New Orleans Lullaby
By Geraldine Wyckoff
In a town where musicians move freely between styles, Rick Trolsen still stands out for his genre jumps. Back in the mid-1990s, the trombonist’s explorations took him to the fringes of jazz when he headed his unorthodox group Neslort that produced the curiously wonderful Martian Circus Waltz. In 2004, Trolsen expressed his immersion into Brazilian choro music on his fine release, Gringo do Choro. This time, he’s all about New Orleans and tradition with a sweet tribute to his adopted hometown on an album full of classic jazz standards. The constant through all of these endeavors is the quality of Trolsen’s musicianship and the sensitivity and honesty he brings to each project.
He chooses artists to be by his side who share his talents and values. On New Orleans Lullaby, Trolsen and the band with pianist Tom McDermott or Frederick Sanders, bassist James Singleton or bassist/sousaphonist Matt Perrine, drummer Ronnie Magi and banjoist Larry Scala offer excellent versions of songs that fill this city’s air. It starts with the rich tones of Trolsen’s trombone mournfully alone ‘singing’ “What a Wonderful World.” The band jumps in with Tom McDermott on the piano for “Blue Turning Grey Over You” with Trolsen chiming in on vocals. McDermott seems to be called in when Trolsen aims for a classic sound, as on “Creole Love Song.” Here the trombone takes on the part typically played on clarinet or soprano saxophone.
Having the ‘bone as the only horn makes this traditional jazz gathering tonally unique and opens up new ways to approach old chestnuts. At points, Trolsen really goes for the high end of the register, almost emulating a trumpet on “Sleepy Time Down South.” Frederick Sanders gets onboard here and for other swinging numbers like “Give Me a Kiss To Build a Dream On.” The sousaphone and banjo team up for the uplifting “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” and the always articulate James Singleton gets some slapping bass going on “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”
New Orleans Lullaby satisfies on many levels because it’s damn good music played by damn good musicians. As the song says, “You can’t ask for anything more.”