This is the third record in as many years from Tuba Skinny, one of the more interesting members of trad jazz’s younger generation. The group is a frequent sight on Royal Street, performing their straightforward but personalized brand of New Orleans jazz. There’s nothing flashy in Tuba Skinny’s approach, but their attention to detail makes Garbage Man a compelling listen. Erika Lewis’ singing is potent but restrained; Shaye Cohn’s cornet solos have an understated elegance. Tuba Skinny does a lot with not too many notes.
The band claims to take its listeners “back in time,” and there’s something to that beyond the obvious old-timeyness of the genre. Maybe it’s the reverberance of the recording, which conjures a smoke-filled bar or a dank alley. Or maybe it’s Robin Rapuzzi’s washboard, clicking along behind Kiowa Wells’ guitar. The group specializes in the dreamy, mournful ballad brand of traditional jazz, and on tunes like “Broken Hearted Blues” or “Nobody’s Blues but Mine,” the wailing brass and Erika Lewis’ plaintive singing conjure up a perfect picture of melancholy. Those same qualities don’t always translate as well on the faster tunes, notwithstanding a rollicking rendition of “Some of These Days”, complete with killer washboard solo.