Walter Payton

Live in Store at the Louisiana Music Factory

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The second of two Walter Payton CDs recorded at the Louisiana Music Factory -- far and away New Orleans' best record store -- this set from April 2001 features the Filé Gumbo Band, typically the outlet for the upright bassist's excursions into more traditional jazz. It's a superb introduction to the Crescent City's rich jazz history, because not only does Payton treat the material with a fine-tuned balance of reverence and enthusiasm, but also the sound quality is excellent, without the scratchy fidelity of archival recordings that could threaten the sensibilities of listeners weaned on digital mastering. (Ideally the disc would eventually lead them to the classics, but that's a discussion for another time.) Trumpeter Mark Braud assumes vocal duties for a handful of songs, including energetic readings of "Darktown Strutter's Ball" and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love," but the Filé Gumbo Band's secret weapon is Evan Christopher, who moves gracefully from tenor sax to alto to clarinet, stepping up to the latter for an electrifying rendition of "Hindustan."

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