Somewhere I read that the same facial muscles are used when we laugh and when we weep. Both sets of muscles got a workout while I listened to the debut CD of the Stockholm Stompers, CEASE FROM YOUR SORROW AND CRYING.
Here’s what I mean:
As you can instantly see and hear, the Stompers approach different kinds of musical material with deep feeling and energy. Their uptempo romps are raucous but expert (it takes great accuracy to appear so unrestrained and not fall over the edge into musical chaos). They bring to mind the small hot groups of 1936 on Fifty-Second Street, the Washboard Rhythm Kings, as well as an occasional echo of Spike Jones’ hot outchoruses. The listener never misses a cornet or a piano because the Stompers’ sound is both original and full. (And for those of you who take first impressions seriously or too seriously, please don’t be put off by the period attire or that some of the repertoire has been played a great deal: the Stompers are anything but formulaic. They really know the music.)
I knew about the Stompers because I’ve had the good fortune to meet and hear the brilliant guitarist / banjoist Jacob Ullberger both on disc and in person at the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, and he is responsible for a beautiful tenor guitar solo on Kärleksvals — a sweet musing interlude. Equally intriguing is the trio of soprano saxophone, guitar, and string bass on Watching Dreams Go By (Solitariness) — a delightful easily-swinging small classic. But my favorite performance on this disc opens and closes it — a somber, mournful offering of FLEE AS A BIRD (from whence the disc takes its title) — the first half of the traditional New Orleans funeral ritual. You’ll have to hear it in full to get its deep emotional impact, but it is very moving music.
The songs are: Flee as a Bird / The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me / When I Get Low I Get High / The Call of the Freaks / There’ll Be Some Changes Made / Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? / Limehouse Blues / New Orleans Bump / I Lost My Gal from Memphis / Watching Dreams Go By (Solitariness) / Billy Goat Stomp / I’m a Long Gone Daddy / Old Man Mose Is Dead / Kärleksvals / Who Stole the Lock on the Hen House Door? / Makin’ Whoopee / Lover, Come Back to Me / Postludium (Flee as a Bird).
And the participants: Ulf Dreber – soprano saxophone, vocal; Nikolas Viisanen – trombone; Jacob Ullberger – guitar, tenor banjo, tenor guitar, six-string banjo, clarinet, vocal; Alf Sjöblom — bass, tuba; Martin Ljungberg – washboard, bass drum, vocal, tenor horn, tenor banjo.
Candid music: hot, occasionally wild, and deeply felt.
May your happiness increase!