Roger Ruzow – trumpet
Jeff Crompton – alto
Bill Nittler – bari
Ben Davis – tenor
Blake Williams – trombone
Chip Epsten – violin
Colin Bragg – guitar
Chris Case – keys
Ben Gettys – bass
Keith Leslie – drums
from the liner notes by Doug DeLoach
Mingus once said, “Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.” East Atlanta Passover Stomp stands as a testament to the fulfillment of Mingus’ declaration.
Performed by an ensemble of the Atlanta area’s finest players, all but two of the selections on EAPS were composed and arranged by trumpeter Roger Ruzow (“Red Rat” and “9th Ward Dirge” were written by saxophonist Jeff Crompton). The music carries forward the legacy of wandering gypsy troupes and marching brass bands, Yiddish minstrelsy and Tijuana moodiness, black and tan fantasies, Yoruban juju, Jewish Seder service and big band boogie woogie. This is their music conjured up in a roiling cauldron by a composer with the wisdom and wit to make it all sound foot stompingly, finger snappingly cool. This is jazz concocted by a singularly creative mind, not just a variation on somebody else’s theme.
As the name implies, the 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra melds the Afrobeat style popularized in the 1960s by Nigeria’s Fela Kuti with a particular strain of folk-based melodies developed by mostly Eastern European Jewish peasants in late 19th and early 20th century, which became known as klezmer, while the 4th Ward is an Atlanta neighborhood whose special characteristics and characters inspired some of Ruzow’s compositions.
Painstakingly crafted, expertly mashed together, East Atlanta Passover Stomp funnels funk and highlife with a shot of synagogue and a rhapsodic side of blues. It’s an engagingly complex, simply enjoyable, thoroughly 21st century American music.