Talk about being a bit late to the party, I had not heard of the Smoking Time Jazz Club until recently. A regular fixture in the New Orleans jazz scene since its formation, the group recently released their ninth CD, Take Your Tune And Fly, making me regret having missed their earlier sets.

The current version of the band is comprised of trumpeter Jack Pritchett, trombonist Russell Ramirez, Byron Asher on clarinet and tenor, Joe Goldberg switching between clarinet, alto and soprano, either Molly Reeves or Brett Gardner on guitar, banjoist Joseph Faison, bassist John Joyce, drummer Mike Voelker, and singer Sarah Peterson.

Ms. Peterson’s singing is a welcome part of the band for her vocals tend to be brief but fit very well into the group’s vintage sound. The soloists are all excellent and are in the 1920s/30s style, but the ensembles are particularly colorful and give the band its own musical personality. Highlights include such songs as King Oliver’s rarely-played “Stingaree Blues,” “Kansas City Man Blues,” “Tight Like That,” “Temptation Rag,” and a rousing “Weary Blues.”
This CD is great fun that makes me wish I was in New Orleans, catching the Smoking Time Jazz Club at their regular gigs at the Maison and the Spotted Cat.

- Scott Yanow 2018

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