David Bandrowski & the Rhumba Defense • French Onion Superman

On French Onion Superman, veteran banjoist David Bandrowski (in his recording debut as a leader) sought to explore a wide variety of New Orleans jazz. His excellent sextet with trumpeter Mark Braud, trombonist Charlie Halloran, clarinetist Tom Fischer, bassist Nobu Ozaki, and drummer Doug Belote stretches the boundaries of the music a bit while performing in various styles that are very much at home in New Orleans.

One has to expect the unexpected throughout French Onion Superman. It begins with a 1950s New Orleans r&b-ish groove on “Long Face” and a song (“Ay Cosita Linda”) that would fit very comfortably in a celebratory party around Mardi Gras time. “Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet” has a strong parade rhythm that made me think of Pete Fountain’s version from the early 1960s. Most unusual are a medium-tempo romp on “Skylark” (which is normally a ballad) and a very rhythmic and infectious version of “I Get The Blues When It Rains.”

Explore Upbeat Records

“I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive” is played a bit for laughs with Braud’s wa-wa trumpet purposely closer to Clyde McCoy than Bubber Miley. More straightforward are an uptempo “Runnin’ Wild,” a lowdown rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Shout ‘Em Aunt Tillie,” and a hot “Dippermouth Blues” (although I miss the band yelling out “Oh play that thing!”) before the group closes with the folkish “Johnny Too Bad.”

This intriguing and varied yet consistently enjoyable outing is recommended.

UpBeat Records

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 900 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, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

Or look at our Subscription Options.