Rekindling The Dream

Independence Jazz Reunion

Conawago Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Sit back and let me tell you a story... this is a story about loyalty and how it can pay off in the long run.

Four decades ago, a jazz group called Independence Jazz Reunion was building up quite a name for themselves. They even had an album released in 1959, and the future looked as bright as the glare off a hi-hat cymbal.

Then, tragedy -- okay, so I'm being a bit melodramatic. Band leader Rick Lundquist was drafted, and the band chose to break up rather than continue without their leader.

Move the clock forawrd to 1997. Our heroes are now well-settled into careers -- including the worlds of jazz music and aeronautics. The time comes for the boys -- now men -- to rejoin forces (plus a new member or two) and pick up the dream of playing jazz for fun.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

What's that, kids? I should lay off the Boone's Farm? Sorry, this is a true story, as Independence Jazz Reunion's disc Rekindling The Dream documents. It's an interesting journey for the listener, and one that ends up being well worth the investment of time.

To call this group pure "jazz" would be to call a Picasso just oil paint on canvas -- meaning, there's a lot more than what appears on the surface. On one side, you have the group reveling in the joy of Dixieland and Benny Goodman-style jazz music. But on the other, you have the group engaging in Mel Tormé-style scat phrasing and even some well-thought-out humor. Strictly speaking, this isn't "jazz" -- but I'm not complaining that it encompasses so much more. If anything, it makes the group that much more special.

Admittedly, some of the older, time-proven material ends up being the music that constitutes the slowest parts of Rekindling The Dream. I fully understand why songs like "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "St. James Infirmary" are included in the set, but they honestly don't do this group that much justice, as they don't give the band nearly enough room to creatively stretch their legs. This, however, is quickly remedied -- not surprisingly, with the same older material like "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Royal Garden Blues" and "Everyday I Have The Blues."

The inclusion of two originals from bassist Jay Leonhart, "It's Impossible To Sing And Play The Bass" and "Me And Lenny" (the latter about an encounter with the late Leonard Berenstein), make me wish that Independence Jazz Reunion had tried out some more original material, since they proved they could pull it off with amazing results. Maybe this is something to continue hoping for as the band continues to perform together since this 1997 reunion.

What does a disc like Rekindling The Dream prove to us, kids? Well, it first and foremost shows us that the classic form of jazz is very much alive and well, and is just as timely today as it was in its heyday. But it also shows us that dreams can come true, even if they have to be put aside for almost four decades. Rekindling The Dream sounds so natural, as if they have been doing this their whole lives (admittedly, some of them have)... and for that, we all should be thankful.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Conawago Records, and is used for informational purposes only.