Gregg Stafford

Praying and Swaying, Vol. 1

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The lines between blues, jazz, and old-time gospel often get blurred when traditional jazz players get together. The three genres are honored on this meeting of Gregg Stafford and Dr. Michael White, members of a generation when traditional music no longer held the eminent place in the hearts and minds of jazz fans it once had. But these two relative youngsters are New Orleans natives and, for them, the music is in their blood. For almost 70 minutes, they reveal just what that heritage means with a program acceptable to venues from Preservation Hall to a gospel tent meeting. On the gospel side, the mournful Stafford trumpet pays its last homage to a dearly departed on "Flee as a Bird to the Mountain," with an abiding muffled drum roll by Taff Lloyd. Gleeful, hallelujah-I'm-redeemed gospel is revealed by White's clarinet on "Lead Me Savior," with Emil Mark's banjo doing rhythm duties. Hot jazz is front and center with "Bugle Call Rag," as White's wailing clarinet and Stafford's "dirty" trumpet go at each other full bore. There's a clever combination of "By and By" and traditional jazz's national anthem, "When the Saints Go Marching In." This track is one of four cuts where Stafford vocalizes in his Louis Armstrong-derived manner. Of the blues cum jazz tunes, "Fusty Bottom Blues," featuring Reide Kaiser's piano and Colin Bray's bowed bass, stands out. The second "29th and Dearborn" is a bonus track, with White's clarinet carrying on as Stafford is absent. The two soloists are admirably supported by veteran traditional jazz players. This album is authentic stuff and is recommended.

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