Silver Leaf Jazz Band: Streets and Scenes of New Orleans, Good Time Jazz GTJ-15001

from CD Review, June 1994

Traditional jazz is tricky stuff. In the wrong hands, it can turn into silly self-parody or solemn pedantry. Its unique blend of energy and delicacy, relaxed cheers and strong emotion need to be carefully balanced. For years we had to endure the antics of the the suspender and funny hat crowd, more recently we’ve been stared down by the stultifying tux and the gang.

The Silver Leaf Jazz Band neatly avoids typical traditional excess on Street and Scenes of New Orleans. It is, as the cover photo discloses, a white shirt and tie group – relaxed rather than silly, respectful rather than solemn.

As the disc’s title suggests, this excellent little band – just trumpet, trombone, clarinet, piano and drums – pays tribute to the city that was a major site for the development of jazz. Each song title refers either to New Orleans or to a street, section or landmark of that city. For the most part, this concept works well. It’s a joy to her the Silver Leaf bringing renewed life to “West End Blues,” “Canal Street Blues,” “New Orleans Hop Scop Blues,” “Back O’Town Blues,” and more.

The emphasis is on exquisite ensemble playing, short pithy solo breaks, and occasional simultaneous improvisations that arise naturally from the arrangements. The Silver Leaf performances offer great rhythmic, melodic and harmonic variety within the commitment to traditional jazz style. Whether you consider yourself a fan of that style or not, you’re likely to find a lot to enjoy and appreciate here.

Streets and Scenes represents the return to active recording by the Good Time Jazz label. It couldn’t be a more auspicious new beginning.

Tom Krehbiel

From The Mississippi Rag, May 1994

The Good Time Jazz label is actively recording new material! And New Orleans’ own Silver Leaf Jazz Band is the featured band on GTJ’s first recording in 25 years. The SLJB performs a wide range of material in a variety of classic jazz styles; the band is simply one of the finest ensembles active in the traditional jazz scene today.

The Silver Leaf Jazz Band performs regularly in New Orleans at the “Can-Can Jazz Café” of the Royal Sonesta Hotel. Their nightly sessions give the lie to skeptics who say that there is  no real jazz being played these days in the Crescent City. Though the band normally works as a quartet, for the recording session a ringer has been added in the person of world-class trombonist David Sager. He is teamed with trumpeter/leader Chris Tyle, clarinetist Jacques Gauthe’, pianist Tom Roberts and drummer John Gill. The result is a formidable quintet which explores the sounds of New Orleans jazz from its World War I-Era flowering to its revival in the 1940s.

Special mention should be made of the Silver Leaf Jazz Band’s ability to play the tricky “Rag-a-Jazz” pioneered by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. The SLJB avoids the temptations of playing shrill burlesques, or lapsing into anachronisms. Instead, they display an understanding of and deep respect for this style of jazz. Though the “ODJB” cuts are excellent the standout track on the disc may well be “Basin Street Blues.” The SLJB has obviously been influenced by Louis Armstrong’s classic 1928 recording, but the band successfully evokes the spirit of Armstrong without resorting to note-for-note imitation of his record. It is truly an inspired performance! The CD’s theme has to do with New Orleans’ streets and scenes of intense musical activity which have been celebrated in song. The Silver Leaf band has managed to unearth some genuine rarities for inclusion in the program, alongside the “good old good ones” which one might expect to hear (such as “Tin Roof Blues” and”South Rampart Street Parade”). For instance, there are two Clarence Williams obscurities: “Decatur Street Blues” and “Gravier Street Blues.” These have been heard in Europe over the years, played by Ken Colyer, Bent Persson, Claus Jacobi and others; but have been largely ignored in this country.

