The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3060: “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams” -
The Easy Riders Jazz Band

Personnel: Big Bill Bissonnette [tb], Fred Vigorito [ct], Sammy Rimington, Paul Boehmke [rd], Bill Sinclair [pn], Emil Mark [sbs], Arnie Hyman, Mouldy Dick McCarthy [sbs], John Russell [dm]

Songs: Linger Awhile, Maria Elena, Algiers Waltz, Chicken [Ain’t Nothing But A Bird], Daddy’s Little Girl, Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams, Moonlight & Roses, Tuck Me to Sleep In My Old Kentucky Home, Apple Blossom Time, Down by the Riverside, Creole Song, Solitude, Swing That Music.

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3060: “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams” -
The Easy Riders Jazz Band


A while ago Jazz Crusade published a twofer "Then And Now" (JCCD-3037/38). On the first CD we could hear the Easy Riders 1965-66, on the second the reunion band recorded in 1998. When I reviewed this set I said that, despite the nostalgia the older band brought with it, I preferred the 1998 version because youthful elan had given place to a much more mature approach, nurtured by many years of additional experience. The tempos were much better chosen and the rhythm was more relaxed. Bill told us then that on the 1998 date enough was recorded to fill a second CD. We have been eagerly waiting for the rest of that session and here it is, giving us the full amount of great music we expected, seventy minutes of it!
Listening to the second part of the 1998 session I can only repeat what I said about the first part. This band gets as close as possible to the rugged sounds of the New Orleans bands that played in the old dance halls in the forties and fifties. Fred Vigorito, obviously inspired by the great Kid Thomas, plays a simple, strong lead trumpet, very effective in the many ensemble choruses. Just like his model, he's sizzling hot one moment and very lyrical the other moment. Listen, for instance, to his work on "Apple Blossom Time" and "Solitude". Sam Rimington is his usual excellent self. Again the presence on some tracks of the regular reed player, Paul Boehmke - no slouch either on clarinet and tenor sax! - results in some great duets and ensembles. It is obvious that both men inspired each other very much. I have already told you many times how much I enjoy Bill Sinclair's simple, but beautiful piano playing. Both Emil Mark and John Russell do exactly what we expect a banjo player and a drummer to do in a New Orleans b and and they do it in an exemplary way. Arnie Hyman is a worthy replacement of the original
Easy Riders bass player "Mouldy" Dick McCarthy. The latter is present only on a few tracks because of serious health troubles at the time. Since this session Dick has died. This was his last recording session, a worthy way to end a distinguished jazz career. Bill Bissonnette again proves that he is not the Jim Robinson clone some people pretend he is. He is much more than that, but above all he is an extremely fine catalyst, whose presence inspires his fellow musicians to deliver their best work. The most remarkable quality of this band is the empathy that exists between its members. A very good example occurs on "Creole Song". After Big Bill has put down an excellent Kid Ory-like solo, Fred Vigorito reacts with some great Mutt Carey stuff. By the way, the reason this track has no beginning was that the audio engineer was taking an audio check, while the musicians thought that he had actually recorded the song right from the start. After Bill found this "incomplete" track on the tape, he decided to include it anyway and he was right! "Creole Song" is one of my many favorite tracks on this album.
Those who already have the twofer "Now And Then" will notice that two tracks on that set, appear again on this CD: "Apple Blossom Time" and "Solitude". The reason is that in both cases the present versions are quite different to the ones on the earlier issue. On "Apple Blossom Time" we get a duet of clarinet and muted trombone instead of the clarinet solo on the twofer, and it IS a nice duet as well! On "Solitude", the beautiful Ellington song, the two saxes we heard in the final ensemble on the previous CD, are now replaced by clarinet and sax. This second take was recorded on behalf of Sammy who thought the two saxes were a little heavy. Bill decided to use the first take anyway. Now we can compare and decide with whom we agree. Incidentally both these numbers also belong to my own favorites on this album, just like they did on the earlier CD. "Solitude" is a real beauty with the two clarinets interweaving delicate lines at the beginning. Both the trumpet and the trombone solo with mutes, adding to the lovely moodiness of this performance. Sam Rimington evokes Hodges in his solo, which is followed by a very individual and moving solo by Paul Boehmke on the tenor. Dick McCarthy requested "Algiers Waltz", which the band recorded 37 years ago with Kid Thomas. Bill says in his liner notes: "It was Mouldy's only request to play on this current session and I of course happily complied. It is a great track - maybe the best on the album". I agree wit him completely. Listening to this exquisite slow waltz I can see the couples moving solemnly around on the dance floor of Luthjen's or the Moulin Rouge. Kid Thomas loved to play waltzes and I can see why! Listen to the romantic solos of Sammy and Paul, to the plaintive muted trombone of Big Bill, to the delicate lead of Vigorito and to the San Antonio styled piano of Sinclair. This number gives me goose pimples every time I play it...Some may wonder if this is still jazz. Frankly, I don't care, it's great old-fashioned New Orleans music and that's good enough for me anytime. This well-recorded session again will be a great addition to anyone's New Orleans music collection.
- Marcel Joly

