New Year's Eve Live at the Village Vanguard

Dr. Michael White

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New Year's Eve Live at the Village Vanguard Review

by Rose of Sharon Witmer

The people of New Orleans really know how to have a party, from Mardi Gras to a backyard crawfish boil. New Year's Eve is no exception, and this CD captures the New Orleans party spirit live and on the road in New York. In what has become an ongoing tradition, Dr. Michael White & the Original Liberty Jazz Band take their polyphonic traditional jazz sound to the renowned Village Vanguard to ring out the old and ring in the new, Big Easy style. The joyous event has become quite a happening and is broadcast live on many NPR stations across the country. This CD was recorded in 1992, and can be played whenever you need a lift, or want to have an instant dance party. The CD is simply one of the best live jazz performances ever recorded. The intimate atmosphere of the club, the enthusiastic crowd, and the fantastic lineup of jazzmen combine for a rare listening experience. Dr. Michael White, who is a university professor of Spanish, is also quite the traditional jazz historian. His knowledge serves him well as master of ceremonies. Then there is his clarinet. It sounds sweet and clear, especially on his rendition of the French unofficial national anthem, Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur." The Original Liberty Jazz Band is made up of some of the greatest players of traditional jazz in New Orleans. Most play regularly at the venerable Preservation Hall in the French Quarter. They include Steve Pistorius on piano, Pappa Don Vappie on banjo, Wendell Brunious on trumpet and vocals, Freddie Lonzo on trombone, Richard Paine on bass, and Louis Cattrell Jr. on drums. Together, they turn in some fine music. Wendell Brunious is entrancing on the vocals of "Kiss Me Sweet," the album's only slow-tempo cut. Most of the pieces are high-energy tunes that tear the roof off the place. "By and By," "Canal Street Blues," and "St. Philip Street Breakdown" are standouts. The group is then joined by special guest Wynton Marsalis for the finale, a swinging "Lord, Lord, Lord." What a way to bring in the New Year.

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