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Panorama Jazz Band

17 Days


Like the city on whose streets it marches and dances — particularly during the busiest days of Carnival (Krewe du Vieux through Fat Tuesday) referred to in the title of its new album — the Panorama Jazz Band brings together many strains of music. On this album, all are presented as joyous dance music in songs ranging from the rock-steady rhythms of "Mun-Dun-Gu" to the bright African melodies and happy momentum of "Good News." The band puts a propelling beat in its cover of the dirge "Lonely Woman" by avant-garde pioneer Ornette Coleman (who spent some formative time here in the 1940s). Energetic rhythms are driven by powerhouses Jon Gross on sousaphone, the unrelenting Boyanna Trayanova on snare drum, Gregg Mervine on bass drum, and the band's secret weapon: Dan Oestreicher on baritone saxophone. Panorama mixes it up by including the terrific Eastern European tracks "Goldenshteyn Hora" and "Happy Nign" among the marching and second-line songs. One great achievement of this collection is how Panorama Jazz Band shows the similarities between genres that, on the surface, seem very different. When the band segues from the Serbian "Nikolic Cocek" into Sidney Bechet's "Ti Ralph," it seems obvious the two composers, although living worlds apart, drew from very similar wells. Panorama makes sure differences don't get in the way, and it exemplifies how New Orleans culture melds diverse elements in a wild street shuffle. — David Kunian


Carl LeBlanc

A Tribute to Justin Adams: Justin Case


Carl LeBlanc's Tribute to Justin Adams: Justin Case is a fine piece of work that is simple but swinging. It was recorded in 1994 but not released until 2010. Justin Adams (1923-1991) was one of the most versatile and influential guitar players in New Orleans' history. He played in the J&M studio band and alongside Fats Domino, Little Richard, Charles Brown and the Adams Brothers Band. On this album, LeBlanc honors Adams' versatility by showcasing his own. LeBlanc plays great, clean jazz lines on "Plarine Days" and pretty melodies interspersed with chords on Duke Ellington's "I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart." He turns Sidney Bechet's "Petit Fleur" into a mysterious habanera lament in the style of "St. Louis Blues." His voice has a wonderful down-to-earth vibe and his singing is heartfelt. He does an expository blues tune about music that led to his appreciation of Adams. LeBlanc's band is tight but not uptight. It includes well-known musicians like Nicholas Payton and George French as well as unsung players Chris Severin and the late Fred Kemp and Bernard "Bunchy" Johnson. Wardell Quezerque's horn arrangements are punchy or languid in just the right places. This recording is a good example of music a listener might hear at a jazz club in New Orleans on any given night, and a fine tribute to an almost-forgotten New Orleans music treasure. — Kunian

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