Chuck Hedges

Just Jammin'

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While most jazz connoisseurs may not think of Milwaukee as having a jazz connection, clarinetist Chuck Hedges and his friends are determined to alter that prejudice on Just Jammin'. He's joined by vibraphonist Henry Buckwalter, guitarist Dave Sullivan, pianist Gary Meisner, bassist Mike Britz, and drummer Andy LoDuca for a swinging set of classic tunes. The small setting means that everyone gets a chance to cut loose on pieces like the eight-minute "Broadway" and nearly ten-minute "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You." The lovely tone of Hedges clarinet work meshes well with the vibes and guitar, giving the overall sound a nicely achieved balance. The band also achieves balance by alternating between ballads like "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?," light, breezy fare like "Sugar," and quick-tempo Latin pieces like "Samba Dese Days." There's also a surprisingly upbeat, happy take on "The Man I Love," with intense solo work by Buckwalter and Sullivan. As critic Mike Drew noted, even though this jazz reaches back to an earlier time, nothing on Just Jammin' "sounds dated." This is jazz reminiscent of Benny Goodman's small-group swing, and Hedges and his pals have created another fine album within this tradition. They've also proved that Milwaukee is a great place to find a jazz connection.

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