“Back O’ Town Blues” is not the familiar blues associated with Armstrong’s All-Stars; the one heard on this disc is a toddle-like number played by the New York-based Cotton Pickers in the ‘20s. There is even a number from completely outside the traditional repertoire: “Border Of The Quarter,” from the Leon Redbone songbook (sung in good-humored Redbone-like fashion by John Gill). Most interestingly, there are four rarely-heard Johnny Wiggs compositions in the program: “Congo Square;” “Silver Leaf Strut” (actually called “Chef Menteur Joys;”) “Bourbon Street Bounce” and “Gallatin Street Grind.” These numbers are probably never played anymore, except at Hall Brothers Jazz Band reunions. “Chef Menteur” sounds for all the world like a Kid Ory tune. “Congo Square” features the hypnotic “bam-bou-la” rhythm also used in “Perdido Street Blues.” These two are especially good tunes and they ought to be heard more. The Silver Leaf Jazz Band deserves high marks for recording these unjustly obscure tunes.

Most traditional jazz fans are aware by now of the many important recordings featuring Chris Tyle, David Sager, Jacques Gauthé, Tom Roberts and John Gill. If, however, these are unfamiliar names, this disc will serve as a good introduction to their talents. The front line plays all the New Or1eans styles with authority and conviction. Tyle and Gill split the vocal chores which are in the best “Good Time Jazz” tradition. And the two-man rhythm section achieves a remarkably full and interesting without the aide of chord or bass instruments.

This CD shows the quality which everyone has come to expect from Good Time Jazz: first-class music, superb engineering, entertaining and informative line notes and an eyecatching package. This is a production which should not be missed.

Hal Smith

From Offbeat (New Orleans), February 1994

The Silver Leaf Jazz Band – Chris Tyle (trumpet and vocals), Jacques Gauthe’ (clarinet), Dave Sager (trombone), Tom Roberts (piano) and John Gill (drums and vocals) – is a gigging band, working regularly in the (French) Quarter. The result of this familiarity and practice is clearly heard within the tight ensemble work – the essence of New Orleans Dixieland – on Streets and Scenes of New Orleans. Individual parts blend successfully to the greater whole on the opening ensemble, which kicks off “Farewell to Storyville.” The clean production of the CD, whish was recorded locally at Ultrasonic Studios, also accentuates the professionalism of this release.

New York City might say “Give My Regards to Broadway,” but in New Orleans we celebrate Bourbon and Basin streets. The clever theme running through this disc, as its title indicates, is streets and neighborhoods throughout the Crescent City. So we move from the opener, “Congo Square,” composed by Johnny Wiggs (we hear a lot from Wiggs here), move to King Oliver’s sophisticated “West End Blues,” hear Lil Hardin-Armstrong’s smoky “Perdido Street Blues,” and finish with a “South Rampart Street Parade.” Images of lively dance parties and second-line parades are enhanced when set in this moving-around-the-city theme. The music tells the story.

The mix of tunes on the 71-minutes disc (you get your money’s worth) runs from the familiar – “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans” – to the more obscure, such as the softly seductive “Gravier Street Blues” (written by Clarence Williams). This is a real fav on the album, with some fine New Orleans piano stylings from Roberts. In fact, the bluesy numbers – “Tin Roof,” “Canal Street” and “Basin Street” Blues – are the most satisfying here, with the bottom given attention by the trombone of the talented David Sager and a certain edge supplied by the horns of Tyle and Gauthe'.

Geraldine Wyckoff

from Stereo Review, July 1994

When I produced a series of New Orleans sessions for the Riverside label in 1961, I thought I was capturing the last gasp of traditional sounds from the cradle of jazz. I was wrong, of course. In fact, some of the musicians I recorded back then continued to play for another two or three decades, and there are still active keepers of the flame today. One such group is the Silver Leaf Jazz Band, a New Orleans ensemble whose members were transplanted from such places as New York, Pittsburgh and France. There is no innovation here; the band, which plays regularly in the tourist environment of Bourbon Street, is strictly a mirror of the past. The arrangements and many of the solos are derived from the classic recordings, which will make any collector feel right at home. "Perdido Street Blues," for example, is taken right from the 1926 performance by Lil Armstrong's New Orleans Wanderers, for example, complete with the wonderful George Mitchell/Johnny Dodds lead-in. Imitative? Yes, but the Silver Leaf gang has the right spirit to please the true traditionalists. 

