Wait a minute — it’s 2020? Well, you wouldn’t know it listening to this wonderful, time-warping collection of tunes. With a 40-year age difference, Buffalo-based musicians Westcott & Dr. Jazz (Brian Bauer) might seem like an odd couple. But the combination of Westcott’s old-timey banjo, guitar and voice with Dr. Jazz’s phenomenal multi-woodwind excursions makes for a perfect match.
Fats Waller and Alex Hill’s “I’m Crazy About My Baby” opens the album, setting the pace for Westcott’s raw vocals and Dr. Jazz’s wild solos. On Spencer Williams’s “Blue Spirit Blues” (a hit for Bessie Smith) Westcott channels Cab Calloway while Dr. Jazz provides appropriately spooky accompaniment.
A medley of Sidney Bechet’s “Viper Mad” and J. Russel Robinson and Andy Razaf’s “Reefer Man” (a hit for Calloway) features a question and answer session, with Dr. Jazz speaking by squeaking through his clarinet. The medley also features some of Westcott’s flashiest banjo playing.
Ron Netsky is a contributing writer for CITY News.