The Latest From Delmark
Reviews By Willard Manus

Chicago-based Delmark Records continues to swim against the tide. At a time when so many independent labels specializing in blues and jazz have gone under, Delmark keeps on truckin', thanks to its shrewd policy of mixing new releases with repackaged oldies plucked from its Fort Knox-like backlist.

Here is a typical batch of current Delmark offerings.

GARVIN BUSHELL AND FRIENDS--ONE STEADY ROLL. Originally recorded in California on May 3, 1982, this CD showcases the many gifts of jazz giant Bushell, whose career on clarinet (and other wind instruments) spanned most of the 20th century and included stints with Mamie Smith, Ethel Waters, Fats Waller, Fletcher Henderson, Cab Calloway, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, among others.

The classically-trained Bushell was such a gifted and adaptable musician that he could play just about any kind of jazz there was--dixieland, boogie-woogie, swing, bop, you name it. On ONE STEADY ROLL he teams up with soprano sax whiz Richard Hadlock (a former student of his), pianist Ray Skjelbred, bassist Stu Wilson, drummer John Markham, cornettist Leon Oakley and vocalist Barbara Lashley to deliver some prime examples of unfussy, straight-ahead jazz. The eleven cuts include such familiar tunes as

Memories of You, I'm Getting Sentimental Over You and I Got It Bad, but they are played (and, in three instances, sung) with such warmth, vitality and freshness that my toe kept tapping the whole time. And as soon as the CD came to an end, I immediately hit the play button again.

Red Holloway is another jazz elder statesman. Now in his 80s, his career dates back to 1943 when he broke in with Eugene Wright's band. In 1946 he served as bandmaster for the US 5th Army Band, from which group he transitioned to Chicago where he played sax for Roosevelt Sykes and other bluesmen. He kept his jazz chops up by sitting in with the likes of Billie Holiday, Sonny Rollins, George Benson and Lionel Hampton, followed by a longtime gig at the Parisian Room and European tours with Sonny Stitt, with whom he shared many a spirited cutting session.

Now Holloway has recorded his fourth album with Delmark (but his first as bandleader)--RED HOLLOWAY, GO RED GO! Recorded at Riverside studio in Chicago in 2008, Holloway plays tenor and alto sax on nine cuts, sounding amazingly young and virile throughout as he works his way through such standards as Bag's Groove,Love Walked In, Deep Purple and Go Red Go! (written for him by Arnett Cobb).

Holloway's backup musicians include B3 maven Chris Foreman, drummer Greg Rockingham (both from Deep Blue Organ Trio) and guitarist Henry Johnson. These cats swing like mad together and deserve to be heard again as a unit. Do you copy that, Delmark?

ROB MAZUREK--SOUND IS is a complete departure from either of the above albums, an avant-garde work that is truly far out and experimental. Mazurek started out as a hard-bop trumpet player but expanded his musical range and interests over the years, learning not only to play synthesizer and piano but to compose music that broke all kinds of boundaries and restrictions.

In his debut record (with this quintet), Mazurek plays around with sound and time on all fourteen cuts (hence the CD's subtitle). Working with four kindred musical souls (John Herndon, drums; Matthew Lux, bass guitar; Josh Abrams, piano; Jason Adasiewicz, vibraphone), Mazurek comes up with some astounding tunes and poems. His own description sums it all up best: "SOUND IS..hi pitch, low pitch, middle pitch, overtones of various instruments, loud, soft, centered, non-centered, interpretive color projections, light, non-light, grey areas, beats, non-beats, breathing, rhythm, non-rhythm, the rhythm of non-rhythm, traditional harmony, synthetic (original) harmony, melody, stacked sound, single sound, computer sound, ringing sound, acoustic sound, and the voice and spirit of a young child."