Chris Albertson 

Jelly's Best Jam, Good Time Jazz GTJ-15002-2

from Jazz Times, November 1995

Four generations separate these musicians -- who (except for New York ringer Vince Giordano on bass) appear regularly at New Orleans boites -- from pioneers such as Jelly Roll Morton, this CD's unseen star.

Arrangements by pianist Tom Roberts and trombonist John Gill (a master of the Kid Ory smears) of less-familiar material, such as "Each Day," "If Someone Would Only Love Me," "Mr. Joe," and the novelty, "Mama's Got a Baby," capture Morton's orchestral approach to the keyboard. Orange Kellin's clarinet tells a mournful tale on "Blue Blood Blues" and Hal Smith keeps his percussion antiquarian and swinging. Chris Tyle's hot trumpet leads the charge with confident panache.

Four bonus tracks, rare 1938 performances of "Winin' Boy Blues," piano and vocal, and solo piano, "Creepy Feeling," "Finger Buster" and "Honky Tonk Music" makes this a must for Jelly Roll collectors. But the expert and loving re-creations of the five Red Hot Peppers recordings are fine and this CD should, on merit, appeal to people who dig jazz, not just "Jelly."

Dave Burns

from the IAJRC Journal, Spring 1995

Since New Orleans’ Jelly Roll Morton is back in the public consciousness, it’s fitting that this timely recording celebrates jazz music’s first major composer -- and it does so in both an interesting and novel fashion.

First off, a dozen of the old master’s compositions are performed here by one of New Orleans’ best and most actively working bands: the Silver Leaf Jazz Band, led by trumpeter Chris Tyle. This is the SLJB’s second CD on the newly revived Good lime Jazz label. While the configuration of the group is slightly different from that of its initial GTJ outing, we hear the same tight ensemble sound and well-rehearsed performances as before thanks to the arrangements primarily of John Gill and Tom Roberts and the musical direction of TyIe. The outcome is certainly in keeping with the spirit of the recordings of Jelly’s Red Hot Peppers.

At the same time, interspersed within the SLJB’s recreations are four original tracks of solo piano by Morton himself. Recorded in Washington only three years before his death for the old Los Angeles-based Jazz Man label, these recordings were acquired along with GTJ archives by the Fantasy group and could therefore be included herewith an unusual ploy in the recording business. I did not find the juxtaposition of old and new jarring. In fact, Jelly, just emerging from a period of relative obscurity, was in fine form for this 1938 date. Check out his dexterity on “Finger Buster.” For me, “Winin’ Boy” (with vocal) will always be a winner. These cuts make a nice lagniappe for the package as a whole.

Overall, this CD has much to recommend it. The varied musical program includes both better and lesser-known selections from the vast Morton corpus and it is well executed, both individually and collectively. Tyle’s confident lead is in evidence throughout while there is also plenty of space for him and the others to demonstrate their solo skills. This is another solid performance by the Silver Leaf Jazz Band.

Tom Jacobsen

From Offbeat Magazine (New Orleans), January 1995

Jelly Roll Morton has received more attention than usual recently, much of it from outside the traditional jazz domain. Attempts to interpret his music have ranged form spectacular misfires (the Dirty Dozen’s Jelly) to ingenious updating (pianist Marcus Roberts’ various recordings) to utter misrepresentation (Jelly’s Last Jam, the Broadway show which “adapted” his music and life to a more saleable agenda).

