One Step To Chicago – The Legacy of Frank Teschemacher with Dick Hyman & Kenny Davern
The first impression is the CD packaging with its 80-page bound booklet that summarizes everything. My Uncle would’ve approved since he was always dismayed by a lack of annotation on early Big Band records. The lack of credits & back story.
This has it all. As it should be. While this set is made in the spirit of another era it’s not something dug out of an archive from the pre-Big Band days. Songs are from the 20s, recorded faithfully in 1992 & shelved. Legendary producer the late George Avakian brought 3 generations of jazz giants together at RCA’s NY studios to record the music associated with Frank Teschemacher & the Austin High Gang.
One session features 6 cuts with Dick Hyman & the Teschemacher Tribute Band. The 2nd is Kenny Davern & his Windy City Stompers on 7 more. Finally, combined bands on “Farewell Blues,” an 8-minute plus workout.
The 72-minute, 14-cut CD One Step To Chicago – The Legacy of Frank Teschemacher (Dropped July 15-Rivermont Records). The artwork is based on the original 1940 album – Decca Presents an Album of Chicago Jazz.
This set presents those old tunes in a premiere release all freshly minted. Clarinet player Teschemacher was killed in a Chicago auto accident in 1932 & appeared on that Chicago Jazz LP.
The Hyman sides start with “One Step To Heaven,” with all the 1920s ambiance the musicians could muster & recorded with modern-day analog clarity. Warm, rich & natural sounding the horns are pure. It actually suggests what the original recordings may have sounded like had that generation had 1992 technology.
Most songs go back to the 1920s, such as “Sugar (That Sugar Baby o’Mine)” from 1927. But the tunes have muscle. Personally, I admired Annette Hanshaw (“Who’s That Knockin’ At My Door”) & Lee Morse (“A Million Me’s”). They had that vintage pop-sensibility in their songs that these musicians recreate from energetic charts (“I’ve Found a New Baby”) with a hot piano solo & vigorous brass.
Players include Hyman (piano/director), Davern & Dan Levins (clarinets), Peter Ecklund & Dick Sudhatlter (cornet), Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet), Dan Barrett (trombone), Ken Peplowski (tenor sax), Marty Grosz & Howard Alden(banjo/guitar), Vince Giordano (tuba/bass sax), Bob Haggart & Milt Hinton (bass) & Tony DeNicola & Arnie Kinsella (drums).
The miracle is how a new generation of musicians perfectly interprets the spirit of a bygone day. The tune “Liza,” is filled with energy but it’s not the fiery drum song by the Chick Webb Band from 1938. This tune has a fiery clarinet with an arrangement that showcases the excellent instrumental interplay between musicians. May not be for everyone but this is a respectable document & tribute to a sparkling musical era.
Photo credit – Private Domain. CD @ https://rivermontrecords.com/products/2260?variant=39963518173245