Gregg Stafford

Praying and Swaying, Vol. 2: Blue Horizon

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Volume two continues the exploration of the relationship between New Orleans traditional jazz and old-time hymns by two of the foremost practitioners of the art of traditional jazz: Dr. Michael White and Gregg Stafford. That there should be such a relationship is no surprise. A major task of traditional jazz and New Orleans brass bands was to play at funerals and other religious-oriented events. There's also a similar amount of enthusiasm associated with their playing. The hymnals on the set are matched with some of the more famous entries in the traditional jazz songbook. The result is a most entertaining and relaxed session by top-flight jazz musicians, irrespective of style. White's clarinet has a less woody feel to it, closer to Baby Dodds than to Barney Bigard. As a native of New Orleans and veteran of many a Crescent City-type jam session, he is blessed with whatever it is that makes jazz artists coming from this city so footloose and exciting. Stafford is no less blazing with his trumpet -- muted and open. He also vocalizes in a rough and ready manner on such cuts as "Lord, Lord, Lord." This is a happy hymn, as the group swings like mad on this cut. The same cast of characters who were on volume one join White and Stafford for this follow-up set. They all get plenty of solo time to show off their traditional jazz wares. Emil Mark's banjo is very prominent on such cuts as "Mahogany Hall Stomp" and "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen." Kaiser, Lloyd, and Bray also make their presence known in a most agreeable manner. This first-class traditional jazz CD is recommended.

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