I saw a bumper sticker here in California that read JOE OLIVER IS STILL KING. I might take issue with that, since Papa Joe has many heirs, including that young man from back o’town, but I understand the sentiment.
The Yerba Buena Stompers share that feeling but they do better than just nostalgic affection: in their hands, King Oliver’s music comes alive, and I’ve closed my eyes at a YBS gig and thought, “This is what it must have sounded like at the Lincoln Gardens!” (Listen closely to the two-horn duet on DIPPERMOUTH if you doubt me.)
I know other bands are playing these tunes — somewhere, even as my fingers race across the keyboard — but no band sounds like the Stompers.
The Stompers are Conal Fowkes, piano; John Gill, banjo, leader, vocal; Clint Baker, tuba; Kevin Dorn, drums; Leon Oakley, cornet; Duke Heitger, trumpet; Orange Kellin, clarinet; Tom Bartlett, trombone. And this is how they looked and sounded on November 27, 2014, at the San Diego Jazz Fest, playing three Oliver-associated songs. Beautifully.
Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It’s the CHIMES BLUES:
And the RIVERSIDE BLUES by Thomas A. Dorsey:
Finally, for the young man mentioned above, the DIPPERMOUTH BLUES:
Some band. Long may they Stomp!
May your happiness increase!