Boilermaker Jazz Band

Honky Tonk Town

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Named for a saloon beverage prepared by dropping a shot of whiskey into a mug of beer, the Boilermaker Jazz Band grind out traditional jazz with no frills or veneer. Formed in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1988, this stoic little seven-piece unit tosses off warhorses and originals with just the right blend of vinegar precision and earthy nonchalance, resulting in friendly, frowsy music comparable to that of Bunk Johnson, George Lewis, Albert Nicholas, or Art Hodes. The Boilermaker's third album, Honky Tonk Town, was released by Biograph in 1997 and reissued by Collectables in 2008. Clarinetist Paul Cosentino leads the group, with Jay Cosentino blowing trombone and Andrew Cosentino the trumpet. The band's steerage is composed of string bassist Ernest McCarty, banjoist Dan Davisson, pianist Nelson Harrison, and drummer Rich Strong. Especially fine is their laid-back rendition of Jelly Roll Morton's beautiful slow drag "Winin' Boy Blues." The altering of the spelling that transforms "Winin'" into "Whinin'" is unfortunate, as it distances the title from the original reference to Morton's Storyville nickname; "Winin' Boy" was short for "Winding Boy," a phrase that referred to a tireless stud. The addition of the "h" would therefore seek to transform the sexual dynamo into a horny kvetching nuisance, but really that has nothing to do with the music played by the Boilermaker Jazz Band.

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