The Fat Babies: Chicago Hot (2013)
What goes around comes around and time stands still in the future. The Fat Babies shows that, playing tunes from the '20s and '30s with exemplary flair. In this group, nostalgia turns out to be downright delicious.
The septet is mellifluous as it unveils the heat and fervor of ragtime in a confluence that packs a great deal of punch. Its enthusiasm cannot be denied but it is its undoubted skill at parlaying the music into a living, breathing experience that makes the experience memorable.
The good feel is enhanced by the arrangements. Sure, the preordained go-around by the musicians is present, but counterpoint and complement play an integral role. On the hot, roaring "Snake Rag," the trombone of Dave Bock not only bounces of the other brass but is also intuitive to their progression. The ensemble is lithe and agile fuelled by the cornet and sax whose undulating lines mesmerize.
Paul Asaro introduces quite a different mood on "Liza (All The Clouds'll Roll Away)." The Gershwin composition finds its nook in his spare piano work before he takes an angular turn into the upbeat. His is now a dazzling display of rolling melodicism pushed by the bass of Beau Sample and the drums of Alex Hallwho, in tandem, add zippy rhythmic motifs.
"Willow Tree" harbors the blues in jumpy, rolling piano lines that are punctuated by firm chords and then in the broad phrasing of John Otto on tenor saxophone, with Bock coming in to add a spectrum of color to complete a tantalizing canvas.
When The Fat Babies leaves with "Stomp Off, Let's Go" in a dazzling array of animated sound , it has marked its impress on the anvil of time.
Track Listing: Snake Rag; London Cafe Blues; San; Alexander's Ragtime Band; I Surrender; Dardanella; Black Snake Blues; Here Comes The Hot Tamale Man; Froggie Moore; Willow Tree; Weary Blues; Liza (All The Clouds'll Roll Away); Please; Susie; Tight Like This; Stomp Off, Let's Go.
Personnel: Beau Sample: string bass; Andy Schumm: cornet; John Otto: clarinet, saxophones; Dave Block: trombone; Paul Asaro: piano; Jake Sanders: tenor banjo; Alex Hall: drums; Mike Walbridge: tuba.
Record Label: Delmark Records