In addition to influential albums by creative music Chicagoans like saxophonist Anthony Braxton (Three Compositions of New Jazz; For Alto; Four Compositions), The Art Ensemble of Chicago (Live 1972) and Sun Ra, Delmark is a treasure trove of traditional jazz clarinetists. This particular aspect is near and dear to Koester's heart as he remembers Barney Bigard (Bucket's Got a Hole in It), Albert Nicholas (New Orleans-Chicago Connection; Albert's Back in Town), Raymond Burke (Hodes Art) and Volly DeFaut (Up in Volly's Room). Koester recollects: "There was a show on at 10:30 pm in Wichita that used the Capitol International Jazzmen's recording of "Clambake in B Flat" which starts with a (imitates a Bigard solo)...that turned me on to Barney. It was impossible to let Barney Bigard be in Chicago for very long without doing a record and happily, we did work it out. He's a guy who is impeccable. There are no outtakes because of anything he played. However, I'm much fonder of Albert Nicholas...Albert is probably the most underrated clarinetist in the history of music. Even I underrated him at the time... To me as time goes on I am just more and more into Nicholas' playing; ballsy playing...Raymond Burke. I wish we could have done a whole record but he had a plane to catch. Vivian Oswald in the St. Louis Jazz club would speak of Raymond Burke and say, 'He fills his clarinet up with water and then plays it.' He has this hydraulic tone...marvelous and a totally self-effacing guy. Volly Defaut is another marvelous clarinetist although I wouldn't put him in the class with Albert. But he was awfully interesting. A guy who came out of the symphony I believe... Poor guy died before the record came out."
The latest releases from Delmark pleasantly continue the tradition of top quality influential sessions. Malachi Thompson and Africa Brass have just released Blue Jazz that with its big band free bop brassy sound and "Blues for a Saint called Louis Suite" is a panoramic musical triumph. Promised offerings for the coming year include a new session from trombonist Curtis Fuller (Up Jumped Spring), vibraphonist Duane Thamm's Tribute to Hamp, and Morning Song, a new tenor, tuba and drums trio from AACM tenor man Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre. If the past 50 years is any indication, the future is indeed in good hands.