For all the lip service paid to Morton, little of his music is currently performed in the city of his birth. Many Dixieland bands plow through “Wolverine Blues” and the Morton-associated “Milneburg Joys” but most don’t go much further afield than that. There are able interpreters of Jelly’s music in the Banu Gibson and Preservation Hall bands, but at this point in time, the most accessible Morton specialists are the archivists who comprise the Silver Leaf Jazz Band. Its second release on the Good Time Jazz label is a solid, often top-notch look at the music of the first great jazz composer. Well-known Morton masterpieces like “King Porter Stomp” and “The Pearls” are here, as well as obscurities like “Mama’s Got a Baby” and “If Someone Would Only Love Me.” These novelties are well done, though I might have preferred a stab at more substantial fare like “Black Bottom Stomp” or “The Crave.” Chirs Tyle’s tautly emotional trumpet and Orange Kellin’s ever-tasteful clarinet animate some savvy arrangements by pianist Tom Roberts throughout.

As a peculiar bones, four recordings by Morton himself  (“Creepy Feeling,” “Finger Buster,” “Winin’ Boy Blues” and “Honky Tonk Music”) are interspersed here. I rather like the idea of a tourist buying this CD (on sale at their regular Bourbon Street gig at the Can-Can Jazz Café” and being jolted back to 1939 every four cuts – it never hurts for anyone hearing well-done recreations to have the original master in mind.

Tom McDermott

The Smiler, Stomp Off CD1258

from The Mississippi Rag, November 1994

It has been almost half-a-century since old Bunk Johnson left this world behind, and exactly 50 years since he recorded a few numbers with the remnants of the pre-World War II Yerba Buena Jazz Band. Over a decade passed before they were issued on one side of a Good Time Jazz LP entitled Bunk and Lu, with the flip side being the reissue of the first Lu Watters releases originally on the Jazz Man label. Bunk is reported as saying in his later years that the San Francisco crew was the best band he recorded with during his comeback.

In his notes for The Smiler, leader Chris Tyle informs us that there were more performances recorded by Bunk than the eight that were issued. Tyle's project was " record a few of the unissued tunes, with some appropriate extras, with a band playing in a style approximating the 1944. I feel we came close to capturing the ambiance of the original band but we also created a compelling unique sound."

I fully agree with his assessment. This CD is a remarkable approximation of Bunk's Frisco band that avoids copycatting by steering clear of all the issued numbers and imaginatively selecting apposite alternative tunes. The Silver Leaf Jazz Band does have a sound of its own, a New Orleans/San Francisco blend that is buoyant and exciting.

Chris Tyle (cornet/trumpet) has done an admirable job of emulating Bunk. The phrasing and attack show careful study of his style, and it is fun to hear Bunk's favorite ideas woven into new material. John Gill's trombone in reminiscent of his former employer, Turk Murphy, with a few Kid Ory licks thrown in for good measure. Nice clarinet work is provided by Tom Fischer and Barry Wratten. Steve Pistorius on piano is obviously fond of Jelly Roll Morton and Eubie Blake, and that doesn't hurt a bit. Lars Edegran, banjo, Tom Saunders, tuba and string bass, and Hal Smith, drums, round out the fine rhythm section. This is a strong lineup, and the guys sound like they are enjoying themselves.

And the tunes! What a great batch! There are some rarities here you've probably never heard (at least I hadn't), and there are some historical surprises. For example, "Bright Eyes, Goodbye," a tune by Egbert Van Alstyne, turns out to be the prototype of "Blue Bells Goodbye," which Bunk recorded in 1942. (He evidently got the title confused with another song, "Blue Bell," by Madden and Morse.) "Baby, I'd Love to Steal You" is an unpublished Tony Jackson number. Percy Wenrich's "The Smiler" is a delightful rag, very possibly in Bunk's memory bank. "I'm Afraid to Come Home in the Dark" is another Van Alstyne pop song that Bunk was eager to record, but never did. These are just a few of the intriguing tidbits of information in Tyle's liner notes, which are interesting to read and contain much material of interest to Bunkophiles.

We'll skip citations for solos (although there are plenty of good ones) except to note that all the band members get to takes breaks on "It Looks Like a Big Night Tonight," and they do make the most of it. Scampish as they all are, it is Hal Smith who takes the cake on this number with some delightfully frisky licks.

