So rarely attempted these days, the two-beat rhythm was once the ubiquitous drive of what was called “hot jazz” back in the Golden Age of Jazz, circa Great Gatsby. These latest two sessions bring back that infectious groove that gets under your skin like nothing else; one by going to the original source, and the other mixing in some stuff from later generations.
Vibist and vocalist John Cocuzzi lays down an irresistibly swinging session here with Antti Sarpila/cl-ss, John Sheridan/p, James Chirillo/g, Frank Tate/b and Joe Ascione/dr-per through some classic 2/4 and 4/4 cookers. He’s got the shuffle beat down on Jerome Richardson’s title track, and is also able to make the sticks ache a bit on “Did I Remember?” and “What’ll I Do?”. His vocals are sublime on “The Glory of Love,” while Chirillo subtly sways on “Mellow Guitar.” Sarpilla has a lovely tone throughout on his solos, particularly on “Did I Remember” as the leader takes it away on “How Am I To Know.” This one will get you on the dance floor.
The tribute to James P Johnson has leader/guitarist/banjoist Marty Gross fronting a vintage sounding band that includes string bass, tuba, C-Melody, blocks and celeste, along with the usual sonic suspects. The team of James Dapogny/p, Dan Block/cl-bcl, Jon-Erik Kellso/tp, Scott Robinson/saxes, Vince Giordano, bass sax-bass-tuba and Arnie Kinsella/dr-perc will get you fox trotting in no time through material dominated by Andy Razaf Cecil Mack and Henry Creamer. Well known warhorses like “Charleston” and ”Alabama Stomp” are just as infectious as they were almost a century ago, while the old school soloing by the front line has earthy tones that tell a story at every bar. Sepia toned music, to be sure with a touch of indigo written with a fountain pen.