6.I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
7.What a Friend We Have in Jesus
9.Painting the Town Red
11.Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You
12.Too Late (To Ask Forgiveness)
14.Royal Garden Blues
Personnel: Graham Hughes (trombone).
Recording information: 05/31/2004.
Usually when one acquires a Dixieland or trad jazz-style recording a decade or two before the new millennium, the musicians tend to be veterans at least in their forties, if not their sixties. British cornetist Alan Beechey's Bright Stars of Jazz is a happy exception, for most of the players are in their twenties or early thirties, with Beechey still just 29. More impressive than their youth is that the septet sounds very much like one of Eddie Condon's freewheeling Chicago jazz bands of the 1940s or '50s. Beechey does an expert Wild Bill Davison imitation on his feature "Blue & Broken Hearted," and sounds a bit like Billy Butterfield in other spots. Clarinetist Richie Howard ranges from Edmond Hall to Joe Marsala, trombonist Graham Hughes recalls Lou McGarity, and the four-piece rhythm section always swings happily. Julie McKee contributes five likable vocals and Beechey sings "Too Late to Ask Forgiveness." Most of the tunes are either Dixieland warhorses or swing standards. One could criticize the Bright Stars for not yet developing their own voices, but give them time. On this album, their renditions of such tunes as "It's Been So Long," "Sensation Rag," "Christopher Columbus," and "Royal Garden Blues" contain plenty of sparks and help keep the legacy of Eddie Condon's "Americondon" jazz alive. ~ Scott Yanow