“It started a reaction,” trumpeter Leroy Jones once said of the Fairview Baptist Church Brass Band, which was established by Danny Barker in 1970 and introduced so many youngsters to New Orleans jazz. “Until the Fairview no kids were interested in keeping the traditional alive.”
Jones, who at age 13 was the Fairview’s first inductee, celebrates this influential band as well as the spin off Hurricane Brass Band from which many members of the famous Dirty Dozen Brass Band emerged. The tunes are those that are essential to the brass band songbook—“Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” “Lord, Lord, Lord” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Undoubtedly, they were among the first songs that Barker taught the fledgling musicians in the Fairview.
The quality of the musicianship and Jones’ fresh, smart arrangements brighten these old, deeply-rooted tunes. “Lily of the Valley” steps with renewed vigor initially generated by the dynamite percussive team of snare drummer Kerry “Fat Man” Hunter and bass man Cayetano “Tanio” Hingle while sousaphonist Rob Espino holds down the bottom. Throughout the disc, the ensemble work of the frontline—Jones, trombonist Craig Klein and saxophonist/clarinetist Alonzo Bowens—rings with clarity, precision and beautiful harmony. (Trombonist Katja Toivola also steps in for one number.) These talented musicians know what they’re doin’ and enrich each tune with inspired solos. Jones, whose pen is as mighty as his trumpet, adds an original number to the program, a slow dirge dubbed “Louie’s Lamentation.” His trumpet slurs, moans, and beckons Louis Armstrong on this very strong, though regrettably too short number. Admittedly, while checking out the song list one might conclude that Memories is just another rehash of well-known selections. On this crisply executed and recorded album, Jones and his gifted crew prove that in the hands of the right musicians, these tunes can still kick.