The Dizzy Birds (featuring Meschiya Lake)
Because We Can
Hot jazz in Europe draws closer to ragtime and marching band presentation because from polkas to mazurka’s the brass ensemble lived longer in public life on the continent. Give the Dizzy Birds new album, Because We Can, a listen and you’ll catch what I mean. The result is a sound reminiscent of the earliest period of jazz even when the band toys with other influences, as here with a notable Caribbean accent, and a romance of vocal groups.
They give “Wild Man Blues” a rag treatment with nice little piano rollouts and rising ensemble sections rather than a soloing focus. They re-imagine “Jolly Rovin’ Tar,” a song associated with The Irish Rovers, as a vocal Calypso ballad. They transform the Mills Brothers’ “Jungle Fever” into a haunting art piece. They bring something new out of each song while staying within the sound of American music from the ’20s to ’40s. Irving Berlin’s “Marie” is done neither in Dorsey fashion nor in the syrupy sweet style of the twenties but with a rock-steady beat and vocals from Meschiya Lake that are knotty and unwittingly attractive. If I had to wager I’d say the version most familiar to the band was a 1960s cut from an Irish pop vocal group called The Bachelors. The men close out the album with a vocal group take on “I Get the Blues When it Rains” an album that seems to have used those groups as a jumping off point for something hotter.
The musicianship as a whole is solid and professional, as is the production of the album. Each turn of the page brings something new. Though based in Germany the bandmates have origins across the continent. Twelve are named on the credits, many on multiple instruments, and without individual song credits it is hard to point anyone out with certainty. But together they make good use of a deep pool of talent.
The Dizzy Birds bill themselves as “Europe’s Hottest Jazz band.” With the addition of New Orleans’ own Meschiya Lake they just might be. She also appeared on their previous album, and has a long association with the Berlin-based Syncopation Society. Following in the steps of many fine musicians before her she has officially relocated to Germany as of this summer and will be singing for the Dizzy Birds among others. She brought the band to NOLA in 2017. I see more international recognition in their future.
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