Duke Heitger

Duke Heitger's Big Four

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Duke Heitger is perhaps best known as Banu Gibson's former trumpeter and for leading his Steamboat Stompers in New Orleans. A talented classic jazz player who really knows his jazz history yet has his own sound, Heitger recorded this CD with a quartet shortly before they appeared at a jazz festival in Finland. The combo, which also includes Evan Christopher on clarinet and alto, banjoist-guitarist John Gill, and Tom Saunders on tuba and bass, sounds surprisingly complete without piano or drums. Performing 18 diverse vintage selections, including King Oliver's "Too Late," a dramatic "When You're Smiling" (based on Louis Armstrong's early-'30s version), "Goody Goody," "West End Blues" (Heitger has no difficulty duplicating Satch's original solo), "You're Driving Me Crazy," and "My Honey's Lovin' Arms," the quartet creates a great deal of musical magic. There are three harmless enough vocals apiece by Heitger and Gill, the interplay between the two horns is consistently impressive, and the arrangements are creative while often hinting strongly at the original recordings. Highly recommended to trad jazz fans.

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