Unlike most New Orleans revival clarinetists, Chris Burke fell under the influence of Louis Cottrell, Barney Bigard, Albert Burbank and Raymond Burke rather than the famous George Lewis. Burke plays both E and B flat Albert system instruments in a mellow but exciting style. In spite of his many tours with Barry Martyn’s "Legends of Jazz" outfit, Burke’s recording sessions have been few. Perhaps only five sessions have been recorded in the past 20 years.
The clarinetist was invited to Toronto for the annual "Kid Bastien Remembered" jazz party and was approached by bassist Colin Bray to record a session. Another jazzman, trumpeter/pianist, Brian Graville offered his recording studio at Georgetown, Ontario.
One can’t help but notice that the selection of songs reflect a variety of old numbers that enjoyed a resurgence in the 1950s including "Love Walked In," "Paradise," and "Four Leaf Clover," plus the brand new 1957 hit "A White Sport Coat And A Pink Carnation," made popular by the late Marty Robbins. "Love Nest" has been a perennial since 1920, but many folks hear it first as the theme of the George Burns and Gracie Allen radio and TV shows.
The recording is a result of a truly relaxed quartet. Chris Burke is ably backed by the Kid Bastien influenced trumpet of Patrick Tevlin who took over the "Happy Pals" band when the leader passed on in 2003. Pianist Reide Kaiser and bassist Colin Bray are members of, what this writer calls, "Jazz Crusade’s all star rhythm section." Both men love and understand New Orleans vintage jazz. They have recorded with such players as "Tuba Fats" Lacen, Jacques Gauthe, Gregg Stafford and Dr. Michael White.
Chris Burke’s playing is best described as effortless throughout and he’s impressive on every tune. Tevlin, Bray and Kaiser are outstanding on a few numbers including "Smiles," "Four Leaf Clover," "Love Nest," and "Why Should I Cry Over You." Chris Burke handles the vocal on the latter piece with some very nice work by Reide Kaiser.
Overall, this is a nice informal gathering of like-minded musicians playing the music they love.