Shotgun Jazz Band, Don’t Give Up the Ship (Independent)

Shotgun Jazz Band, Don't Give Up the Ship, album cover, OffBeat Magazine, March 2014

Something about the Shotgun Jazz Band’s Don’t Give Up The Ship elevates it above the typical traditional New Orleans jazz recording. First of all, with a couple of exceptions, the band expands the song repertoire. There’s no “Saints” or “Bill Bailey” or any other of the songs that have been done to death by assorted half-assed Dixieland bands. They play tunes that are either originals or rarely performed such as “Old Man Mose” and “Girl You Better Use Your Head.” Also, this record has an energy and edge to it. The Shotgun Jazz Band stomps and swings with vigor. When they play these songs, it sounds like their life depends on it, and that’s the way the musicians who first wrote these tunes and played them in a different time (but the same place) played them. They weren’t just songs; they were a way of life, and that’s how the Shotgun Jazz Band does them. They even play an old warhorse like “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” as if it is the story of their existence. Marla Dixon sings and groans the lyrics like they could be her final statement. Songs like “Weed Smokers’ Dream” and “When You And I Were Young, Maggie” weave stories in the lyrical lines of the horns and consistent beat of the banjo. For listeners of trad jazz who want to hear it as it sounds when it really matters to the people who play it, don’t give up the ship. The Shotgun Jazz Band has a record for you.