Part 1: A Second Line Mambo
"New Orleans Mambo"
James Rivers Quartet, The Dallas Sessions, Spindletop, 1985
Back in the early 1980's, I used to often see New Orleans multi-reed man, James Rivers, and his band play at Tyler's Beer Garden in the Uptown area. Tyler's had outstanding live music, with a lot of jazz, great raw oysters, and certainly some good beer. Also playing Tyler's regularly were Rivers' usual keyboard player, David Torkanowsky, and another fine pianist, Mike Pellera. They used to put two pianos up on stage and do these incredible "dueling pianos" inprov gigs, which I was also fortunate enough to catch several times. Mike Pellera wrote today's featured track; and David Torkanowsky plays piano on it and produced the album.
Although it was recorded in Dallas (thus its title), this entire record is thoroughly grounded in the Home of the Groove, featuring esteemed drummer Johnny Vidacovich, bassist James Singleton on some tracks, George French on vocal and bass on others, and, of course, Mr. Rivers on saxes, flute and bagpipes (!). The core rhythm section of Torkanowsky, Singleton, and Vidacovich went on to form NOLA's premier jazz group, Astral Project, with guitarist Steve Masakowski and saxophonist Tony Dagradi. A selection of their prodigious work can be heard on that outstanding web site link. Rivers, who made instrumental singles in the '60's and early 70's and played on the road with some of the greats, has also worked on soundtracks for several Clint Eastwood movies and released a few CDs.
I was in the mood for "New Orleans Mambo" today with its upbeat groove carried along by Vidacovich's funky street parade rhythms (aka "second line") and fine soloing by Rivers and Torkanowsky. Hope you enjoy it.
By the way, this is the first of a three part instrumental series for the coming week. Stay tuned, as we get funkier still with two bands from outside New Orleans that have the flava.