Natural History gets off to a happy start with the members of this collaborative ensemble—saxophonist Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson, trumpeter Mark Rapp, organist/pianist David Ellington and drummer Chris Burroughs—all clapping their hands and cheerfully repeating the album’s title. Everyone in the band except Burroughs has an affiliation with New Orleans having played and/or attended school here. Anderson, of course, remains active on the scene.
Burroughs makes an immediate impression, jumping in with skillful exuberance before the two horns play the memorable melody in unison. The drummer again becomes fully involved in the tune he co-wrote with Anderson. This selection deserves its place as the title cut as it is at once exploratory and boasts a rhythm you can dance to. That makes sense as this group of musicians was inspired to record together after doing a tribute to the great boogaloo master, saxophonist Lou Donaldson at Dizzy’s Club in Lincoln Center.
“Stroke Blues” kicks off the more swinging elements and features the fine organ of Ellington providing a sound reminiscent of when organ trios ruled barrooms across the land. Accenting that mood is Rapp’s muted, lights-down-low trumpet. That aura continues on Anderson’s light-hearted “Rosie Posie,” which finds the saxophonist and trumpeter exchanging friendly bars.
Natural History evolves from a dance groove to toe-tapping swing to the oh-so-slow, laid-back “Dem Dirty Blues.” It moves along organically with a sense of genuine humanity. Warmdaddy, who wrote or co-wrote the material, did, after all, get that handle for a reason.