Canada’s Stony Plains Records will re-issue two of Healey’s CDs that received very limited distribution in the past. Among Friends is from 2002 and was reviewed here in the same year. Adventures In Jazzland dates from 2004 and was originally released on the musician’s own HealeyOphonic label with a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Orthophonic records produced by Victor at the advent of electrical recording.
In addition to his regular crew, a few well-known visitors appear including Vince Giordano, Marty Grosz, Dan Levinson and cornetist Tom Pletcher. Pletcher is capable of duplicating Bix Beiderbecke solos better than any living cornetist.
Fans of vintage popular music and its composers will delight in Jeff Healey’s choice of material. While it’s nice to hear old favorites like "Poor Butterfly" and "Bugle Call Rag," it’s wonderful when Healey digs deep into obscurity to resurrect gems like "My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now" and "Mine, All Mine." The latter was penned by Russian-born Sam Stept and Harry Ruby. Stept’s biggest hit was "Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree." Jeff Healey handles the vocal like a singer of the period.
Other treasures include "Emaline" written by Mitchell Parish and Frank Perkins in 1934. Tom Pletcher is featured on cornet with Healey playing valve trombone and offering a spirited vocal.
Pianist, Frank Signorelli was best known for his work with the Original Dixieland Jass Band and later with the Original Memphis Five. Signorelli penned a beautiful tune which he titled "Little Buttercup." It’s performed on this CD by an unusual trio comprised of leader Healey playing solo guitar, Marty Grosz on rhythm guitar and Dan Levinson on clarinet. It’s as pretty a rendition as you’ll ever hear. In later years, lyrics were added and "Little Buttercup" became a standard, "I’ll Never Be The Same."
This recording was the first by Jeff Healey’s "Jazz Wizards" as they are known today and there’s plenty of lovely work by all his regulars Colin Bray, Reide Kaiser, Christopher Plock, Gary Scriven, Jesse Barksdale and Drew Jurecka. Adventures In Jazzland gets high marks both musicianship and originality.