Dewey Jackson

Live at the Barrel

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Considering that he was one of the big names on the early St. Louis jazz scene, trumpeter Dewey Jackson (1900-1966) has been ill-represented on recordings -- this live session, taped by Delmark honcho Bob Koester when he was an underage producer of a jazz radio show, is in fact the first full album under Jackson's own name, so it goes a long way toward providing evidence to support his lofty place in the city's musical history. Although it was taped in 1952, this music bears no relation to the progressive bop revolution then sweeping jazz, or anything else approaching a modern jazz sound, for that matter. Jackson was a traditionalist who had been at it since the '20s, and his set this night was packed with ragtime, giddy New Orleans-style staples, and rootsy blues. Familiar fare like "Tiger Rag," "When the Saints Go Marching In," "Bugle Call Rag," and "St. James Infirmary" were the stuff that jazz was built on, and while Jackson and his band didn't rewrite the book, they did pump some new life into those warhorses. Still, although his repertoire was ancient even by the early '50s, Jackson wasn't so much of a traditionalist that he couldn't imbue those standards with some fresh ideas, and his playing takes more than a few surprising turns during his solos and the sometimes tricky arrangements. Jackson was joined for the gig by the superb pianist Don Ewell, clarinetist Frank Chace, trombonist Sid Dawson, and drummer Booker T. Washington, all of whom were more than capable ensemble players as well as idea men who pushed the music about as far as it could go. One caveat: the recording quality, as might be expected from a 1952 homemade tape, is dodgy, with audience chatter and clatter often audible, though rarely distracting enough to be bothersome.

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