It Ain't Over
Reviews by Willard Manus

Delmark, the Chicago-based independent jazz and blues record company, recently celebrated its 55th anniversary. That's a miraculous achievement for a small company. Founded and still run by Bob Koester, Delmark not only has a large retail outlet in East Chicago, the Jazz Record Mart, but continues to release both new and old (mostly remastered) material. Recently the company threw a half-century birthday bash for itself at Buddy Guy's Legends; the wang dang doodle featured the likes of Zora Young, Shirley Johnson and Lurie Bell. Joined by other Delmark stalwarts, they were recorded live at the time. Now Delmark has released a CD--IT AIN'T OVER!--DELMARK CELEBRATES 55 YEARS OF BLUES--which captures all of the splendid music the gang played that night.

I was blown away by Anderson's DVD performance. For a man in his eighth decade, he plays with astounding vigor, stamina and invention. Long regarded as the king of free jazz, he shows why he deserves that accolade on each of the DVD's four compositions (the shortest of which runs 14.13).
Though Anderson is the leader of his sextet, he is prodded, challenged and (occasionally) topped by Jordan, who was born in New Orleans in 1935. Both men are longtime friends and collaborators, which is undoubtedly why they play with such remarkable chemistry. Whether soloing, experimenting in counterpoint or joining forces on dual solos, these two senior citizens manage to make a helluva lot of startling and spellbinding music.
Backing them are Jeff Parker on guitar; Harrison Bankhead, bass; Chad Taylor, drums; and the aforementioned Grimes on bass.
Sadly, Fred Anderson died earlier this summer. He will be sorely missed, but at least we have this last Delmark release to help remember him by.
Other recent Delmark Cds include ARAM SHELTON'S FAST CITIZENS, MEMPHIS NIGHTHAWKS and BOOGIE WOOGIE KINGS. These titles show the eclectic nature of the company. FAST CITIZENS is a sextet formed in 2002 by sax-player Keefe Jackson; its first Delmark CD was 2006's Ready Everyday. The band decided upon rotating leadership, which is why clarinetist Shelton is featured this time around (he wrote five of the disc's nine tunes). Once again free jazz dominates but in a virtuosic and compelling way.
MEMPHIS NIGHTHAWKS is a reissue of a 1970s album recorded by a traditional jazz band led by reedman Ron Dewar and trumpeter Steve Jensen. They make such venerable old tunes as Jazz Lips and Tishomingo Blues sound fresh and vital. The Bix-like Jensen, DeWar on C-melody sax and Dave Feinman on bass sax make gorgeous music together. The anthology BOOGIE WOOGIE MASTERS comes out of the vaults of Euphonic Records, which Delmark bought out last year. The CD features the piano wizardry of Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, Clarence Lofton, Meade Lux Lewis, Henry Brown and Speckled Red.