Subtitled “Hot Jazz from Chicago,” “Diga Diga Doo” (Delmark) takes you back to the 1920s and ’30s. Jazz seemed happier then, if this jaunty revival by present-day adherents is representative. With veteran Grosz on guitar, banjo and the occasional vocal, and the Fat Babies, a septet from Chicago, the performances are full of irresistible rhythmic drive, exuberant polyphony and from-the-heart personal expression.
The 85-year-old Grosz primarily plays rhythm guitar, a strumming chordal style that keeps time in concert with the piano, bass and drums. The sloshing, seesawing beat is as addictive as Latin music’s clave beat and the blues’ shuffle beat. Grosz limits his solos to short breaks and fills, which along with his few vocals reveal his fine sense of humor.
The Fat Babies include founder and bassist Beau Sample, cornetist Andy Schumm, clarinetists and saxophonists John Otto and Jonathan Doyle, trombonist Dave Bock (a.k.a. Panic Slim), pianist Paul Asaro and drummer Alex Hall. Guest pianist Jim Dapogny also performs.
There are superb solos all around: tenor saxophone turns reminiscent of the late Bud Freeman (the inspirational 1930s Chicago tenor star), rocking stride piano solos, Schuum’s swinging melody statements out front of the ensemble, and clarinet lines embroidering Schumm’s lead, among others.
Highlights include “A Jazz Holiday” (with that sloshing washing machine beat), the title cut (with Schumm playing the melody on a comb wrapped in newspaper), “Rose of Washington Square,” “Church Street Sobbin’ Blues” and “The Lady in Red” (named for the brothel owner who tipped police about the whereabouts of gangster John Dillinger on the night he was shot and killed).
Correspondent Owen Cordle
Marty Grosz and the Fat Babies
Diga Diga doo