Eleven Sons of Rosy / Dan Levinson

Where the Morning Glories Grow

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Rosy McHargue was a much-beloved C-melody saxophonist, clarinet player, and vocalist who was still active in his 97th year. In fact, among significant jazz musicians, he was the second oldest of all time to still be playing, outliving fellow saxophonist Benny Waters by a few months and being behind only 100-year-old Eubie Blake. McHargue began his career in the 1920s, first recorded in 1926, and played with Frankie Trumbauer, Ted Weems, Benny Goodman, Pete Daily, Red Nichols, and Pee Wee Hunt, among many others. During his last couple decades before he died in 1999, he enjoyed playing in the Los Angeles area with much younger musicians who learned about classic jazz and obscure tunes from the master. One of those players who goes out of his way to proclaim his musical debt is Dan Levinson, a fluent C-melody saxophonist and clarinetist who has beautiful tones on his instruments. For this special project put out by his Loup-Garous label, Levinson gathered together other alumni from McHargue's later years and performed 17 of his favorite songs. Because McHargue loved to sing (particularly little-known lyrics), there is a generous amount of vocalizing on this set from the likes of Levinson, John Reynolds, James Langton, and Ian Whitcomb, along with some instrumentals. Some of the singing is quite sentimental and dated, but it is always heartfelt and musical. A special moment is on "O'er the Billowy Sea," for it is a practice tape of McHargue himself singing and playing piano; Levinson and his musicians overdubbed their parts to give McHargue a full band. Other highlights include "Where the Morning Glories Grow," "I'm All Bound 'Round With the Mason-Dixon Line," "Mandy," "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now," and the haunting "Blue Is the Night." Along with Levinson, the other players include either Corey Gemme or Dick Miller on cornet (Randy Reinhardt sits in on "San Antonio"), Keith Elliott doubling on trombone and C-melody sax, the reeds of Geoff Nudell and Bob Reitmeier, pianist Robbie Rhodes, guitarist John Reynolds, Westy Westenhofer on bass, and drummer Larry Wright. The extensive 38-page booklet makes it possible for new fans to learn all about the remarkable Rosy McHargue, while veterans will also find new information. This is a classy release and highly recommended to fans of the hot dance music that McHargue loved to revive and play.

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