This record features a type of music that is rarely played or recorded in this day and age. It’s the music of mature but not elderly African-Americans that was played in bars and joints like the Joy Tavern and the Dew Drop Inn and Mason’s. It’s rhythm and blues in a jazz vein played by the unsung legends of New Orleans music who practically invented the form. Pianist Ed Frank leads the band. Frank played this music his whole life after starting in the J&M studio band backing up the hits that made New Orleans famous in the 1950s. Drummer June Gardner was Sam Cooke’s choice for the trap set in the 1960s and he went on to have one of the best trad jazz bands in the city. Frank Fields on bass also was in the J&M band and had a long career with R&B bands and Preservation Hall. Clarence Ford played tenor with everyone but was most famous for his work with Fats Domino. All of the players here perform many standards, from “Stardust” to “High Heel Sneakers,” including New Orleans classics such as “Feels So Good,” I Hear You Knocking/I’m In Love Again,” and “You Are My Sunshine.” This was the music of Saturday night set-ups and dancing cheek to cheek before modern rhythm and blues and hip-hop supplanted this from most peoples’ weekend preferences.
And if you venture into the neighborhoods this weekend, you would have to look hard, but you could find a band playing this music for an appreciative and discerning audience. If not, grab your pint of Crown Royal or Seagrams, a mixer, and a bowl of ice; turn this record up; and dance the night away like the days of yore.