Boxell's Jazz Website

Warning: This Device Is Explosive; light blue touch paper and stand well clear. Ok, so this is a CD, so don't set light to it; but this album definitely is a cracker, albeit not so much explosive as a cornucopia of musical fireworks. Take for example, ' Linger A While'. This is a lovely Catherine Wheel of a tune. Now try ' Maria Elena' for the sound equivalent of a Mount Vesuvius that rises and falls in intensity. Then ' Algiers Waltz'; a Roman Candle tune with coloured sound balls popping up into the air. 'Chicken Ain't Nuttin' But A Bird' is a Jumping Jack with short bursts of energy taking it all over the place. And so I could go on, but I won't. All I will say is that this 1998 recording, which includes alternative takes of two tracks released on JCCD-3038, 'Now - The Easy Rider Jazz Band', is not a $10 bag of Chinese Cheapies. It is an A 1 display that will cause you to go: 'Oooo', and 'Ahhhh' and leave you disappointed when the show is over.
- Geoff Boxell

Cadence Magazine - U. S. A.

Big Bill Bissonnette offers up the musical equivalent of comfort food. Simple, hearty fare where the emotional associations are more important than originality or craftsmanlike preparation. This music is full of hearty hale fellow spirit, musicthat seems more like an exercise in bonding among the boys than musical expression. The listener is entertained by vicariously sharing the bonhomie. The repertoire contains the familiar and unfamiliar, ranging from the old to the ancient. All is played vigorously, with gruff tones and well-worn melodic turns of phrase. This music can be played with originality, but not here. That's not the point. Having a rousing good time is.
- David Dupont

AMG REVIEW - U, S. Jazz Guide

In 1998, trombonist Big Bill Bissonnette's Easy Riders Jazz Band had a reunion of the surviving original personnel for the first time since 1967. All of the music was released on "Now" and this particular CD. With cornet Fred Vigorito's playing hinting at that of Kid Thomas Valentine (although with better musicianship), Sammy Remington excelling on clarinet and alto (sounding a bit like George Lewis and Captain John Handy), Bissonnette contributing harmonies, and Paul Boehmke jamming on clarinet and tenor with the driving rhythm section, this is a heated and passionate set. True, the musicians are occasionally not perfectly in tune (though much of the time they are), but the creative and joyous playing overcomes any technical faults. Bassist Mouldy Dick McCarthy, who is on three of the 13 numbers, was ailing and making his final recordings. The repertoire is particularly inspired, including such unlikely songs for this setting as "Linger Awhile," "Algiers Waltz," the rambunctious "A Chicken Ain't Nothing but a Bird," "Daddy's Little Girl," "Tuck Me to Sleep in My Old Kentucky Home," and "Apple Blossom Time." A memorable effort.
- Scott Yanow

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