JOHN SKILLMAN”S BARB CITY STOMPERS                                                                    DeKalb Blues                                                                                                                                          Delmark 252

Skillman – clt; Roy Rubenstein – tbn; Larry Rutan – gtr; Robert Hinzsche – bs vln; Aaron Puckett – dms; Diana Skillman – vo (tk 9). [Chicago; 22 October, 2009]

Milneberg Joys/DeKalb Blues/Martha Too/When I Grow Too Old to Dream/Hindustan/Sweet Sue/Lady be Good/I’m Travelin’/Yes Sir! That’s My baby/Old Stack O’Lee Blues/I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles/My Old Kentucky Home.   [TT: 60.06]

BRAD GOODE                                                                                                                                     Tight Like This                                                                                                                             Delmark 594

Goode – tpt/Adrean Farrugia – pno/Kelly Sill – bs vln/Anthony Lee – dms.   [Chicago; 7-9 July, 2010]

Tight Like That/Changes/Nightingale/Reaching for the Moon/Reverse the Charges/Summary/Midwestern Autumn/Climbing Out/The River/Bob’s Bounce/Softly, As a Morning Sunrise.     [TT: 58:00]

JOHN BURNETT ORCHESTRA w. Buddy DeFranco (“special guest”)                                Down For Double                                                                                                                           Delmark 596

Burnett – leader; Current personel (2010) is Terry Connell, Mike McGrath, Doug Scharf, Scott Wagstaff – tpts; Adam Gross, Russ Phillips, Dana Legg – tbn; Bill Walsh – bs tbn; Bob Frankich, Justin May – as/Mark Colby, David Kublanl – ts; Bruce Mack bs; Frank Caruso – pno; Paul Martin – bs vln; Bill Bryan – dms. Add Buddy DeFranco – clt on 10, 11, 12.   [1-6; Oakbrook Terrace, IL – February, 2010; 7, 8, 9; Berwyn, IL – 2005; 10, 11, 12; Chicago,IL – October 2000]

In the Mood/In a Mellow Tone (sic)/Basically Blues/The Heat’s On/Down For Double/One O’Clock Jump/Wind Machine/West Side Story/Cottontail/Sing Sing Sing/Out of Nowhere/The Blues.   [TT: 60:00]

This batch of Delmark CDs begins with a semi-pro group from DeKalb, IL that specializes in older material and approaches – old tunes and some degree of collective improvisation laden with solos. The band has an interesting selection of instruments (tbn, clt, gtr, bs vln, dms) and they play them well and swing a bit more strongly than merely politely – definitely not cranked up to “11”, though! They call it “Hot-Trad-Swing”… that soubriquet works for me. The derby-muted trombone and the clarinet make a nice, uniquely solid front line and they are well supported by the rhythm guys on a varied selection of material that goes as far back as Steven Foster. Many old favorites are covered and covered well, not being merely carbon copies (remember those?!) of the original records. Nice and gentle stomping for all – they’d be great to see/hear in person in DeKalb, as they drop their day jobs and have fun – foot-tappin’ good. (Diane Skillman’s one vocal is an acquired taste, though, one I’ll pass on although representative of much ‘20s unswinging singing – think Lillie Delk Christian.)

Brad Goode’s fourth album for Delmark is in quartet format, with a selection of five originals and six unexpected standards. I have a number of quirks in my listening preferences – I tend to avoid piano trios, or horn plus rhythm quartets, preferring to hear more than one horn in the mix. Probably the result of having WNEW-AM constantly playing everywhere in my house as a kid in the 40s and 50s – brainwashed by the big bands! Brad’s music is hard for me to pigeonhole, but that’s my problem, isn’t it! These guys are GOOD – I am especially taken with pianist Adrean Farrugia, but they’re all top-notch players with something to say. As it says on the tray card, “Brad’s quartet takes a bold, modernistic view of classic jazz material, along with five new Goode originals.” That says it better than I can – this one will not submerge into “the collection”, but will get more play after this review is put to bed. It is challenging in a good way and has caught my interest, and may likely do so with you as well – try it. While I cannot say Brad Goode “Sounds like… ”, as Duke is cited as saying, there are two kinds of music, good music, and the other kind – this guy is GOOD music (no pun intended! At least I left it to the end of the paragraph!!).

Another Delmark big band album from Chicago’s WDCB Public Radio DJ John Burnett featuring some mainly well-known pieces from the books of Basie, Ellington, Rich, Miller, Krupa, Goodman, and Slide Hampton (Maynard Ferguson?). This CD is taken from three sessions spread over a decade, the first two coming from “live” performance venues around Chi Town, while Buddy DeFranco guests on the final three tunes from a studio date from 2000. Personally, I find the “West Side Story” arrangement from the Buddy Rich book to be a bit dated. The listed personnel is only the current one – Mike McGrath is the tenor soloist on Track 6; Mark Burnell is the piano soloist and Lennie Roberts on tenor sax for Track 7. On the DeFranco sides, Frank Catalano is the clarinet soloist, Frank Catalano on tenor sax, Mike Flack on piano, and David Gross on trombone. Accurate personel for the 2005 and 2000 sessions is not really given. As I wrote in Vol 42, No. 1 (Mar 2009), p.84 of Delmark 584 (correct release number): “… I like my big bands less beige and comfortable than this! Over an hour of good, not great, big band music – luke-warm recommendation from me, but big band nuts may be satisfied.” It is still a valid commentary, but it’s good to hear DeFranco in this sort of setting once again. The final DeFranco track, a Slide Hampton arrangement/composition “The Blues” is the best one on the album, by far. A “comfortable” record.


Published: IAJRC JOURNAL; Mar 2013 – Vol 46, #1: pp. 74-75.

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