Lucky 7s

Lakefront Digital LFD-2-006

Close cooperation between New Orleans and Chicago musicians has a history that goes back as far as King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. While the rapprochement lessened during the modern jazz era, better communication and the devastation caused by a certain recent hurricane has created fortuitous couplings like the one captured here.

New Orleans trombonist and tubaist Jeff Albert and Chicago trombonist Jeb Bishop were the catalysts. Looking for a Chi-Town gig for his hometown band, Albert was convinced by Bishop to put together this septet which blends Louisiana and Illinois players. Bassist Mat Golombisky and drummer Quin Kirchner are also from the Big Easy, while cornetist Josh Berman, reedist Keefe Jackson and vibist Jason Adasiewicz are Windy City residents. Miraculously for a first-time match up, the combined ensemble ends up sounding as if they’re long-time band mates.

If nothing else, even a cursory listen to the CD would allow you to guess the New Orleans orientation of Lucky 7s. Scattered among the more modern musical references you can hear slap bass à la Pops Foster, nerve beat stick manipulation, rim shots and hi-hat slaps à la Paul Barbarin, huffing tuba blasts from Albert and raucous gutbucket style trombone solos that pay homage to Kid Ory. As a matter of fact, when the urge hits, Lucky7s isn’t above slipping into Second Line or March time.

About the only unusual – in a Crescent City fashion – sounds are provided by Adasiewicz’s vibes and Jackson’s bass clarinet (he also plays tenor saxophone). However, the vibes’ long-lined, andante polyrhythms usually fit perfectly with tuba pops and strummed bass lines Meanwhile, not only do the swollen licorice stick’s coloratura lines blend with bluesy trombone burrs, but the full-force drone created by Jackson and Kirchner beats give “504 No More …?” a modal implication similar to some of John Coltrane’s compositions.

Referring to New Orleans’ area code, Albert’s composition is invested with appropriate melancholy harmonies to reflect New Orleans’ present geographic dilemma. Still the mournful funeral-like mood is intersected by cross patterned drum beats and extended plunger work, likely from Bishop.

Appropriately enough that dirge is followed by two of the CD’s liveliest tracks which end the session on a high note. Both Bishop’s title track and Albert’s “Bucktown Special” are foot lifters in a fine tradition. The former tune builds up to a rollicking stop-time ending. Before that, the crescendo of vamping horn lines are briefly interrupted by a tension-releasing vibe solo, and followed by a traditional-modern percussion display by the drummer.

More than 12-minutes long, “Bucktown Special” is a slinky Second Line march that takes as much from greasy R&B as Trad Jazz. An unrefined strut, it includes a blues- drenched, rocking tenor sax solo, woody slap bass, hi-hat kicks from Kirchner, riffing Fats Domino band-style horns and a funky plunger trombone outburst – probably from Albert. All this revolves on top of a parade-line beat that’s an appropriate summation of all that went before it.

With such a fine debut, here’s hoping that listeners will be able to hear another Lucky 7s disc before too long.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Stitch 2. Swirling 3. It’s Something To Try. For Today At Least 4. Belgrade 5. 504 No More…? 6. Farragut 7. Bucktown Special

Personnel: Josh Berman (cornet); Jeb Bishop (trombone); Jeff Albert (trombone and tuba); Keefe Jackson (tenor saxophone and bass clarinet); Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone); Matthew Golombisky (bass and effects); Quin Kirchner (drums)