This CD is dedicated to the memory of jazz historian William "Bill" Russell, who first recorded Bunk Johnson and was his sponsor and benefactor. It is a worthy tribute.

Bill Mitchell

from Jazz Journal, May 1994

Chris Tyle is not only an excellent trumpeter and jazz researcher but also a stylistic chameleon. On a recent Ted des Plantes release he managed a fair impression of Red Allen, but here he's turned his attention to Bunk Johnson. Tyle's notes explain that the records Bunk made with the Yerba Buena band were the inspiration for this collection. Added to the tunes recorded on that occasion are some which Bunk and the Yerba Buena supposedly recorded, though they were never issued, and some which Tyle discovered (from discussions with Bill Russell) that bunk liked but never recorded. The leader doesn't try to imitate Bunk precisely (which would surely be very difficult) but he does capture the terseness of Bunk's style and a triplet-based phrase which was one of Bunk's trademarks crops up several times. Gill is suitably elemental and robust on trombone and the rhythm section bounces along cheerily though neither clarinet player makes much of an impression. Musically therefore this is nothing out-of-the-ordinary and it's the concept which would need to appeal for purchase to be considered.

Grahame Columbe'

Sugar Blues: A Tribute to Joseph "King" Oliver, Stomp Off CD 1298

from IAJRC (Internal Associatation of Jazz Record Collectors) Journal, Summer 1998

The joy of listening to two-cornet bands is brought to bear by these two excellent discs from Stomp Off (reviewed with Stomp Off CD1307). The band under Chris Tyle is not a working band, but comprises members from other groups including Leon Oakley and Mike Baird from the South Frisco Jazz Band. Tyle, John Gill and Steve Pistorius are the only full-time SLJB members present on this occasion. Clint Baker (leader of the New Orleans Jazz Band), Marty Eggers (freelancer who enhances any gig) and Hal Smith (leader of two or three bands) combine to give the group a pulse that doesn't falter for a moment.

John Gill turned out all of the arrangements except for two by Tyle ("The Pearls" and "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles") and a couple of stocks ("My Maryland" and "Eccentric"). "The Pearls" is a captivating duet by Tyle and Pistorius that leaves one wanting more. On this tune and others throughout the program, Chris uses a Conn metal practice mute of the kind that Oliver frequently employed. You'll recognize it when you hear it. The band sounds great, nice and full, and the soloists are familiar enough with the classic material to dive in head first. It is a fine collection of Oliver-related material played beautifully.

Russ Chase

from the Mississippi Rag, April 1996 (condensed version; for full version click here.)

Subtitled “A Tribute to Joseph ‘King’ Oliver,” this album pays its respects in the best possible way. Not by having the band play reverent replications of Oliver’s classic recordings as others have done, but by presenting music associated with Oliver and his time in a way that is true to the idiom of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band of 1923/24, yet imaginative and fresh. Any thoughts that this is going to be a dry repertory offering are quickly dispelled when the album opener, “Bugle Call Rag,” (with its multitudes of breaks, split choruses and high spirits), comes leaping from the speakers.

 “Bugle Call Rag?” reflects the jazz scholar quizzically. “King Oliver didn’t record that!” True enough, but therein lies one of the clever and appealing things about this album. Leader/cornetist Chris Tyle and trombonist/arranger John Gill came up with a program that presents selections that Oliver probably played on the job but never recorded, selections he recorded that were unreleased, tunes that Oliver recorded later on in his career here rendered in his earlier style, plus numbers that Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band id record that are now given new arrangements.

As with the Creole Jazz Band, most selections here feature lots of improvised ensemble, notably the comfortable mid-tempo “Royal Garden Blues” and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” with very effective use of dynamics (soft, softer, softer still, whisper soft, loud, ecstatically loud) creating musical tension and release. Hearing the material that King Oliver never recorded and especially the stuff that he did that was unreleased (pretty good tunes, too) is interesting, but even if the listener doesn’t give a whit about King Oliver this album stands on its own as an excellent presentation of hot classic jazz, beautifully record (kudos to sound engineer Mike Cogan), and is thus highly recommended.

