Benny Amón’s New Orleans Pearls

Benny Amón's New Orleans PearlsDrummer Benny Amón, who is originally from Davis, California, moved to New Orleans in 2011 and has been an important part of the local scene ever since.

On New Orleans Pearls, Amón expertly showcases a strong cast of musical personalities. With pianist Steve Pastorius, guitarist-banjoist Alex Belhaj, and bassist Tyler Thomson on most selections, eight of the 16 numbers also include trumpeter Wendell Brunious, trombonist Freddie Lonzo, and Tom Fischer on alto and clarinet. Two quintet numbers apiece put the spotlight on clarinetist Tim Laughlin (who sounds particularly wonderful on “Did I Remember”) and Joe Goldberg on clarinet, soprano and vocals.

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Pianist Pastorius gets James P. Johnson’s “Eccentricity,” Tony Jackson’s “The Naked Dance,” and James Scott’s “Grace And Beauty,” as his features. “Benny Face” is an unaccompanied drum solo by Amón that is reminiscent of Baby Dodds in the mid-1940s. His colorful and very alert drumming throughout the album (check him out during “Grace And Beauty”) adds to the infectious nature of the music.

The full septet is quite spirited during their performances. A delightful version of Kate Smith’s theme song “When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain” begins as a waltz before becoming a stomp. The group also performs a heated “Snake Rag,” the rarely-revived “Oriental Strut,” “Back In Your Own Backyard” (which has a spirited Brunious vocal), a rambunctious rendition of “Give Me Your Telephone Number,” “You Made Me Love You” (the Louis Armstrong original, not the swing era hit), a lyrical “The Purple Rose Of Cairo” and “California Here I Come” (with Brunious singing like Satch).

Recorded in a church, the echo and general acoustics are similar to that of a New Orleans dance hall in the 1950s and ’60s. New Orleans Pearls is pure musical joy.
www.bennyamon.com

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Scott Yanow

Scott Yanow

Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for AllMusic.com. He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 800 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag and Jazz Inside.

Benny Amón's New Orleans Pearls
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