Jean-Pierre "JP" Alessi is a dedicated follower of his late idol, Emmanuel "Manny" Paul. Manny Paul passed away in 1988 at the age of 84 and is remembered as one of the finest tenor players in the New Orleans tradition. He played with the Kid Thomas Algiers Stompers and Dejan’s Olympia Brass Band before joining the internationally famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Walking With The King
is the French band’s 10th album and features guest appearances by the American cornetist, Fred Vigorito and British clarinetist Sammy Rimington. Both have enjoyed an international reputation for decades. This CD marks Vigorito’s sixth and Rimington’s third recordings with Alessi’s band.
The album kicks off with a hot number titled "Fred Vigorito’s Boogie" and Alessi’s tenor delivering the opening walking bass figure. New Orleans fans will compare the tune to the old "Kid Thomas Boogie Woogie" and every band had their own version. Everyone gets a chance to solo and the interplay between Vigorito, Alessi and Rimington is exciting. There’s a nice banjo break by Henry Lemaire, one of the band’s longtime members.
Sammy Rimington takes center stage for a beautiful and imaginative reading of the well-loved "Just A Closer Walk." Rimington works through the full range of his instrument and Vigorito follows with a lovely muted cornet passage.
In typical New Orleans fashion, the group throws in a couple of hits that everyone remembers. They are Nat Cole’s "Pretend" and Lawrence Welk’s 1961 "Calcutta." The 1940s are not forgotten when the sextet launches into a nice version of "Rum And Coca Cola."
Every album must have a highlight and my pick has to be "Burgundy Street Blues." Sammy Rimington delivers a "perfect" reading of the Crescent City classic accompanied by the seasoned rhythm section of Henry Lemaire, Dominic Molton and Vincent Hurel.
"Victory Walk" is a New Orleans standard known by a multitude of titles. Harold Dejan called it "Olympia Special" but you’ll recognize the melody immediately. The ever-swinging Fred Vigorito outdoes himself on this one and is joined by Alessi on tenor and Rimington on alto sax. They riff the day away! Good stuff! Walking With The King
is a fine example of New Orleans music played by a most enthusiastic and inspired band.