Dukes Of Dixieland/ Oak Ridge Boys – When Country Meets Dixie – Leisure Music L1088, 37:22 [2/28/2012] ****:
(Kevin Clark – trumpet; Ben Smith – trombone; Scott Obenschain – piano; Ryan Burrage – clarinet, saxophone; Alan Broome – bass; JJ Juliano (UFIP) – drums; David Spires – steel guitar; featuring Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterbon…The Oaks)
Perhaps the most interesting facet of the South is its remarkable contribution to American music. From the Delta blues of Robert Johnson to the groundbreaking country/western of Hank Williams, the fabric of the Southern culture has permeated the culture. Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans-based sound is considered by many to be the birthplace of American jazz. The emergence of Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys (with the recently departed Earl Scruggs) is the starting point for modern country. For many, country and Dixieland are the two most recognizable music genres in the U.S.A. Their common thread is a link to gospel music.
Not surprisingly, there have been crossover projects with jazz and country artists. The latest involves the Dukes Of Dixieland (a New Orleans tradition and featured on the first stereodisc in 1957) with a variety of guest singers, most notably the Oak Ridge Boys (whose present lineup consists of lead Duane Allen, tenor; Joe Bonsall, baritone; William Lee Golden and bass Richard Sterbon). They are the most renowned country gospel-singing group of all time. For over sixty years, their legacy has included numerous country awards and a Grammy. This unusual alchemy of brassy Dixieland and pure country seemed to be a natural fit.
When Country Meets Dixieland features twelve tracks, including four with the Oak Ridge Boys. A brisk version of their early hit “Bobby Sue” is a blast with an old fashioned “Professor Longhair” vibe, featuring a muscular sax and classic barbershop harmony. Another reinvented classic is “Elvira” with “second line” tempo and nimble key modulations. Two spiritual numbers, “Little Talk With Jesus” and “Unclouded Day” (with rumbling bass Sterbon) manage to combine Dixieland swing and old time gospel.
There are several highlights of this country/dixie convergence. Veteran performer Wesley Probst contributes two strong cuts, an upbeat hilarious cover of Ernest Tubb’s “Nails In My Coffin” and a strutting version of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Fatback Louisiana”. Both country and jazz fans will enjoy these. Many of the songs combine horn charts with pedal steel riffs. The sole female lead vocalist, Callaway McCord, shakes things up with an outstanding medley. Her forceful vocals energize Hank William’s “Jambalaya”, Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’” and Rockin’ Sidney’s “Don’t Mess With My Toot Toot.”
Lathan Moore (and his smooth country baritone) contribute three vocals. A Sunday church swing cover of “A Closer Walk With Thee” (with a deft clarinet solo by Ryan Burrage) captures the heartfelt emotion of gospel. “Are You From Dixie?” could be a Saturday night broadcast at the Old Opry. The Dukes fit their brassy accents into every song with precision.
This is unexpected fun!
TrackList: That’s What I Like About The South; Are You From Dixie?; Little Talk With Jesus; Fatback Louisiana; Back In New Orleans; Closer Walk With Thee; Bobby Sue; Jambalaya/I’m Walkin’/Don’t Mess With MyToot Toot; Nails In My Coffin; Unclouded Day; Can’t Fight The Moonlight; Elvira
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