Sunny Side • The Felicity Sessions

Front Cover Art, The Felicity Sessions, Sunny SideThis album got lost in the shuffle, many of my notes date back a full year and I needed to refamiliarize myself with many of them. The only unusual thing about that is I have not let this album slip into the mass of over a hundred that, though more than worthy, will never get a review. I’ve had it on my list, but there were always themes or “must review” items getting in the way of those albums, like this one, I choose to give ink to.

Not one of these musicians in Sunny Side has had their name in The Syncopated Times, until now, which I love. Only in New Orleans is that even possible. It’s been years since all the names on a West Coast or NYC album were unfamiliar to me. That is because New Orleans is still drawing them in like a bug light. Cheap enough to live and work enough for all. If you are the kid in your high school jazz band listening to “the old stuff” at home where else are you gonna go?

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Sunny Side is fronted by vocalist Darold Alexander. He has a warm old school crooner voice. Kermit Ruffins uses a similarly clear inflection and he’s as New Orleans as you can get. In fact, the second track “Sunny Side of the Street,” is one I strongly associate with Kermit. On a previously released live set Alexander is listed as a tap dancer as well as a vocalist, so he knows how to impress a crowd. The band is Adam Arredondo on trumpet, Andy Page on alto sax, Adam Lessnau on trombone, Soren Andradeon guitar, Steve Walch on bass, and Rob Montgomery on drums. Both Adams get a shot on vocals.

The Felicity Sessions were recorded in November of 2022 at Felicity Church in New Orleans, currently serving as an event space, and featuring great acoustics. I would not say this album has a live feel though, it is very smooth and polished—a showcase for a great working band from the Crescent City. Built around Darold Alexander’s voice, the sound sits within a timeless period of about 1930 to 1960, nodding to Nat King Cole as well as Louis Armstrong in press materials. The album kicks off with Lerner and Loewe’s 1947 “Almost Like Being In Love,” setting the tone.

Two band originals are excellent. “Rainbows Always Come With Rain” has a timeless New Orleans vocal pop feel, and could be easily covered. The band gets a nice jam on it. The other original, “Lazy Days,” is predictably mellow, a nice rumbling slow blues that could suit an August afternoon in the Bywater.

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That deep groove continues on Hoagy’s “New Orleans,” by which time in the album you will have realized this is more than just a show band. While the sound has broad appeal to young and old, full time jazz fans and tourists (and I could see them playing a morning show outside Rockefeller Center), that is because of good presentation not lack of substance. Trad jazz festivals looking for younger acts to book should look them up. Last summer they took a three week tour to Charlotte, Baltimore, NYC, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Louisville, Nashville, and Memphis. An itinerary that could be right out of 1929!

“Don’t Fence Me In” was an interesting choice. It is not done as Western Swing, not even in the ’50s pop sense, just a straight performance in their own style, with some more adventurous solos than elsewhere on the album. They have a hot little romp on “Boston Skuffle” with a Louis-style solo, showing their chops on the Bourbon Street Parade side of the local sound. I noticed scanning YouTube a number of well chosen and very New Orleans titles in their set including “My Monday Date,” “Paul Barbarin’s Second Line,” and Danny Barker’s “Save the Bones For Henry Jones.” They know the material.

The crowd pleasers here will be familiar to those without King Cake Parties on their calendar. “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” and especially “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” are both cultural touchstones that will give audiences the pleasure of recognition but are done with individuality and verve in extended productions feeling like cabaret routines. “You Can Depend On Me” stretches over a contemplative six minutes. A balance to the friskier numbers.

“My Blue Heaven” sends the album out on a ’50s New Orleans R&B vibe. Having lived in New Orleans, the local culture honors a number of musical moments that followed the birth of jazz. The times when Fats Domino or Aaron Neville brought the sounds of the city to a national audience and reignited local pride exist in a permanent present in the local consciousness. No other city can claim as many of those moments.

Sunny Side has produced an album worth looking up. If you visit New Orleans check their schedule, and if you are a scheduler, they should be on your radar.


Joe Bebco is the Associate Editor of The Syncopated Times and Webmaster of

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