Porkopolis Blues is a non-pretentious, straight ahead jazz session, featuring some of Cincinnati's finest players.
The quartet format features clarinet, curved soprano saxophone, drums and bass, in a highly unique and individualistic approach to jazz.
The music is lively and the rapport between the featured reedmen, Chris von Volborth and the internationally reknowned clarinetist Joe Lukasik, is highly sympathetic and artistically spontaneous.
Chris, known for his early 1980 production of The Jazz Minstrels, has an unusually mellow yet fat sound on the curved soprano and is also featured on the sopranino saxophone; Joe plays the Eb clarinet on one selection.
These are unusual instruments to be featured in small-group jazz endeavours, yet here they are employed with great effect.
A solid underpinning of drums and bass is evident throughout this recording, based on years of jazz performance experience.
Chris has played jazz in both the US and Europe. He studied briefly with Joe Viola and Charlie Mariano while a student at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
Ron McCurdy, drums, first made his mark with Curtis Peagler's Jazz Disciples on Prestige Records in the early fifties, and became a staple on the Cincinnati jazz scene. He is the house drummer at The DeFelice Cafe in Covington, Kentucky.
Lou Lausche, bass, has recorded on Concord with Cal Collins, among others. He is also featured on Cadence releases with Paul Plummer and Ron Enyard, and stays busy as one of the locally more sought after bassists.
Joe Lukasik is truly a clarinet giant, that rare case of an all-around professional who has his own distinctive contemporary sound. He is equally at home in classical, jazz, and ethnic music settings.
Clearly, swinging is the primary goal of these seasoned jazz players.
Porkopolis Blues is a tribute to the rich jazz heritage of Cincinnati (Porkopolis), Ohio.
It is toe tapping jazz, sometimes mainstreamish, sometimes boppish, always musical, that leaves you feeling happy and satisfied.
There is even room for a tongue-in-cheek approach to The Chicken Dance (Cincinnati boasts the world's largest Chicken Dance during Oktoberfest, on the order of thousands gyrating simultaneously on Fountain Square), which opens with a Tyrolean flavored Rollinesque calypso beat, and settles into a funky and straight ahead shuffle workout! It's definitely unique.
You'll recognize old standards such as Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing" and Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair."
Chris has contributed two of his own compositions, "Porkopolis Blues," and "The Drummer from Belfast," dedicated to Ron who originally emigrated to the U.S. from guess where???
America is rediscovering swing and jazz, the music that has the honest and smoky bar-room punch. The funk that is bred in the heart, not the suburbs. The enthusiasm that is not afraid to say "music is fun!" This CD has all those qualities and more.
We wish you happy listening.