Trad jazz lovers are going to be quite pleased with the combination of American clarinetist Vache and Scottish-born, longtime resident of Canada, soprano saxophonist Galloway. It's like having two Sidney Bechets, or a comparable Bob Wilber-Kenny Davern pair in the house, swinging until they've exhausted the possibilities. Pianist John Bunch, bassist Michael Moore, guitarist Howard Alden, and drummer Jake Hanna make the ultimate rhythmic team behind Vache and Galloway -- they can do no wrong.
Of the 12 standard selections, two are from Bechet's book: The emotionally introspective "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere" gives sway to the clearly defined clarinet-soprano amalgam, but also gives solo space to Bunch and especially to the daunting Moore; "Shag" is a rousing swinger that lets the band cut loose without hesitation. There's a nod of the fedora to Benny Goodman with considerable interplay, and more evidence to the compatibility of the horns on the delightful "Lullaby in Rhythm." Jimmy Noone is feted on the uptempo swing battle "Oh Sister, Ain't That Hot," while "When I Grow Too Old to Dream" has been, and remains, the ideal Dixie-to-swing jam vehicle that sounds like the combatants are merely getting warmed to the task, though they start out in fourth gear. Of the older material is the early '20s swinger "San" done with the energy of today, featuring a counterpointed joust where Galloway wins out with the last word. "Cakewalking Babies From Home" (c. 1925) is a barnburner as Vache and Galloway alone set the tune ablaze. The quaint title cut, penned in 1929, is one of five arrangements on the date by Randy Sandke, with Alden loading up his plate during his solo and the reeds sharing sonic space. The listener can't help but think of Donovan's "I Love My Shirt" when listening to this. The most contemporary number is Oscar Peterson's gospel-flavored feature for Vache "Hymn to Freedom," while Galloway gets sole spotlight during the ballad "The Very Thought of You." At their most conversational, Vache and Galloway trade melody snippets back and forth for Johnny Mercer's "Dream," while the band collectively stretches out over nearly ten minutes on a loping, languid take of "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor."
Modern recordings of early period jazz can be overly nostalgic, but the spirit of Vache and Galloway transcends everything. Great music made by great musicians equals a must-buy for fans of this alive-and-well style.