First Half

Big Bill Bissonnette

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First Half Review

by Scott Yanow

Trombonist Big Bill Bissonnette's International Jazz Band features both Americans and British trad players interacting during exciting ensembles and personable solos. The performance, recorded at a 1997 concert and released on two CDs, has quite a few lengthy selections but rarely loses one's interest. George Probert, mostly on soprano, is the dominant force although there are spots for the sparse cornet of Fred Vigorito, the hard-driving tenor saxophonist Sarah Bissonnette, and the leader himself, whose style is reminiscent of Jim Robinson and Kid Ory. The rhythm section is excellent, with multi-instrumentalist Clint Baker showing that he is a colorful and driving drummer. Highlights of this "first half" (which has two vocals from Big Bill and one by Tuba Fats) include "Exactly Like You," "Careless Love," and "I Can't Escape From You." Fun music.

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