Dick Wellstood

Take Me to the Land of Jazz

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The short-lived Aviva label was launched with this 1978 LP. Pianist Dick Wellstood and guitarist-vocalist Marty Grosz are the main stars (their musical partnership would soon result in the Classic Jazz Quartet), but the contributions of the underrated Sam Parkins (doubling on tenor and clarinet), bassist Mickey Galizio, and drummer Tommy Benford (who used to play with Jelly Roll Morton) should not be overlooked either. This was one of the first albums to really give Grosz a strong opportunity to sing in his witty Fats Waller-influenced style. Highlights include "Let Yourself Go," "Take Me to That Land of Jazz," James P. Johnson's "Snowy Morning Blues" (a piano solo feature for Wellstood), "I'd Do Anything for You," and two versions of "The Gold Digger's Song." It is a pity that all of the defunct Aviva label's recordings are difficult to find, for its swinging classic jazz is consistently enjoyable.