Ted Des Plantes

from Jazz Journal, June, 1996

This is a worthy effort at recreating, without copying, the spirit and character of Oliver's music, and a great deal of work has gone into the arrangements (mainly John Gill's). Interestingly, the band has chosen mainly either tunes which Oliver recorded back in 1923 for Gennett, but which were never issued ("If You Want My Heart," "That Sweet Something," " When You Leave Me Alone to Pine"), or numbers which the Oliver band very probably played, but never recorded. But there's also a core of familiar Oliver classics.

"Bugle Call Rag" is not an ideal opener; certainly popular in Chicago in Oliver's day, but Oliver would have take it at a more laid-back tempo, I feel, and it's rather a bitty arrangement, broken up by too many run-of-the-mill breaks. Thereafter, from a good "Riverside Blues" onwards, the band settles down nicely, applying an Oliver-styled approach to some unfamiliar material full of melodic charm in the style of the era--e.g., the three 'lost' Oliver recordings, and "Oh! How I Miss You Tonight." " Choo Choo Blues" is also a particularly enjoyable track, well arranged and with some good brass breaks. On more familiar ground, "Jazzin' Babies Blues," "I'm Going Away" and "Canal Street Blues," represent familiar Oliver material, which the band performs with relish. The Pearls is a well-executed duet, in the style of the 1924 Oliver/Morton collaboration on "King Porter Stomp." I struggle to imagine Oliver playing "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," though I suppose he just might have, but this is one of the less convincing tracks, and Baird's woody archaic style clarinet, suspect at times in intonation, is woefully flat on this number.

On the whole however, without coming near the masterful artistry of the great original recordings, these are colourful, interesting and spirited performances, which I enjoyed. The two cornets lead strongly throughout with the right mix of discipline and vigour, and are supported ably in ensemble by clarinet and trombone.

Hugh Rainey

Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man, Stomp Off CD SOS 1311

from Jazz Journal, England

This CD is offered as an homage to Freddie Keppard, the great but under-recorded New Orleans cornet player. The liner notes are well researched and add to the listener's enjoyment of the music. The first ten tunes are associate with Bill Johnson's Creole band period and are played in a "jass-ragtime" style. Chris Tyle, leader of the Silver Leaf Jazz Band, is a powerful cornet player who is extensively featured leading the melody line. Due to the ensemble arrangements the other front line instrumentalists do not make any significant contribution to the overall jazz qualities of the music.

When the band reverts to a "traditional" line up to honor the Jazz Cardinals (the band that Keppard formed for his Paramount recordings), it sounds more at ease with the material. On "Hot Tamale Man," Tyle's hot cornet is better appreciated against the contrasting backcloth of Orange Kellin's sweet clarinet. On "My Daddy Rocks Me" it is Mike Owen's plaintive wailing that introduces real soul into the number. This tune also features one of Tyle's better vocal efforts. Steve Pistorius on piano catches the ear with an easy, relaxed picking style that produces a bouncy and imaginative solo on "Messin' Around" as well as several interesting but short cameos on other numbers.

Cookie's Gingersnaps is the third group to be honored. The most successful number for this reviewer is the tuneful "Deep Henderson," successfully arranged by Charles "Doc" Cooke for King Oliver. The ensemble playing is crisp and there is sufficient space for the soloists to display their individual talents. One can only admire the single-mindedness of the leader in attempting to produce an accurate homage to Freddie Keppard's horn playing. Such intensity sometimes has the drawback of undervaluing the other musicians whose solos are often tantalizingly short and never get beyond an initial chorus or two before the cornet takes over again. Nevertheless this is a welcome and timely reminder of Keppard's outstanding cornet playing

