Type: Retro style jazz
I'm trying not to tap my feet while playing this CD. I can't do it!
The energy level of the band on this CD is unbelievable. I think this is partially due to the fact that it was recorded live in the studio, rather than being layered with overdubs. As one of the band members remarks on the the included multimedia computer track, this disc captures the live sound of the band, right down to the slight mistimings that often drive live performances.
The vocals, with the exception of Katharine Whalen's, are mediocre. More than anything else in the group, her keening voice is reminiscent of what New Orleans jump joints must have sounded like in the 1920's. Though all of the songs on this disc are original material, it is obvious that Whalen, Jim Mathus and the other members of the band have studied old 78s and jazz standards. Duke Heitger (cornet), Andrew Bird (violin) and Tom Maxwell (you name it, he plays it) stand out particularly for their talents, weaving solos around each other with practiced skill. The contrast of baritone saxophones to cornet is handled particularly well.
The production quality is not exceptional, though this kind of live recording comes across better on CD than it would have on LP. The compact disc's extended dynamic range allows a clear live sound, as opposed to muddy reproduction. Without it, I don't think this album would be as listenable. It would be too polished if done as a studio album, and that would take the fun out of it, so I think the production quality is appropriate for the music.
There are no lyrics on this album that will save the world, no socially-conscious words of deep meaning. Having fun is what this disc is all about, and if you have any tolerance for prohibition jazz at all, you will find that your feet just won't stop tapping.
Rating (out of a possible five):