Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Dukes of Dixieland

Dixieland music was large in our house when I was growing up. I loved it from my first hearing. I was youngest of four and my sisters and brother owned good old 33 “and a third”  rpm vinyl records of the Dukes of Dixieland, a family band started in the year of my birth, 1948.  They rocked and the LP’s were lovingly well worn. LP…Long Playing. They were the technological advance from the preceding 78 rpm’s. That’s the speed of the spin. 78 revolutions per minute. 33’s, at a slower spin rate, played longer. Advances in fidelity of sound accompanied the 33 along with the introduction of stereo. The first commercial stereo LP? It was released by The Dukes in November of 1957. It would be awhile before much of the public owned the playing equipment to appreciate that stereo. We also listened to everything recorded at that time by The Firehouse Five Plus Two. It was another extraordinary group of talented Dixieland musicians who also happened to be the principal artist and illustration group at the early Disney BuenaVista production studios.
As time went on, Dixieland, as part of my music listening, fell to the back burner. Dixieland is one of the types of music, like most jazz, that is best live. In live performance, artists go with the flow and improvisation on the spot lends energy to the air and an ambiance and excitement to the music. It is great to experience. This experience was revitalized in early marriage when we lived in Denver. There was a special English pub style bar in the Cherry Creek area of town called The Bull and Bush. Still in business and still being family operated. Their logo is two toddlers, a boy and a girl, looking down and tugging the waistband of their diapers forward with the quote, “What’s Yours?” On Sunday evenings back then, they featured a local group of good musicians who loved Dixieland. We went often. It was a great night out with no cover charge. With our meager, early marriage income, we could go and nurse a beer for a couple of hours and enjoy.
So, with that to precede, Central Arizona College is in our current domicile, Casa Grande, AZ. We noted that today’s Dukes Of Dixieland was going to perform there. The original Dukes disbanded in the early seventies. It was restarted in 1974 as an endeavor to help keep this terrific American music alive. Today’s group is a continuance of that. We went to see them last night and wow. Drums, piano, bass, clarinet, trumpet and trombone. One of the greatest assemblage of musical talents I have seen live. Two of them held Masters Degrees in music, one had his Doctorate. They wailed, absolutely wailed. Many Dixieland orchestrations have the song being played rise up in intensity and then, inconceivably, lift again to a bone moving well tuned cacophony of the instruments to bring the song to a close. They were sublime at executing that.

Here's a try at a short video. Hope it works.

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