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
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.