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March 10, 2006

Canadian Jazz CD Release Jeff Healey and the Jazz Wizards

Written by
cindy mcleod

CD Release / Jazz / Blues
Jeff Healey & The Jazz Wizards / It’s Tight Like That
With special guest Chris Barber
Stony Plain Records / 2006
*Advance Copy – Due for release April / 2006

Guitarist Jeff Healey is a legend in his native Canada, with an international reputation in the rock and blues worlds for his unorthodox technique and high-energy power. Unknown to many is that Healey is also an accomplished trumpeter, and a musicologist with a special interest in the history of jazz and blues, particularly that of the 30’s & 40’s.

It’s Tight Like That, Healey’s upcoming release with his group The Jazz Wizards, a collective of fellow Toronto jazz talents who recreate the genre in grand style, and showcases guest trombonist Chris Barber, a founding father of the British traditional jazz & Blues scene. Vocalist Terra Hazleton also makes an appearance on one track. Healey contributes guitar, trumpet, valve trombone, and vocals to the recording, often revealing the influences of Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Charlie Christian, and other jazz groundbreakers in his sound. Trombonist and occasional vocalist Chris Barber lends the seal of authenticity with his robust and vibrant performance.

Recorded during two concert performances, Healey chose twelve selections from the live settings for It’s Tight Like That“Bugle Call Rag” is performed in true New Orleans style, as Healey captures the trumpeter’s sound and the band bursts into a riot of music on the end, the players intertwining their individual voices masterfully. Chris Barber introduces “Basin Street Blues” vocally and turns in a superb performance. Healey’s obligatto trumpet sings of Satchmo as it wraps itself around the swing-blues feel, and Barber’s trombone solo shines, his great agility and breadth of tone apparent as he takes the first chorus in the lower register and second in the upper, playfully injecting musical quotes throughout and taking out the tune in a solo ending. Healey sets up “Someday Sweetheart” with his guitar and vocal intro, laying down the medium swing feel for each player to take a chorus in turn, with Barber’s trombone evoking Bechet and Healey’s trumpet stretching the bounds with its pliable, bending notes. The violin ties the sound together with its versatility and textural qualities throughout. The delightful up-swing rendition of “Sheik of Araby” takes you straight to the deep south, with Healey’s vocal lines answered by a chorus of voices as a honky-tonk piano tears up the joint, the clarinet rips a solo, and the drummer wows the crowd with his agile stick work. The mournful “Going Up the River” has a Fats Domino feel suspending the blue melody, and Healey’s gritty vocal wails as his guitar harmonizes with Barber’s trombone.

Direct from the Golden Era of jazz and swing, It’s Tight Like That is feel-good music heartily served up by Jeff Healey and the Jazz Wizards, and topped with a heaping helping of joy. This timeless music evokes the clubs of yesteryear while satisfying audiences of the new millennium, faithfully keeping the genre alive and flourishing for generations to come.

For more information visit www.stonyplainrecords.com

Cindy McLeod

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