The Jive Aces: Diggin’ the Roots—Hot Jazz Volume II

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The Jive Aces

Diggin’ the Roots—Hot Jazz Volume II

(Golden Age Recordings)

December 10, 2018

Reviewed by Alix Cohen for Cabaret Scenes

This recording is not as much fun as seeing The Jive Aces’ physical shenanigans in person, and I miss the vocal call-and-response of a recent live performance. However, for those of you who haven’t experienced this exuberant group, it’s a swell introduction and unquestionably “up.”

“I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” (Fred E. Ahlert/Joe Young) erupts with buddy horns and boogie piano. Lead vocalist Ian Clarkson (also on ukelele and trumpet) delivers with attitude: “Om gonna smile ‘n’ say I hope you’re feelin’ bedda,” he sings. I dare you to sit still during the sax solo on the band’s up-tempo “(I’d Like to Get You on a) Slow Boat to China” (Frank Loesser), an oxymoron? The trombone acts like the sax’s Sancho Panza. “Ship da bob a dootin bob a doo dot” (admittedly phonetic) exemplifies Clarkson’s distinctive, round-edged vocal.

A rhythmic, hip-swinging “On the Sunny Side of the Street” (Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh) spotlights piano sass and copacetic brass. Vocally, Clarkson plays with the lyrics, bopping along happily, sometimes in conversation with the percussion. The band punctuates. A classic Johnny Mercer/Harry Warren “Jeepers Creepers” swings in with scat, anchored by the bass, and tickled by light drums.

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The sax seems to be at a playground.

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Clarkson duets with guest Toni Elizabeth Prima on “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne) with phrasing that emerges long and short like Morse Code. The trombone creates ribbons of melody, the sax embroiders the voices meld well—warm and open.

One of a very few mid-tempo numbers, “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” (Harry Barris/Ted Koehler/Billy Moll) has a nice, easy, insouciant feel and a cottony vocal.

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“Mack the Knife” (Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht/Marc Blitzstein) is low key, 1950s cool, replete with “hos!” and “hip, hips!” The brass seems to hum. A few more of these would be give welcome contrast.

“Ain’t She Sweet” (Milton Ager/Jack Yellen) features a back-and-forth with the piano conjuring tap dancing. “Ain’t Misbehavin’” (Harry Brooks/Andy Razaf/Fats Waller) is broadly enunciated.

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The music comments on the lyrics line by line. A winking, wah-wah trombone and sax keep it light.

The group loses me only when a very, very up-tempo “I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You) (DocDaugherty/A.J. Neiburg/Ellis Reynolds) segues into a Mexican-fiesta version of “It’s Only a Paper Moon” (Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg/Billy Rose). What?!

Jive Aces is high spirited entertainment respectful of origin, yet having its own (shared) good time.

The recording also includes John Fordham (tenor sax/clarinet), Vince Hurley (piano), Peter Howell (drums), Alex Douglas (trombone), and Ken Smith (double bass).

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen’s writing began with poetry, segued into lyrics then took a commercial detour. She now authors pieces about culture/the arts, including reviews and features. A diehard proponent of cabaret, she’s also a theater aficionado, a voting member of Drama Desk, The Drama League and of The NY Press Club in addition to MAC. Currently, Alix writes for Cabaret Scenes, Theater Pizzazz and Woman Around Town. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine and Times Square Chronicles. Alix is the recipient of six New York Press Club Awards.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Alex Douglas

    Woohoo, thanks for the lovely review. You seem to have the picture for Volume 1 though, not Volume 2. shall I send you the correct CD image to update?

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