THE BUCK CREEK JAZZ BAND, one of the best traditional jazz bands in the country, has reached a level of acclaim that affords it an unusual degree of freedom on "Vintage 1984," its fourth and finest LP.
The material is boldly refreshing, if only because it entirely overlooks the jazz warhorses that virtually every trad band trots out in concert. Instead, the BCJB's considerable talents are lavished on far more intriguing tunes, several of them rescued from obscurity. "Funny Fumble," a 1930 ditty recorded by Harry Dial's Blusicians, for instance, proves to be a distinctive showcase for two of the BCJB's most appealing assets: John Skillman's fluid clarinet and Frank Mesich's earthy trombone.
Somewhat more familiar tunes, such as Clarence Williams' "Gulf Coast Blues" and the Sidney Bechet vehicle "Dans le Rues d'Antibes," are also enlivened by solos of uncommon color and vitality. But the individual statements, no matter how striking, never obscure the fact that the BCJB is first and foremost a cohesive sextet. For proof of that, listen to the entire ensemble clicking as one on "Gin House Stomp" or King Oliver's "Sweet Mumtaz." Or, better yet, go hear the BCJB in concert.
BUCK CREEK JAZZ BAND -- "Vintage 1984" (Buck Creek 104); appearing Sunday at the Springfield Hilton.