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Amede Ardoin

Mama, I'll Be Long Gone – The Complete Recordings of Amede Ardoin 1929-1934

(Tompkins Square)

The story of accordionist/singer Amede Ardoin draws similarities to those of Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson and Buddy Bolden. He was a legendary musician in western Louisiana and eastern Texas before a racially motivated incident left him beaten and scarred — and he also endured a subsequent stay in a mental institution. Before that unfortunate event, Ardoin created some of the earliest Cajun and Creole music recorded. On this Tompkins Square release, the songs jump right out at you. They are raw and immediate, and Ardoin's accordion work is precise and energetic. Although most of the songs simply feature Ardoin solo or accompanied by fiddler Dennis McGee, they carry a sound more full than one might expect from a solo or duo. On songs like "La Valse Ah Abe," the musical lines that each plays complement the other whether McGee bows a drone underneath Ardoin's syncopated chords and single-note runs or he plays a melody similar to Ardoin's voice. Ardoin's voice is a wonder. It has power as he opens his throat and goes for broke on songs like "Les Blues Prison" and "Two Step D'Elton." When Ardoin switches to a nasal almost-whiny tone, it emphasizes his sadness over women who won't treat him right in the lament of "Valse de Gueydan" and "Valse de Ballard." In terms of quality, these recordings were remastered directly from the original 78 rpm recorded from 1929 to 1934, so some of the tracks have some static. Most of them come through with a clarity that allows the instruments and vocals to be as close to pristine as possible given the original equipment on which they were recorded. But even with the static, listeners can hear why Ardoin and these recordings are the pioneering classics of Cajun and Creole music. — David Kunian




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Tim Laughlin with Connie Jones

If Dreams Come True

(Gentilly)

Although fans have heard these two at their individual gigs as well as Pete Fountain concerts, the duo of Tim Laughlin and Connie Jones had never recorded together before this release. If Dreams Come True is a fine, swinging album with a tight rhythm section and great selection of songs. In contrast to previous Laughlin recordings, there are no original tunes here. Instead, the album runs the gamut of pre-1960s jazz, including the gypsy sexiness of Django Reinhardt's "Tears," a stately ballad in Stuff Smith's "It's Wonderful," and the small group swing of "The Best Thing For You Would be Me," with Jones bouncing in a more modern fashion over the rhythm section. The leads deliver gorgeous tones. Laughlin's clarinet is clear and mellow with a hint of the instrument's reediness in the lower registers, and Jones hits the notes with a strong attack and a little vibrato. Together they take little-heard tunes from between 1916 and 1965 and make them into the standards they should have been. Whether playing together over the great stick work of Danny Coots on the New Orleans strut "Wang Wang Blues" or repeating and varying the five-note motif of Sidney Bechet's wistful lament "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere," Laughlin's and Jones' playing is relaxed and gorgeous. Several songs also feature Jones' singing, which like his cornet playing, emphasizes the melodic lilt of "It's A Wonderful World" and "New Orleans and A Rusty Old Horn" without becoming maudlin or resorting to emotional cliches. Currently, there are many great practitioners of traditional New Orleans music and swing, but few have the unique touch and chemistry Laughlin and Jones find here so easily. — Kunian

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