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After Midnight - Hit That Jive, Jack

Reviewed by Scott Yanow, author of 11 books including Swing, The Jazz Singers, The Great Jazz Guitarists and Jazz On Record 1917-76, August 2014

"After Midnight is a sextet that was formed by its leader-clarinetist Roger Campbell in 1997. Based in Colorado, it is a particularly intriguing group, defying one’s expectations a bit. With its instrumentation of clarinet, guitar (Mike McCullough), vibes (Rick Weingarten), piano (Jerry Weiss), bass (Ced Forsyth) and Jim Moore (drums), one might expect the group to sound just like the Benny Goodman Sextet of 1939-40. But while After Midnight performs a few numbers from Goodman’s repertoire on this CD along with other swing pieces, it has its own musical personality.


Hit That Jive, Jack features the singing of Mike McCullough on around half of the selections (Rick Weingarten is heard on “What A Wonderful World” and Lionel Hampton’s “Hey Ba-Ba-Re-Bop”). McCullough’s vocals perfectly fit the 1940s/50’s era and he displays plenty of spirit and swing on such Nat King Cole-associated numbers as “I’m An Errand Boy For Rhythm,”  “Hit That Jive, Jack” and “Frim Fram Sauce.” Another special asset to the group is the arrangements, particularly for such obscurities as “Hi-Ya Sophia” and “Pick-A-Rib.” Roger Campbell plays those tricky passages effortlessly.


Campbell displays his own individual phrasing and ideas on his improvisations while Weingarten often hints at the quiet lyrical style of Red Norvo (rather than the more extroverted Lionel Hampton). “Sing Sing Sing,” which pays tribute to both the Louis Prima and Benny Goodman versions, is a strong highlight.


Fans of modern swing will enjoy After Midnight’s Hit That Jive, Jack."