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Jazz Reviews : Bob Crosby, Bob Cats

September 29, 1986|ZAN STEWART

Though skies were gray and overcast for most of the afternoon, Bob Crosby and the Bob Cats kept the audience warm with a convivial presentation of Dixieland classics at Saturday's Jazz at Ojai, held outdoors in Ojai's Libbey Park Bowl.

Crosby, a veteran singer/leader who organized his first band 50 years ago, was a relaxed, entertaining front man. He conducted that band--often with his left hand in his sports jacket pocket--he told funny stories and he sang a few numbers with a low, buttery voice.

His Bob Cats--Abe Most, clarinet; Eddie Miller, tenor saxophone; John Best and Dick Cathcart, trumpet; Bob Havens, trombone; Ray Sherman, piano; Bob Haggart, bass; Nick Fatool, drums--were an all-star bunch. They played the ensembles with commanding zeal and brought a degree of precision and feeling to the solos.

Most, a mainstreamer who swings effortlessly, delivered rippling lines on "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" and used his soft, pretty tone to soothe with "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans." Sherman played with sparkle and bounce.

Haven's zesty trombone lit up "Muskrat Ramble," "Tiger Rag" and "Basin Street Blues," where he used spinning clusters in his reinterpretation of the melody. Trumpeters Best, who played spirited lines, and Cathcart, whose tone was pleasingly rough at the edges, as well as tenor man Miller, who played with quiet simplicity, were standouts.

Haggart had a few solos, but none topped his whistling the melody to "Big Noise From Winnetka," while Fatool tapped out an infectious beat on the bassist's strings with his drumsticks.

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