Drummer Joe Lastie, a member of New Orleans musical Lastie family who perhaps remains most recognized for his years with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, steps out as leader of his New Orleans Sound on Jazz Corner of the World. The first 10 cuts of the album represent chestnuts from the traditional jazz songbook played straight-up by guys who obviously love the music they’ve been performing for decades.
It opens with the toe-tapper “Back Home in Indiana,” featuring clarinetist Louis Ford, whose perfect execution and beautiful tone never fail to impress. No squeaking here, even when he goes up for the highest notes. Trombonist Jerome Jones is up next, backed by Richard Moten’s walking bass while Lastie keeps the song swinging. Trumpeter Kid Merv—who sings on several cuts—takes his turn, followed by pianist Rickie Monie, who freshens the tune with his more modern style.
The ensemble is at its happiest when working on uptempo numbers like “Ice Cream,” which kicks into the spirit with Lastie’s drums. He and Calvin Johnson do a rarely heard drum/vocal duet on the lively number. Johnson takes the reedman role, performing on soprano saxophone with Steve Walker coming in on trombone. “Come on, Uncle Joe, let’s swing out,” encourages Johnson. Some fine bass playing here too.
The last cut, “New Orleans in Me,” a tune penned by Lastie soon after Katrina, takes an entirely different stylistic route with mostly a different cast of characters. It’s got a street beat that’s a blend of brass band—complete with the sousaphones of Arian Macklin and Ben Jaffe, trumpeter Mark Braud, and saxophonists Clint Maedgen and Roger Lewis—and Mardi Gras Indians influences. At the center is the voice of Big Chief David Montana who, in song, tells the story of the hurricane’s repercussion with the ensemble completing the call and response. “You can take me out of New Orleans, but you can’t take New Orleans outta me…”