muted trumpet and "It's You" once more with Caparone's trumpet on top along with stride piano by Dawson and strong bass by Baker. The New Orleans-like clarinet of Bobby Gordon, rarely stirring from the middle register, adds to the authenticity of this session's traditional style, especially with his solo on "I Hate to Leave You Now." There's a risk with issuing an album of traditional jazz in that it can get humdrum after a while. That trap is avoided with the presence of Rebecca Kilgore who has shown time and time again that no matter what she sings, she brings it to life. Moreover, Kilgore is quite familiar with this style of playing having recorded music in a similar vein with Dan Barrett and Dave Frishberg. A balanced play list performed by enthusiastic and talented musicians at home with Waller tunes pushes this album into the recommended category.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan