Summertime by Eli Newberger and Jimmy Mazzy





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Published on Jul 23, 2007

Here's an excerpt from the New York Times Review of the Mazzy/Newberger CD "Shake It Down," by jazz critic John S. Wilson:

"The banjo and tuba duets by Jimmy Mazzy and Eli Newberger on ''Shake It Down'' (Stomp Off 1109) have a precedent of sorts. "According to Tex Wyndham, an authority on early jazz who wrote the liner notes for the album, it is found in recordings made in the years before World War II by black rural blues singers who often played guitar or banjo and were accompanied by string bass or tuba. Both Mr. Mazzy and Mr. Newberger are members of bands that record for Stomp Off - Mr. Newberger plays tuba with the Black Eagle Jazz Band and Mr. Mazzy is banjoist and singer with the Yankee Rhythm Kings. Mr. Newberger is also a pediatrician who has taught at Harvard Medical School and whose scholarly writings have appeared in both the Journal of Jazz Studies and Pediatric Clinics of North America.

"Their duets, played at a concert for the Adult Education Program in Brookline, Mass., include tunes by Ma Rainey, Jelly Roll Morton, Eubie Blake and Jabbo Smith as well as the 1940 Oscar-winning song, ''When You Wish Upon a Star,'' and one of a series of three piano preludes written in 1927 by George Gershwin. Mr. Mazzy sings several of them with husky-voiced intensity and a sentimental enthusiasm that sometimes suggests a cross between Ted Lewis and Clancy Hayes. His banjo-playing is relaxed and flowing, providing light lines that help the tuba rise up and shuffle around.

"Mr. Newberger's tuba is often surprisingly light and lyrical as it sings melodies softly over the banjo's backing. It has unusual expressive range. On Ma Rainey's ''Jelly Bean Blues,'' it sounds utterly forlorn, and on Jelly Roll Morton's ''Chicago Breakdown,'' it has the attack of a charging bull elephant. Gershwin's Prelude in C sharp minor, is played by Mr. Newberger as a whimsical gimmick - a duet with himself as he fingers the tuba valves with one hand and plays the piano with the other. Forgetting the tour de force and simply taking it at face value, it is a charming and remarkably unaffected performance."

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