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Big-T & the Bada-Bings


Ronnie Magri and his New Orleans Jazz Band
Shim Sham Revue

It's not just the cover of Ronnie Magri's album Shim Sham Revue that conjures up visions of Burlesque. With the bawdy-house horns and suggestive rhythms evidenced throughout this collection of classics, the "show" is so palpable that I find myself missing it...and that might be this album's only shortcoming.

Most of the songs are proven; Ellington's "Mood Indigo" and "Black and Tan Fantasy" need no introduction; classics like "Moonglow" and "Deacon's Hop" likewise stand alone. The gift of Magri and his group of skilled players is infusing these compositions with the distinctive flavor of Storyville, the old red-light district of New Orleans.

Magri's drumming is understated, leaving plenty of room for the bodily percussions of imagined enchantresses. Duke Heitger plays the muted trumpet as well as any man has a right to, especially on a notably gritty rendition of "The Mooche", and plays just as well on an almost puritan "Stormy Weather." The arrangements are all solid, and the supporting horn work of Evan Christopher, Jerry Jumonville, and Brian Ogilvie nicely complement the steady lines of bassist James Singleton and the titillating trills of pianist Joe Krown.

Only one song features vocals, "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show", and it's the least memorable of the many fine cuts on this disc. Marcy Hesseling sings like a featured performer in a gentleman's club, which sadly is not a credit to her vocal gifts. Perhaps her show is better live—but I'm not here to review that kind of shenanigans. I'm just here to say that this one's a keeper.

—Dante Murphy

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