Kickin' It With Bix


Hooray for Bix!, a tribute to cornet player Bix Beiderbecke, one of the first jazz individualists, comes from the gleeful heart of guitarist, vocalist and bandleader Marty Grosz. Hooray travels through two different time warps to today's listeners. It was recorded (tellingly, for Good Time Jazz) around Christmastime 1957, more than half a century ago -- for some reason in Yellow Springs, Ohio -- in homage to the swinging Dixieland style that dominated jazz and popular music several decades before that.

The supporting Honoria Causa Jazz Band featured cornet player Carl Halen, a third-generation Bix devotee like Grosz and who smoked throughout "My Pet" with a second cornet plus clarinets. In "Oh, Miss Hannah," the tones of the brass and reeds, and especially the trombone solo, culminate in the joyful, moaning cacophony of a New Orleans marching band blues. "Wa-Da-Da (Everybody's Doin' It Now)" also busts its colorful buttons with the uncomplicated joy of the prototype Dixieland ensemble jam.

Jazz has sorely missed the sense of humor evident in other tunes, and I can guarantee that at least one vocal vamp or hot and sweet instrumental lick someplace on Hooray will coax out your smile. "Clementine" shifts into a sunny Latin passage that brings out Dixieland's Spanish tinge and Grosz winks and mugs through his vocal for the cheery closer "Because My Baby Don't Mean Maybe Now" with a rascal's charm, or maybe the mere title of "For No Reason At All In 'C'."

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    Marty Grosz And His Honoris Causa Jazz ...