“There is sleek, swinging pop jazz, hip big-band bebop, and the wide-bottomed second-line numbers Tippy and Hail King Zulu (a definite candidate for the hallowed Carnival canon with its thrilling James Rivers saxophone excursion).”
“Wardell has been leading bands since he formed the Royal Dukes of Rhythm in the mid- 50s. In recent years he has fielded a smoking ensemble known as Wardell and his Slammin Big Band, an all-star aggregation showcasing his original compositions and arrangements. A 4-track teaser CD was issued a year ago, introducing drummer-entrepreneur Bunchy Johnson’s great Wild Indian song, Pass It On ; the hard-swinging 3 Tenors for Moose, dedicated to WWOZ’s Don Big Moose Jamison; and Frankly Speaking, Wardell’s tribute to pianist and long-time musical compatriot Ed Frank.
These tunes and six more songs of equal weight and delight (including two versions of Johnson’s terrific Killer Joe homage titled Crazy Mary ) are finally available to the record-buying public as Maestropiece, the orchestra’s premiere full-length CD on Louisiana Red Hot Records. There is sleek, swinging pop jazz ( El Pavo, Slammin ), hip big-band bebop ( Chip ), and the wide-bottomed second-line numbers Tippy and Hail King Zulu (a definite candidate for the hallowed Carnival canon with its thrilling James Rivers saxophone excursion).
The stellar cast includes Warren Bell Sr., Roderick Paulin, Joe Saulsbury, Julius Hardy and Carl Blouin in the saxophone section; Tracy Griffin, Barney Floyd and Brian Murray among the trumpets; Craig Klein on trombone; the legendary Sam Henry on keyboards; Wardell’s son Brian Quezergue on bass; guitarists Leo Williams and Detroit Brooks; and drummers Bunchy Johnson and Leon Alexander. Quezergue’s crisp, juicy charts are well-played throughout, and the soloists make almost uniformly excellent contributions to the music.” – John Sinclair