Midiri Brothers Septet - Live! at Bridgewater (2001)

The Midiri Brothers' small jazz groups and big band arguably represent the classic Benny Goodman sound of the '30s and '40s better than any other musical organization ever to grace my ears. Joe Midiri is so devoted to Goodman's music that his groups often play the big band pioneer's recorded works transcribed note for note rather than interpret the pieces themselves. This may not be to the liking of someone who would rather own an original Van Gogh in lieu of a print of his work, but since the Midiris' are the only musical organization that I'm aware of that plays the clarinetist's music as a way of life their fans are happy, and judging by much of their press, deliriously so.

This live concert CD was recorded at Bridgewater, N.J. on Jan. 13, 2001 on the occasion of the Midiris' second straight performance at an annual salute to Goodman. The brothers were thrilled to be the first group ever invited back two years in a row. The group performing then modeled itself after the Goodman Sextet from 1939-1942 that featured Charlie Christian, the electric guitar pioneer. The CD is filled out with four in-studio performances that are just as good as the eight live tracks.

All of the live selections were copied note for note off the Goodman originals by Joe Midiri. So, how did their performance sound? Exactly like you would expect Goodman to sound if you saw him play live.

The septet played several of The King of Swing's originals including "Six Appeal," "Breakfast Feud," "Seven Comes Eleven" and "Gone With What Draft," along with old standards such as "On the Alamo" and "More Than You Know."

The band included Joe Midiri on both clarinet and sax. His brother, Paul, contributed vibes and drums. The band also featured trumpet, acoustic, stand-up bass and guest pianist John Colianni. They replicated their idol's recorded works so well that you really do believe that it's Goodman, Christian and the rest of the original band playing these tunes. 

Note for note duplication may prevent this CD from being art in the eyes of jazz purists. But, these modern day Benny wannabes really play this stuff well, and those of us who always wished we could hear this music played on something other than cleaned-up 78 RPM records transferred to LPs or CDs appreciate the Midiris' efforts to preserve Goodman's place in jazz history.

Although the band is still active there seems to be a problem with their website, but their Facebook page is easily accessible.

There doesn't appear to be any sound clips or videos of this album available for you to sample so I'm serving up something more recent for you to enjoy.