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CD Review:  Jelly Roll Jazz Band, MMRC CD 45
Bert Thompson
CD REVIEW
by Bert Thompson

Ted Shafer’s Jelly Roll Jazz Band—NEW ORLEANS JAZZ (DIXIELAND) Volume
Three (Merry Makers Record Company MMRC-CD-45).  Playing time:  66m. 50s.
Copenhagen; Snag It*; She’s Crying for Me; Antigua Blues; Suez; Where Did You
Stay Last Night?; Buddy’s Habit; Aunt Hagar’s Blues; Snake Rag; I’m Going Away
to Wear You Off My Mind; Honey, Where You Been So Long?*; Sorry; Misery
Blues*; Sic ’Em, Tige; Jazzin’ Babies Blues; Creole Belles.
Personnel: Walt Yost, cornet; Mike Slack, cornet; Charles Sonnanstine, trombone,
vocal*; Roy Giomi, clarinet; Bill Gould, piano; Ted Shafer, banjo; Candy Sealy,
tuba; Jack Mangan, drums. Recorded live at the New Orleans Jazz Club of Northern
California’s monthly meeting at Pasand’s Lounge, Berkeley, California, on Dec 20,
1992.

Of this edition of the Jelly Roll Jazz Band, several members are no longer with us.  
Yost and Sonnanstine died several years ago, and recently Giomi passed away at the
age of eighty-two.  The rest are still active: Slack leads his own band, the San
Francisco Feetwarmers, based in Berkeley; Gould is located on the San Francisco
Peninsula; Sealy plays with the Gold Coast Jazz Band, among others, up in the wine
region of Sonoma; Mangan is now living in the Northern California town of
Eureka; and Shafer, of course, still leads his groups in the East Bay of the San
Francisco area.

The Jelly Roll Jazz Band’s book is comprised of many tunes associated with the
King Oliver and the Lu Watters bands, and this CD contains a good selection of
such.  The two cornets work very well together—witness, for example, the flawless
chromatic runs on Snake Rag.  I have always been partial to Yost’s playing.  Most of
the arrangements are by Sonnanstine and Robin Wetterau, and the band does them
justice.  Where there is opportunity for an improvised solo, they all rise to the
occasion.  It was good to hear again Roy Giomi, whom I had not heard for several
years.  Even though this recording was made some thirty-odd years after those made
by the Bay City Jazz Band, whose clarinetist Giomi was, he was still a fine clarinet
player, as this record shows.  Sonnanstine was another musician with impeccable
credentials and here is in top form, as usual. I have always also enjoyed
Sonnanstine’s vocals, all of them unfortunately a bit under-miked here—one of the
perils of recording live with portable equipment.  Another hazard is crowd noise,
but fortunately it is minimal and does not interfere with the listening enjoyment.

The back line holds its own as well.  Gould displays considerable inventiveness in
his solos and solidly backs the ensembles.  On tuba Seely lays down a firm
underpinning for the ensembles with a robust performance.  The two remaining
members of the rhythm section, Shafer on banjo and Mangan on drums, complete
the West Coast sound of the band, Shafer’s chords being on target and Mangan
displaying great taste as he punctuates each tune’s passages, be they ensemble or
solo, with judicious use of wood block, choke cymbal, or snare work.

This is a recording of a fine performance by the Jelly Roll Jazz Band that was well
worth issuing and is well worth a place on your CD shelf.  It can be ordered directly
from Merry Makers Record Company, 926 Beechwood Circle, Suisun City, CA
94585, the toll-free number being 1-866-563-4433.  The cost, post paid, is $16.00.  
Other mail order sites that carry Merry Makers Records can probably also provide it.
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