Peter Sylvester

from The Mississippi Rag, May 1999

This is the third in a series of Chris Tyle's Stomp Off tributes to the great New Orleans cornetists. Tyle has an astonishing knack for emulating the great horn men. Previous honorees were Bunk Johnson (The Smiler) and King Oliver (Sugar Blues). Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man pays tribute to Freddie Keppard (1889-1933), a somewhat less well known but certainly worthy New Orleanian. Keppard grew up in the neighborhood which later was nicknamed "Storyville" and began his career playing in the "tonks" of the area. Tyle wrote the thoroughly researched liner notes to this CD, in which he traces Keppard's career from New Orleans to California to Chicago, where he spend his last years.

The tunes have been grouped with respect to the principal bands of Keppard's career, beginning with bassist Bill Johnson's Creole Band, which he went to California to join in 1914. The first ten cuts listed above are from this period. "Memphis Blues" may well have been played by the Creole Band, and the Silver Leaf Jazz Band recreates the pre-jazz, ragtime band style of the day. "Memphis Blues," for example, is rendered with the calculated angularity characteristic of pre-World War I performances. "Blame It on the Blues," that wonderful rag by Charles L. Cooke (Doc Cook), is taken at a graceful, leisurely temp that invites dancing. "Indianola" is one of those Amer-Ind tunes that were in vogue early in the century, and to my knowledge has not been previously recorded. The Joe Jordan song "Sweetie Dear" was taken at a hell-for-leather tempo by Sidney Bechet in his 1932 Victor session, but SLJB puts the brakes on it, bringing out its appealing melodic elements at a tempo it was no doubt meant to be played.

The second group contains three numbers honoring The Jazz Cardinals, a band Keppard put together for his famous Paramount sessions in the mid-Twenties. "Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man" is an old favorite of Keppard fans. "My Daddy Rocks Me" was popular in Chicago during that era, as was "Messin' Around" (the one written by "Doc" Cook and Johnny St. Cyr).

The last six numbers listed pay homage to Cookie's Gingersnaps, a small band led by "Doc" Cook, featuring Keppard on cornet. Since Cook was on friendly terms with the Coon-Sanders Orchestra of Kansas City and did some arranging for them, Tyle chose a few of these late "Roaring Twenties" arrangements to round out the program. If "Deep Henderson" sounds a bit familiar, that's because King Oliver used Cook's arrangement when he recorded it.

Personnel on the three SLJB releases to date has varied, but three of the musicians have been on each session: cornetist Tyle, of course, pianist Steve Pistorius, and drummer Hal Smith. Rounding out the band for this third session are Orange Kellin, clarinet; Tom Fischer, alto sax; Mike Owen, trombone; and two-thirds of Bo Grumpus - Craig Ventresco, guitar, banjo; and Mary Eggers, string bass. With Pistorius, Smith, and "Bogrum" (two thirds of Bo Grumpus, right?), you're not likely to find a better rhythm section. All three of Tyle's SLJB CDs are among the most replayed in my collection, which ought to tell you something

Bill Mitchell

Great Composers of New Orleans Jazz, Good Time Jazz GTJ CD15005

from The Mississippi Rag, March 1998

When Fantasy, Inc., the largest multi-label conglomerate in jazz, released the silver Leaf Jazz Band’s debut album in 1993, it proudly proclaimed it to be the “First Good Time Jazz Recording in Twenty-Five Years.” That album, Streets and Scenes of New Orleans (GTJ CD15001), featured a spare five-piece personnel consisting of trumpeter Chris Tyle, clarinetist Jacques Gauthe’, trombonist Dave Sager, pianist Tom Roberts, and drummer John Gill, while their second release, recorded only five months later, Jelly’s Last Jam (GTJ CD15002), reflected some substantial changes in the line-up, with Orange Kellin taking over for Gauthe’, Gill switching to trombone, Hal Smith in on drums, and Vince Giordano added on bass. Since that time, two other newly recorded sessions were released, Scott Black’s Hot Horns (GTJ CD15003) and Tim Laughlin’s Blue Orleans (GTJ CD15004), with the present album being the fifth in a new series designed to continue a tradition begun in 1949, when Lester Koenig issued his first 78 on the newly formed Good Time Jazz label. Another precedent being observed in this series is one that dates back to 1956, when Good Time Jazz authorized the recording of a number of New Orleans bands that might otherwise have never received national attention.

