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  • Jonathan Widran


Even if you don’t know how soprano saxophonist and clarinet great Ricky Alexander discovered jazz (through his grandmother) or anything about the illustrious career he’s built on the early 20th Century genres of ragtime, swing and stomps, you’re gonna love this guy = and understand as you listen to his latest triumphant album on Turtle Bay Records, why he’s a legend who Just Found Joy.

It’s not simply because of his bright, dizzyingly fast paced solos and quicksilver interaction with trumpeter/cornetist Jon-Erik Kellso and the high octane ensemble – but because of the goats. Goats? Yes, those gorgeous creatures that accompany him throughout the album artwork  - including a curious one looking over his shoulder on the cover as he blows on the clarinet and on the back cover.

If you get this non-stop delightful 12-track album on CD, don’t look for the insert booklet to have liner notes. The music, drawn from varied sources including Oklahoma! (the opening romp “People Will Say We’re In Love”), Jelly Roll Morton (“King Porter Stomp”) and traditional New Orleans music (the high fallutin’ “High Society”) and beyond, is infectious, engaging and self-explanatory. So open it and enjoy more photos of Alexander playing outdoors to a herd of goats.

What the goats have to do with the creativity involved in updating old-timey arrangements of tunes like “Sweet Lorraine” and “It Had To Be You” (featuring sultry vocals by up and coming singer Vanisha Gould), “The Touch of Your Lips”.  and “Rubber Plant Rag” is anyone’s guess. But if they’re enjoying what they hear so much – and no doubt swaying along to Alexander’s lone original, the sweetly swinging romance “Promenade” – there’s a good bet you will too! True to the album title, this is more sheer period-piece joy from Turtle Bay!


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