Friday, July 17, 2015
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: JEFF HEALEY - THE BEST OF THE STONY PLAIN YEARS
The internationally-respected Edmonton roots label Stony Plain has an amazing 39 years of high-end releases under its belt, and has begun doing best-of compilations of some its higher-profile artists. The label had an important association with Healey, after the famed bluesman went back to his first love, vintage jazz.
Healey broke up the blues band, went off the road, set up his own club and began playing live and making jazz albums. These were old-school, swing-jazz records, sometimes with a bigger ensemble, sometimes just a trio, with Healey playing trumpet as well as guitar.
You could hear the joy in all of them, whether studio or live recordings. Healey obviously was thrilled to be able to work in his first love. He was a huge early jazz collector, with over 30,000 78 RPM records in his collection. That joy is infectious, and the music is always terrific fun. The cuts come from four different albums, plus one previously available only on a promotional set. You get such favourites as Star Dust, stompers such as Sweet Georgia Brown, the rave-up Sing You Sinners, and exotica in The Sheik of Araby. The blues are fine, Healey was one of the best in that field, but with this music so rare nowadays, this is the way I prefer to remember him.