As has been lovingly documented in Tom Stoddard's book Jazz on the Barbary Coast, San Francisco's jazz scene was fully formed and cooking up a storm before the First World War. The West Coast Dixieland tradition endured throughout the 20th century and is alive and well in the 21st. Banjoist Ted Shafer made his first New Orleans-styled jazz albums during the early '70s; his more recent work demonstrates an unwavering devotion to the tradition. Fortunately, Shafer has excellent taste and does not resort to tiresome corn. His seven-piece band is pleasantly propelled by two banjos and a tuba. The front line is made up of cornets, clarinets, and trombone. Some of these guys enjoy singing old-fashioned lyrics, but the backbone of this smart little group's repertoire is the grand old tradition of instrumental New Orleans polyphony. Choice cuts are Lloyd Garrett and Hart A. Wand's "Dallas Blues," Louis Armstrong's "Wild Man Blues," and Bill Whitmore's "New Orleans Shuffle."
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