FAME Review: Professor Cunningham & His Old School Band - Professor Cunningham & His Old School Band
Professor Cunningham & His Old School Band - Professor Cunningham & His Old School Band

Professor Cunningham
& His Old School Band

Professor Cunningham &
His Old School Band

Available from iTunes.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

When I think back, it was probably Leon Redbone who really nailed me to old time music. Sure, I'd been digging Ian Whitcomb, Brian Protheroe, and a number of others—and though I'd caught Waits at the Troub in his 70s Nighthawks tour, he's never been old timey, more cabaretic, folk, and dark—but seeing Redbone on TV, on Night at the Improv, just knocked me off my feet. Then I caught him live at the Strand (Redondo Beach), and, thenceforward, I was sold, and my love of the form has only increased yearly. Therefore, it was with much pleasure I received this very hip CD of swingin' covers of classic and prime period songs, some originally more to the later jazz side when written but here taken a few steps back in time by sax player, clarinetist, and flautist (vocalist too!) Adrian "Professor" Cunningham.

Not only does The Prof have his chops down, but his ensemble is tighter than hell in the best Dixie, Swing, and related traditions, every manjack of them a certifiable pro, with master drummer Rob Garcia touting a sit-in status with so many greats that it'd make even Tony Levin envious. Cunningham's arrangements are cooler than cool, and just about everyone gets in solos while otherwise swirling all around whomever is in the spotlight. Music like this is infectious in a way few other modes are, that's why we keep returning to the gems trotted out here and the style lavished upon them.

When you want a break from all the boisterousness, hipsway, and jivedaddies, however, slip into Harlem Nocturne, as smooth as finely aged scotch (with a spark of sass once Cunningham steps up the short middle eight), though St. James Infirmary is a cool and collected blueser as well, larked up a bit via flute. Those two numbers may indeed be cause for pause and reflection, but, overall, Prof. Cunningham and da boyz are cut-ups, happiness provocateurs, and feel-good twanglers using their finely honed skills to toss gloom and despair overboard, winkingly reminding us that our nature is actually playful once all the too-prevalent Calvinist Republicanism is put to the sword (and even 1% would be much too prevalent), so my advice as an M.D. (Music Doctor) is for you to get this CD, throw it on immediately, grab someone, dance your ass off, snatch a drink when the bartender isn't looking, stay up late, and then tell the boss to go fuck himself the next morning. For best health, repeat as often as possible.

Track List:

  • Bourbon Street Parade (Paul Barbarin)
  • Maple Leaf Rag (Scott Joplin)
  • Egyptian Fantasy (Sidney Bechet)
  • When my Dreamboat Comes Home (Friend / Franklin)
  • Maelstrom (Chu Berry)
  • Down Under (Dizzy Gillespie)
  • Harlem Nocturne (Hagen / Rogers)
  • On the Sunny Side of the Street (McHugh / Fields)
  • Jumpin' at the Woodside (Count Basie)
  • Sailor Boy (Fats Domino)
  • What will I Tell my Heart? (Lawrene / Tinturin / Gordon)
  • St. James Infirmary (Joe Primrose)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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