Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man, Stomp Off CD SOS 1311

from Jazz Journal, England

This CD is offered as an homage to Freddie Keppard, the great but under-recorded New Orleans cornet player. The liner notes are well researched and add to the listener's enjoyment of the music. The first ten tunes are associate with Bill Johnson's Creole band period and are played in a "jass-ragtime" style. Chris Tyle, leader of the Silver Leaf Jazz Band, is a powerful cornet player who is extensively featured leading the melody line. Due to the ensemble arrangements the other front line instrumentalists do not make any significant contribution to the overall jazz qualities of the music.

When the band reverts to a "traditional" line up to honor the Jazz Cardinals (the band that Keppard formed for his Paramount recordings), it sounds more at ease with the material. On "Hot Tamale Man," Tyle's hot cornet is better appreciated against the contrasting backcloth of Orange Kellin's sweet clarinet. On "My Daddy Rocks Me" it is Mike Owen's plaintive wailing that introduces real soul into the number. This tune also features one of Tyle's better vocal efforts. Steve Pistorius on piano catches the ear with an easy, relaxed picking style that produces a bouncy and imaginative solo on "Messin' Around" as well as several interesting but short cameos on other numbers.

Cookie's Gingersnaps is the third group to be honored. The most successful number for this reviewer is the tuneful "Deep Henderson," successfully arranged by Charles "Doc" Cooke for King Oliver. The ensemble playing is crisp and there is sufficient space for the soloists to display their individual talents. One can only admire the single-mindedness of the leader in attempting to produce an accurate homage to Freddie Keppard's horn playing. Such intensity sometimes has the drawback of undervaluing the other musicians whose solos are often tantalizingly short and never get beyond an initial chorus or two before the cornet takes over again. Nevertheless this is a welcome and timely reminder of Keppard's outstanding cornet playing

Peter Sylvester

from The Mississippi Rag, May 1999

This is the third in a series of Chris Tyle's Stomp Off tributes to the great New Orleans cornetists. Tyle has an astonishing knack for emulating the great horn men. Previous honorees were Bunk Johnson (The Smiler) and King Oliver (Sugar Blues). Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man pays tribute to Freddie Keppard (1889-1933), a somewhat less well known but certainly worthy New Orleanian. Keppard grew up in the neighborhood which later was nicknamed "Storyville" and began his career playing in the "tonks" of the area. Tyle wrote the thoroughly researched liner notes to this CD, in which he traces Keppard's career from New Orleans to California to Chicago, where he spend his last years.

The tunes have been grouped with respect to the principal bands of Keppard's career, beginning with bassist Bill Johnson's Creole Band, which he went to California to join in 1914. The first ten cuts listed above are from this period. "Memphis Blues" may well have been played by the Creole Band, and the Silver Leaf Jazz Band recreates the pre-jazz, ragtime band style of the day. "Memphis Blues," for example, is rendered with the calculated angularity characteristic of pre-World War I performances. "Blame It on the Blues," that wonderful rag by Charles L. Cooke (Doc Cook), is taken at a graceful, leisurely temp that invites dancing. "Indianola" is one of those Amer-Ind tunes that were in vogue early in the century, and to my knowledge has not been previously recorded. The Joe Jordan song "Sweetie Dear" was taken at a hell-for-leather tempo by Sidney Bechet in his 1932 Victor session, but SLJB puts the brakes on it, bringing out its appealing melodic elements at a tempo it was no doubt meant to be played.

The second group contains three numbers honoring The Jazz Cardinals, a band Keppard put together for his famous Paramount sessions in the mid-Twenties. "Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man" is an old favorite of Keppard fans. "My Daddy Rocks Me" was popular in Chicago during that era, as was "Messin' Around" (the one written by "Doc" Cook and Johnny St. Cyr).

The last six numbers listed pay homage to Cookie's Gingersnaps, a small band led by "Doc" Cook, featuring Keppard on cornet. Since Cook was on friendly terms with the Coon-Sanders Orchestra of Kansas City and did some arranging for them, Tyle chose a few of these late "Roaring Twenties" arrangements to round out the program. If "Deep Henderson" sounds a bit familiar, that's because King Oliver used Cook's arrangement when he recorded it.

Personnel on the three SLJB releases to date has varied, but three of the musicians have been on each session: cornetist Tyle, of course, pianist Steve Pistorius, and drummer Hal Smith. Rounding out the band for this third session are Orange Kellin, clarinet; Tom Fischer, alto sax; Mike Owen, trombone; and two-thirds of Bo Grumpus - Craig Ventresco, guitar, banjo; and Mary Eggers, string bass. With Pistorius, Smith, and "Bogrum" (two thirds of Bo Grumpus, right?), you're not likely to find a better rhythm section. All three of Tyle's SLJB CDs are among the most replayed in my collection, which ought to tell you something

Bill Mitchell


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