Long Way from Saint Louis

Ralph Sutton

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Long Way from Saint Louis Review

by Ken Dryden

Ralph Sutton was recorded with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band (just over a year and a half prior to his death) for a tribute program in Cullum's long-running Riverwalk public radio series. The pianist is in his usual top form, including potent solo treatments of Fats Waller's "Viper's Drag" and his infrequently performed "Clothesline Ballet," as well as two gems by Willie "The Lion" Smith, "Morning Air" and "Echo of Spring." Sutton is joined by John Sheridan (Cullum's pianist) for a duo romp through "Fine and Dandy" (adding bass and drums in the background), while the full band accompanies the two keyboardists for a boisterous take of "St. Louis Blues." Cullum's band swings well along with its guest on oldies but goodies such as "(Back Home Again In) Indiana," "Ain't Mishbehavin'," and "There'll Be Some Changes Made." It's sad to realize that this may be one of Ralph Sutton's final recordings, but this talented exponent of classic jazz and stride piano at least was not ignored, as he was recorded numerous times in his final years. This excellent CD, which also includes a brief interview with Sutton by program host David Holt, will be savored by his fans.

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