Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Album Review: Tuba Skinny - Magnolia Stroll

Tuba Skinny
Magnolia Stroll
***and1/2 out of *****

The New Orleans traditional jazz collective Tuba Skinny's newest offering, Magnolia Stroll manages to be an ode to the city's history while sounding alive and fresh today. 

A collection of original songs written by members of the band (Craig Flory: clarinet, Shaye Cohn: cornet, piano, Barnabus Jones: trombone, Max Bien-Kahn: resonator guitar and tenor banjo, Greg Sherman: guitar, Erika Lewis: bass drum, vocals, Todd Burdick: sousaphone, upright bass, Robin Rapuzzi: washboard, kit, Jason Lawrence: six string banjo) the group come together to deliver the sonic beignets with tasty jazz sugar on top. 

The upbeat opening "Tricksters Rag" uses a prominent sousaphone to push the rag forward while the slower, more restrained "Chalmette Sunsets" deploys warm horn work. The rumbling percussion, bass and strings mix on a highlight track "Mighty Anchor" which brings in a more string band sound, but also uses Spanish and Caribbean influences creating a strong gumbo of a tune.   

Another highlight offering is the popping "Ida Wobble" which has singing cornets/trumpets/clarinets dancing around percussion, guitars and banjos spectacularly. Each track is really strong in this throw back jazz style though as the perfectly titled title track sashays with lazy blowing and the hip, warbling "Minor Fret" feels like a tune Cab Calloway would thoroughly enjoy. A few of the songs are pleasant, without much ear catching impact, ("Elysian Fields" and "Kickin the Rocks") content to just float along through the summer haze of New Orleans. 

The production is rock solid as each of the instruments sound rich and full even when harkening back to the 1920's with both "Proximity Effect" and "Pyramid Strut", during which flappers would certainly cut a rug dancing the Charleston. The album ends with a few different styles as Lewis gives a vocal punch to the album on the laugh 'til your dead anthem "Six Feet Down" before the sweet "Diamond Dove Song" while closer "Deep Bayou Moan" ends the record on a contemplative piano ballad note.    

These fifteen original tracks from Tuba Skinny could have been written a century ago, but the band produced these new numbers that take inspiration from the classics, spinning a new strut down the New Orleans cracked sidewalks throughout the free flowing Magnolia Stroll
Support the band, buy the album and peep some video below:

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