It’s not too much of a stretch to say that most people reading this aren’t familiar with Ole “Fessor” Lindgreen. That the Danish trombonist/vocalist named this fine album For Bunchy will catch the eye of friends and fans of the late Bernard “Bunchy” Johnson, a New Orleans drummer who laid down solid rhythms both at home and abroad.
Immediately upon listening to the CD, it is apparent that Lindgreen, who cut his teeth on New Orleans traditional jazz styles, loves music. He and his next generation of Danish, more modern jazz artists bring a sense of adventure, humor, fun and swing to a diverse program of tunes that are altogether refreshing.
Yes, these guys know how to play the classics straight up as heard on Sam Morgan’s “Bogalusa Strut,” complete with some soulful blowin’ by the leader. However, when Lindgreen pens his own “Barbarin Stomp” the band gives the tune an old school, big band rhythm and blues flavor. It’s a twist, as are many of the delightful, unexpected musical detours on the album.
To find Leadbelly’s “When the Boys Were Out on the Western Plains” (one might recognize it for its lyrics “Come a cow cow yicky…”) in the repertoire is itself a surprise. To hear it done in a hip, exciting, modern style is revolutionary. Everyone is on here with smart soloing by the pianist who continually moves the song forward and introduces a Latin tinge. Lindgreen, who also offers some sincerely delivered vocals on the album, steps up and displays influences ranging from ‘bone men Kid Ory to Roswell Rudd (as he writes in the disc’s comprehensive liner notes).
The most moving selection on the record is Lindgreen’s “For Bunchy.” It’s almost a dirge, but instead it’s played in waltz time. The clarinet truly cries yet with the control of a grieving relation trying not to upset the other mourners. The piano brings further comfort.
For Bunchy pays tribute to the New Orleans drummer in the best way possible, a totally musical endeavor that’s delivered with love.