Blues and jazz music have two things in common; a heritage that sees both springing from the same source (both in social and emotional terms), and an astonishingly rich variety within each idiom. And the further one delves into the music of yesteryear, the more one discovers hitherto unknown connections between 'em all.
Washington-based J Street Jumpers understand the connection between swing, jazz, and blues better than most, and musically they place themselves firmly in a time when all blended together into the popular music of the day. Unlike most neo-swing outfits who can't seem to avoid a certain element of either camp or cheese, though, they approach things for the most part as though time hasn't passed at all, as though hot, swingin', jazz was a musician's highest calling, and either dreamy, swooning romance or frenetic abandon on the dance floor were music's only purpose.
In short, they're big on authenticity. And for the most part they achieve it, although the guitar is occasionally a bit more prominent and a little more modern sounding than strict adherence to tradition would warrant. "Good For Stompin" is an all-cover collection ranging from a pair of Buddy Johnson numbers to some Basie; the tunes come from an era when jazz had developed the sophistication necessary for big band arrangements, but was still popular enough that appealing to the general populace meant tight, swinging grooves with incendiary solos.
There are a couple of instrumentals here that showcase some serious chops, including the title tune that gets things off to a rollicking start. Elsewhere vocalist Carmen Velarde handles most of the tunes, singing in a straightforward manner that's clear and precise but could use just a bit more playful sass. Pianist Arthur Gerstein tackles two, and while his isn't a particularly remarkable voice he pulls both off with style to spare. Everything's powered along by a four-piece horn section, and the musicianship throughout is exemplary.
If it's the modern version of swing you're used to, with everything played full-blast and flat out, you may find the J Street Jumpers a little sleepy. But if the pleasures here are subtler, they're all the richer for it, and stand up much better to repeated enjoyment.
An excellent outing, highly recommended!
PO Box 1450, Millersville, MD 21108
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