In this April 1996 edition of the Silver Leaf band we have Tyle (listed as playing cornet rather than trumpet), trombonist Mike Owen, clarinetist Kellin, pianist Steve Pistorius, guitarist/banjoist Craig Ventresco, bassist Marty Eggers, and Smith on drums and washboard. Trumpeter Duke Heitger is added on King Oliver’s “I Must Have It” and the intriguing final tune “Papa, What You Are Trying to Do to Me I’ve Been Doing It For Years,” while Tom Fischer’s alto sax provides a bonus voice on Sidney Bechet’s “Ghost of the Blues.” If you’re wondering why Gauthe’ wasn’t brought in to play soprano on this track, it is probably because he had his own Bechet project in mind at the time.

Built around the relatively unexplored theme of compositions written by New Orleans-born musicians, this collection includes quite a few rarities, with bassist Simon Marrero’s “Papa’s Got the Jim-Jams” receiving the well-deserved lead position. Premiered on a beautifully recorded 1927 Columbia record by Oscar Celestin’s Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra, it is here reproduced with Tyle assuming the infectious vocal chorus initially performed by Papa Celestin’s drummer, Abby Foster. Both Johnny Dodds’ hymn-based “Weary City” and Spencer Williams’ dance-craze-inspired “Shim-me-sha-wabble” benefit by spirited performances all around, as do Clarence Williams’ and Armand Piron’s “You Can Have It,” Abbie Brunies’ “It Belongs to You,” Johnny DeDroit’s “Number Two Blues,” and Sharkey Bonano’s “Peculiar.”

Now, while most of these tunes should be very familiar to collectors of classic jazz, there are a few more that are here receiving their first public hearing. As was the case when Terry Waldo recorded the then recently discovered Jelly Roll Morton composition, “Exit Gloom,” here we find the recorded debut of three previously unheard vintage tunes and one, ragtime pianist Irwin Leclere’s catchy “Cookie,” which had been recorded only once before, in 1959 by an Edmond Souchon quartet with clarinetist Raymond Burke. Paced midway in the program is “Klondyke Blues,” an obscure tune written by clarinetist Alcide “Yellow” Nunez and recorded for Victor Records by his Louisiana Five in February 1919. The test recording remained unissued and a subsequent version was never undertaken, but the piece is such a quality had Lu Watters and Turk Murphy known it they would surely have included it in their own repertoires. Despite several discographical references to “Ramblin’ Blues” and “Them Ramblin’ Blues,” it would appear that the piece heard here, “Rambling Blues,” a collaborative effort by Nick LaRocca, Larry Shields and singer Al Bernard, is an entirely different song. The Silver Leafers give it a not stomping performance, aided considerably by Smith’s booting drums.

As alluded to above, the final track is the first-time documentation of a 1923 piece credited to Louis Armstrong and Preston Jackson (under his birth name of McDonald). Although Dick Allen’s notes tell us no more that that the tune comes from a lead sheet, sans lyrics, it is know that Jackson was working with Bernie Young’s Creole Jazz Band in Chicago at the same time that Louis was with King Oliver’s group, thus making the partnership highly likely. Modeled in fashion of a medium-tempoed Oliverian stomp, the Silver Leaf performance highlights the second strain for its solos, thus emphasizing its harmonic and structurally similarity to the chords of “Sister Kate,” a tune long known to have been conceived by Louis Armstrong in New Orleans and sold, for a pittance, to the publishing firm of Williams and Piron.

Bill Mitchell