You know the ancient joke, where someone asks, “Do you want a book for your birthday?” and the response is, politely, “No, thank you, I already have a book”? Had you asked me, “Would you like a CD with ten songs, none of them known to you, in a genre that you aren’t familiar with, performed by a group with only three musicians people you know (or know of)?” it would have been very easy to pretend to be busy cleaning up the kitchen and ignore the question.
But oh! would I have deprived myself of immense pleasures because of suspicious narrow provincialism.
The evidence is here: Charlie Halloran‘s new CD, devoted to music that isn’t officially “jazz” but that swings irresistibly down new paths. Charlie’s summary is worth quoting in its entirety: Excited to release my new album of Caribbean music! Recorded straight to 78 rpm acetate disc, 1950s era biguines to liven up a cocktail party. Bottoms up!
And here you can enjoy the rhythms and sounds of this CD.
I knew Charlie as a splendid trombonist and bandleader — this is his first CD as a leader. So, without even hearing this CD, I wanted a copy because I have faith in Charlie as an intuitively gratifying creator of music. And when I learned that the music had been recorded to 78 rpm acetate discs at Twerk Thomson’s studio, I knew it would be special. (Here is the lowdown on Mr. T.) The disc turns out to be a wonderfully rewarding travelogue and time machine: taking me places both musical and emotional that are very pleasing: hotel bar in the Caribbean, say, seventy years ago, as one of the people commenting on the disc has said.
I don’t know anything about the vernacular music of Martinique; I don’t know the names of the dances the songs inspire; I’ve never had a Planter’s Punch, and I certainly don’t even want to type the song list — so I hereby disqualify myself from any pseudo-informed comment. But I assure you I’ve been wiggling in my computer chair, and if I had someone who was interested in wiggling on a more lavish scale, I wouldn’t be typing now, as this frolicsome music plays. And I will say that someone interested in the multi-cultural roots of New Orleans music will find much to notice, study, and love here.
This post is shorter than usual not because of a lack of enthusiasm — no, quite the reverse! — but because I’d rather people hear the music than spend time reading my words.
Aside from Charlie (trampagne — his preferred spelling — and instigator), the musicians are Tomas Majcherski, clarinet; Zayd Sifri, percussion; Pete Olynciw, string bass; Doug Garrison and Robin Rappuzi, drums; Tom McDermott and Shaye Cohn, piano; Max Bein-Kahn, guitar; Todd Burdick, banjo.
It’s a wonderful disc, full of pleasures. And for me, who sometimes feels hemmed in by similar repertoire, it is refreshing and inspiring.
May your happiness increase!