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New Deal Rhythm Band: New Deal Rhythm Band

Artist: New Deal Rhythm Band
Title: New Deal Rhythm Band

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New Deal Rhythm Band: New Deal Rhythm Band

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An appreciation and notes By Philip Elwood San Francisco Examiner The New Deal Rhythm Band in various configurations has been performing its way through the San Francisco area for many years. The nine-piece ensemble represented on this the New Deals third LP played for a number of weeks high atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. In its early days the NDRB was a considerably less distinctive band than the 1982 version. Typical of such revivalist groups it gained its modest fame by re-creating sounds of the past sounds taken for the most part from vintage 78 rpm recordings. What makes the current NDRB a quite different and unique group is their tendency to play original materials scored along older traditional lines but not in any way copied from shellac discs. This is not as easy a task as some might think. It is one thing to take an older pop tune or a memorable recording and use that as the basis of an arrangement it is quite another to create ones own library of selections which may sound like the New Deal era of the 1930s but are actually designed to spotlight the various an many attributes of the NDRB. In fact this recent direction by the New Dealers has economic hazards too since the accurate recreating of old numbers will always bring out a certain kind of audience or one of a certain age but the playing of mostly original stuff assumes that the band itself can draw a crowd made up of many generations who want to hear their distinctive renditions. The New Deal Rhythm Band functioned as a musical anachronism for a number of years - young bright musicians playing shimmering old arrangements for audiences whose pop music memories extended from the late 1920s up to the World War II era. But talented and ambitious musicians get restless and indeed frustrated when their own creativity is squelched by leaden arrangements and few opportunities to solo or at least solo in free fashion. And so we have this third NDRB LP - of the eleven selections many are originals all are arranged by NDRB members some are obscure swing-era jump tunes and only one Theres a Boat Thats Leavin Soon could be called a standard and it is hardly among the Gershwins most famous numbers. The New Deal Rhythm Band sports three saxes - one of them is Jerry A. Ranger the groups leader and principal arranger-composer. The brass section contains but one trombonist and one trumpet-flugelhornist. This sort of complement of course requires expert musicians and those with strong chops and good wind. Youll note time and again on the LP the finesse of the brasses and the careful attention in the orchestrations to the balance between reed and brass lines. Hot Tonight written by Ranger and vocalist Linda Asher leads off the LP and is an excellent showpiece which demonstrates the bands current direction. Drummer Mark Clark kicks the beat pianist Kevin Chalk romps through the boogie-based theme Asher has a ball with the Beat Me Daddy -styled lyrics and saxist Steve Yamasaki reminds us that even the unwieldy baritone can swing mightily. On Hes My Lover Asher gets a fuller backup vocal support and both trumpeter Jim Kerl and trombonist Chris Cannard squeeze solos into the tight swinging complex arrangement. Uncle in Harlem begins like a Cab Calloway number ca. 1933 but expands into a marvelously entertaining vocal and instrumental arrangement. This is the NDRB at its best and is quite a tribute to Ranger who did the whole score sings the vocal and takes the soprano sax solo. Shuffle-rhythm is what we used to call the up-beat tempo of Chicken Feathers Louis Jordan used it a lot with his Tympani Five and later on Jerry Lee Lewis converted into a rockabilly form. The NDRB doesnt stick with it too long however and alters the tunes middle section into a stop-time backup for Cannards trombone and Yamasakis baritone. Theres a bit of a Woody Herman sound to Rangers arrangement of this instrumental. Asher down in her mellowest contralto range opens up the lavish treatment of Theres a Boat Thats Leavin Soon. The tenor sax that explodes regularly through this one is played by Dave Cowdin. This is a particularly effective treatment of a very difficult tune. Side II begins with the discs second and last strictly instrumental rendition. Its hard to realize how small the NDRB is compared to the four trumpets four trombone four sax monoliths that once represented the big band era. Ranger Rides Again which must be some sort of inside band joke features not Ranger but Yamasaki - who plays the alto solo and composed and arranged the piece. Arranger Kevin Chalk handles the Tex Beneke-style vocal on Teardrops from My Eyes with Asher joining in on both some solo vocals and in the backup ensemble. This has a country tinge to it but its a blended sound with a fine instrumental arrangement. This bands writing is something else. The Bottom Line is Love is a splendid original by Ranger and Asher written and performed in classic 1939 style. Muted trumpeter Kerl solos over a nice bass line by Tom Anastasio while trombone and baritone sax noodle in the background. Had it been written 40 years ago this could have become a Hit Parade contender - good number. The 1950 tune Bloodshot Eyes had the distinction of being both a country music hit recorded by its composer Hank Penny and a rhythm-and-blues hit recorded on King by Wynonie Harris. Here singing above his own arrangement Ranger has backup vocal help and a socking baritone sax solo by Yamasaki. The funkiest blues on this LP isnt out of the traditional blues background at all - its James Taylors Steamroller and the NDRB assisted powerfully by Norton Buffalos harmonica does it up to a fare-thee-well with Rangers arrangement sounding a bit like Blood Sweat 7 Tears might have done it. And what better way to end a show I mean a record than with a boogie jump-blues Trumpeter Kerl joins Asher on the vocals bassist Anastasio pumps along unmercifully there are four backup singers and Cannards trombone bounces in and out of the lead for most of the rendition. The brass section makes like a Stan Kenton ending and the show ends. The New Deal Rhythm Band is in fact fully as visual as they are audio - if their success is considerable as I have thought for some time perhaps theyll be putting out videodiscs. They have all the big-band tricks down pat and even feature some fancy steppin by Kerl Asher and others. For now however youll have to just listen.

1.1 Hot Tonight
1.2 Hes My Lover
1.3 Ive Got An Uncle in Harlem
1.4 Chicken Feathers
1.5 Theres a Boat Thats Leavin Soon for New York
1.6 Ranger Rides Again
1.7 Teardrops from My Eyes
1.8 The Bottom Line Is Love
1.9 Blood Shot Eyes
1.10 Steamroller Blues
1.11 Jump Jive Wail

H 0.22
W 12.23
L 12.23

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We offer a 30-day money back guarantee on all products purchased from All items must be returned as new in their original packaging, including all accessories and cables. Missing items will be charged based on suggested retail prices. All returns must be accompanied by a valid return authorization number (RMA) issued by Victrola. If an RMA is not obtained prior to shipping, the returned product will be refused and returned to sender. Shipping cost is not refundable and returns must be shipped prepaid by the customer. There is a 15% restocking fee that will be calculated based on the price of the product once the item is refunded. 

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