This a two-CD set of Canadian multi-reed player Jim Galloway's performances at various Toronto jazz venues initially issued on LPs, but no longer available. Jim Galloway teams with two pianists, Dick Wellstood and then Jay McShann, before joining with trumpet and clarinet player Humphrey Lyttelton, England's consummate purveyor of New Orleans traditional music. The session with Wellstood includes tunes usually associated with New Orleans and other traditional jazz, and Galloway and Wellstood perform them admirably. Traditional New Orleans played in a low-key manner is the feature on their get-together. The only problem is that on a couple of cuts, such as "Blues Alley Bump," Pete Magadini sounds as if he's using a club rather than a stick on the drums, making for some unpleasant thumping. The work with McShann shows Galloway's versatility as they move away somewhat from the traditional jazz mode and direct their efforts toward more of the classic standards. Given McShann's musical bent, there is a bluesier feeling to this set than the set with Wellstood. One of the highlights is their poignant, delicate version of "Black Butterfly." Galloway's soprano sax is expressive, capturing Ellington's fluttering, wafting, delicate image in this 1938 composition.
Again showing his dexterity, Galloway fits right into the style of Britain's premiere revivalist of traditional music, Humphrey Lyttelton. All the cuts here are written by the British musician and reflect his perception of what trad jazz really means. It comes with a strong Louis Armstrong flavor. His compositions reveal that, at least on this occasion, the music takes on a more sophisticated mien than one usually hears in the New Orleans style. Listen to "Caribana Queen" where, as the title suggests, there is a Caribbean flavor mixed in with the New Orleans gumbo. It creates the image of a Crescent City band marching down the street with a little more swagger in their hips.
This release restores to jazz fans three albums that have long been unavailable, in an attractive package with more than two hours of music. Music Is My Life shows the many facets of Galloway's talent as he teams nicely and comfortably with jazz artists who are all worthy of these mutual collaborations. Highly recommended.