1 Buddy Bolden's Blues (4:38)
2 8 9 & 10 (3:23)
3 Just Squeeze Me (3:10)
4 Shorty's Got to Go (3:19)
5 Lotus Blossom (4:23)
6 Bucket's Got a Hole in It (3:48)
7 I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles (2:50)
8 I'm Beboppin' Too (4:16)
9 I'm Confessin' That I Love You (4:39)
10 Sweet Marijuana Brown (4:18)
Molly Reeves – Guitar and Vocal
Kellen Garcia - Bass, BG Vocal
Ryan Robertson - Trumpet and Vocal
The Liner Notes
The great American composer and bandleader Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was the first to say it outright: "It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing." And how right he was. The Viper Mad Trio has taken the Duke's lesson to heart, instilling all their music with tons of swing and plenty more besides, all delivered with sophisticated nuance and musical singularity seldom mastered by such young musicians. Central to the trio's stunning exposition of the fundamental elements of trad-jazz swing is bandleader, guitarist, and vocalist Molly Reeves. Molly, now only in her early 20s, is a wise old musical soul. Despite her youthful, pixyish appearance, her creative vision embodies decades of hipster musical experience. Molly claims to have had no real interest in playing music until a pre-adolescent allergic condition derailed her "sporty kid" childhood at the tender age of 12, but she nonetheless can boast of beaucoup musical DNA. Her grandfather played bass. Her grandmother, very present during her childhood, played selections from the Great American Songbook professionally on accordion. Molly's paternal great aunt left home at 14 to play trumpet in New Orleans, ultimately recognized as one of the town's best trumpeters when she joined them in performing at a symbolic wake for Louis Armstrong, New Orleans' favorite musical son.
Where Reeves is concerned, once the music bug hit her, it hit hard. Stuck at home with no outlet for her prodigious creative energy, she picked up a guitar and something clicked into place. Reeves' wise old grandma immediately recognized the budding musician in her darling descendant and sent her to a summer jazz camp whose faculty was composed of the crème de la crème of Northern California trad-jazz cats. "I knew from that moment on, "Reeves recounts, "that I wanted nothing else but to be a professional musician. And I knew music rooted in traditional jazz and jazz swing would always be where my heart is." Enlightenment can do crazy things to anyone's backward view of their own life. Setting sails for a long voyage on the seas of American jazz and swing, Reeves suddenly recalled another, even deeper influence on her musical consciousness: the sound of iconic Gypsy-jazz guitarist Jean "Django" Reinhardt. Not only did Reinhardt invent a new way of playing jazz guitar, but teaming up with violinist Stéphane Grappelli in the mid-193Os he brought to life a new conception of jazz swing by way of Le Quintette du Hot Club de France. They created an ensemble sound that remains distinctive in its hipness, most accurately described by a veteran jazz critic as "one of the most original bands in the entire history of recorded jazz."
Another fundamental influence was Reeve's dad, a sports fanatic and inveterate entrepreneur. Reeves' inheriting the gift of business acumen from her father helps explain how, after gigging around for a couple of years, she became proprietor, at the tender of age of 14, of a swing-jazz ensemble based on a unique twin-guitar sound. Called Red Skunk, the band has recorded three albums and remains a hot commodity, even as these notes are being written, on Northern California's Hot Jazz Jubilee festival circuit. And in 2012, having accumulated a sufficiently large financial nest egg, Reeves, along with bass player and close collaborator Kellen Garcia (late 20s), proceeded to follow the example set by her trumpet-playing great aunt, purchasing a modest home to serve as her new home base to New Orleans. There, the pair looked up a buddy of Garcia's, trumpeter Ryan Robertson (early 30s), already immersed in New Orleans' burgeoning, post-Katrina brass band scene. It wasn't long before the Mad Viper Trio was born, taking its name from a composition by another New Orleans jazz giant, clarinet and saxophone player Sidney Bechet. For material to define their sound, the three young musicians mined the rich repertoire of pre-WWII, small-combo jazz, a body of music often marked by an exuberant and often humorous approach that eventually influenced well-known bandleaders like Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan.
Garcia and Robertson -- who previously played together as graduate students at Sacramento State University -- anchor the Mad Viper Trio's highly polished sound on bass and trumpet respectively. Reeves provides the essential spark that brings the music vividly alive, contributing equally to the ensemble's musical interplay as both a stand-out guitarist and sprightly and arresting lead vocalist. "I try to let the music, as it's being made, shape how I approach each vocal performance," Reeves explains, "something like an instrumentalist taking a solo, playing with tone or timbres, adding a separate and complementary melody line to the overall band sound." Reeves also takes her role as bandleader seriously, helping manage the Viper Mad project co-operatively and sharing lead vocals with Robertson. All three musicians in the band work hard to bring a concise treatment, previously and thoughtfully conceived, to each composition. What results, and what makes the Mad Viper Trio stand apart from other latter-day purveyors of swing, is an intimate and smoothly integrated sound that sounds less like a vocalist with a back-up band and more like a classical chamber quartet. Like a chamber quartet, each element -- vocal, guitar, trumpet, and bass -- plays off each other while interweaving an overall sound. With youthful talent to spare and intense musical passion very much in evidence, the Mad Viper Trio already impresses with its musical mastery and artistic originality, all the while swinging just like seasoned veterans.
Roger Hahn New Orleans 2013
Recorded at SuiteMix Studio, Slidell, LA. Engineer: George Cureau
Liner Notes: Roger Hahn
Graphic Design: Jennifer Romanick http://www.jenniferromanick.com
Produced by Gary J. Edwards
©2013 Sound Of New Orleans
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New Orleans, LA 70117
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Sound Of New Orleans
Viper Mad Trio
"Buddy Bolden's Blues"
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