Music

Terry Waldo and The Gutbucket Syncopators: The Ohio Theatre Concert

Nineteen tracks of pure, unhinged good-time music with an infectious energy that recall the earliest days of jazz.


Terry Waldo and The Gutbucket Syncopators

The Ohio Theatre Concert

Label: Delmark
US Release Date: 2009-09-29
UK Release Date: 2009-09-28
Label Website
Amazon
iTunes

By the time pianist and bandleader Terry Waldo and the Gutbucket Syncopators took the stage at the Ohio Theatre in Columbus, Ohio on April 13, 1974, ragtime had been in existence for the better part of a century, but had long since been replaced by those sub-sects of jazz that sprouted up from its roots. Many of those offshoots -- swing, bebop, cool -- had also fallen out of favor, having been replaced in the minds and ears of many Americans by rock 'n' roll. Why, in the midst of a world dominated by Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and a handful of other classic-rock pillars, would anyone organize a concert to blast out music that had long since seen its prime, or even still maintained a thread of relevance?

Because these tunes -- in the style of ragtime, stride, traditional jazz, Dixieland, whatever you wish to call it -- is simply some of the most uplifting music ever recorded: timeless and plain old fun. It's almost impossible to listen to this and not smile, tap your foot, or just feel a little bit better than you might have before you turned it on.

The second Delmark release by Terry Waldo and the Gutbucket Syncopators, The Ohio Theatre Concert, features 19 tracks of pure, unhinged good-time music and includes seven spectacular cuts featuring special guest vocalist Edith Wilson. From start to finish, this disc maintains an infectious energy that recalls the earliest of days when this music served as the soundtrack to barroom brawls and girls prancing on pianos, before it spawned dozens of dance styles.

After a pleasant opener, "Some of these Days", drummer Wayne Jones takes the lead vocal on "I Would Do Anything for You". Coming in behind the band with a cheery vocal past the two-and-a-half-minute mark, Jones closes out its final minute and a half with two charming verses followed by a detonation of joyful, rollicking clarinet, trumpet, and trombone. "The Letter", an upbeat number driven by Bill Morhead's scraping banjo and Mike Walbridge's bottomless booming tuba, features a melody and bridge that many music fans will pick out as a pop favorite -- here it's filtered through Roy "Swing Chops" Tate's brazen and brash muted trumpet, offset by the sweet buzzing vibrato of Frank Powers' clarinet.

"Maple Leaf Rag", originally published in 1899 by Scott Joplin, receives a well-executed reading by Waldo where his fingers playfully bounce up and down the piano. He plays with the true mark of a bandleader who would have been playing this music in its prime, with the knowledge of a musician who was equally adept at trumpet, tuba, banjo, cello, and bass, understand the tone, expressiveness, and role of each within a band. Waldo even takes the lead vocal on "How Could Red Riding Hood?", a delightful take on the classic children's story.

But it's on tracks nine through 15 where the spirits are raised to another level, marked by the appearance of guest vocalist Edith Wilson. Wilson was the second African-American woman to record, making her first record with Johnny Dunn's Jazz Hounds in 1921 (following Mamie Smith's 1920 recordings and predating Bessie Smith's cuts in 1923). She takes the stage at this concert 53 years after her debut, tearing through "My Man Ain't Good for Nothin' But Love", "Am I Blue?", "St. Louis Blues", "I'm a Great Big Baby", "Black and Blue", and two others with unrelenting vocal dynamics.

No recording of this kind would be complete without including Joplin's "The Entertainer" -- the theme to The Sting to some, the "ice cream truck" song to others -- but to all, one of the most recognizable and beloved pieces of music in any genre, among any generation. Waldo nails it with precision and poise. And that's how these musicians played -- with precision and poise -- but also with reckless abandon and unbridled enthusiasm. Listen to The Ohio Theatre Concert to clear up any doubts.

7

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image