The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys Traditional Jass Band: Slightly Concussed

For some reason, “traditional” jazz like that served by James Williams and his New Orleans Swamp Donkeys gets short shrift and little respect. The fact is, there are fewer styles more inherently joyful than the pre-swing sounds delivered on these two discs, recorded “live” in swinging Netherlands back in 2015 and ’16. The two sessions are mixed together, with Williams singing and playing the trumpet with Haruka Kaikchi-Miles Lyons/tb, Connor Stewart-Marcus Miller/sax, Samuel Friend/bj, Edwin Brown-Wessell Anderson IV/tuba and Joshua Marotta/perc. Most of the tunes have Williams’ voice and trumpet tone giving homage to Louis Armstrong as on “I’m Confessin’” and “Up a Lazy River,” while Friend and Stewart contribute Teagarden-styled voice on a handful of tunes. The bouncing tuba creates a hip pulse as on “Just A Gigolo” and the banjo strums with joy on “Rosetta” and ”Charleston.” A few modern touches pop up, with Stewart warbling on “September in the Rain” and the band tearing through the ultra modern “Theme From Game of Thrones,” but for the most part you get bon vivant trumpet and ‘bone on “Star Dust” and toe tapping pieces like “On the Sunny Side of the Street” that dare you to sit still. Isn’t that a reason you fell in love with jazz in the first place?

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