Firecracker Jazz Band

Firecracker Jazz Band, what a bunch of swell fellas.
You may recall a few weeks back when I talked a little about the history of hot jazz in my discussion on the Hot Fives and Sevens. Today we’re going full circle from one of the first hot jazz acts, to one of the latest, the Firecracker Jazz Band. No doubt about it Firecracker is a hot jazz band through and through from their title, their style, their stage dress, right down to the band’s focus of reviving that swinging sound from the twenties. I hold hot jazz bands close to my heart. There really aren’t many that pull it off without letting other flavors of jazz seep in. In my opinion hot jazz is best in it’s purest form and Firecracker gets my approval(for what it’s worth). I also may be a bit biased towards hot jazz because it’s my favorite form of jazz overall.

Firecracker Jazz Band was founded in 2003 in the whereabouts of a wonderful city known as Asheville in North Carolina. The line up has changed a few times over the years but it is currently, Jon Corbin(guitar), Reese Gray(piano), Earl Sachais(trombone), Je Widenhouse(trumpet), Michael Gray(drums) and Henry Westmoreland(tuba). They are also known to tour with a female fiddler, Caroline Pond who provides vocals on many tunes. One thing that makes this band so special is how much each player participates in a given song. From first listen you get the feeling that everyone is given a chance to shine, from trumpet to tuba no single musician is providing only accompaniment.

I had the pleasure of seeing these guys play live and they put on one of the best performances I had ever seen. Each one of them are top musicians. Je Widenhouse is simply a fantastic trumpet player. I play the fiddle and watching Je play his trumpet made me want to run home and practice. Reese Gray’s piano chops are legendary in the contemporary hot jazz world. Reese originally gained the attention of Jimbo Mathus when he was a kid playing at a hometown restaurant. Jimbo asked him to join the Squirrel Nut Zippers and he was on his way. It doesn’t stop with those two though, Henry puts down a mean tuba solo, I can’t recall many times when I’ve been impressed by a tuba solo, but indeed he does. In the course of a song Earl and Je will play off each other trading runs back and forth, then you have a energetic young drummer and a guitarist that shouldn’t be over looked either, they really are a complete package.

Currently Firecracker has three full length releases and they are all fantastic albums. I’m partial to their second album “Explodes” simply because that’s the first one I heard but I have listened to the other two extensively and they are just as solid. Their albums can be a little tricky to get a hold of as they aren’t available through most of the traditional commercial music outlets. I ended up getting my copies directly from their site,

1) Hot Vintage Jazz [2004]
2) Explodes [2007]
3) Red Hot Band [2009]

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