Mississippi Swamp Dogs @ Spice of Life
Jeff Williams (tmb/vcl); Titch Walker (tpt);Simon Picton (gtr/vcl); Manuel Alvarez (bs gtr); Paul Miller keyboards and vcls; Jono Lee (dms).
(Review by Lance)
Outside they were frying eggs on the pavement, in the basement bar of the Spice – that most ambient of London jazz venues – the Swamp Dogs were cooking Creole Gumbo Chicken a la Jaco.
This is modern day New Orleans although without clarinet. Mercifully, also sans banjo.
From the opening I’m Going Back to New Orleans we knew we were in for a treat. Williams blows a robust, almost ribald trombone that shouts its message at you. Subtlety doesn’t live here – it would be as out of place as a nun in a bordello. Pianist Miller took the vocal. Bourbon St. Parade was done as a rhumba and St James’ Infirmary as a samba. No slaves to tradition are these guys, finishing off the latter number with the intro to Night in Tunisia!
Walker blistered on trumpet; fat toned wailing choruses that were hotter than the street temperature. Alvarez barbecued the aforementioned Chicken and Miller rocked the 88 on Route 66. Guitarist Picton played and sang as if he’d been born on the corner of Fourth and Vine although in fact he’s frae Dundee.
Blue Moon was played over an infectious Ska/Reggae rhythm laid down by Jono Lee. There was more, much more. Williams’ vocals, as boisterous as his tromboning, the two horns locked together in glorious harmony, a rhythm section as loose as it was tight when it had to be tight.
Once again The Spice came up trumps – next time you’re in town check it out – you won’t be disappointed.