Paying tribute to Fats Domino at the Jazz & Heritage Festival
Itâ€™s hard to imagine a more fitting stage for pianist Mitch Woods and his hand-picked New Orleans Rocket 88â€™s band than the Jazz & Heritage Festivalâ€™s blues tent. Though he was born in Brooklyn, and came of musical age on the West Coast, his New Orleans influences flow through him as he consecrates the stage with jump blues, boogie-woogie and swing. Woods and his musical colleagues are deep in their element, and their element is deep in them, swinging tightly through both original material and covers of Wynonie Harris, Clarence Garlow, Hank Williams, Jackie Brenston & Ike Turner, and as the albumâ€™s title signifies, Fats Domino.
Woods opens the set with his own â€œSolid Gold Cadillac,â€ with drummer Terence Higgins quickly setting everyoneâ€™s toes tapping and the three-piece horn section flexing its muscle. Woods exhorts the audience to acknowledge the band as he rolls out the boogie-woogie piano and sings with infectious joy. The saxes offer both punctuation and hot solos, including a stellar outing by the legendary Roger Lewis on a rousing cover of Hank Williamsâ€™ â€œJambalaya.â€ Guitarist John Fohl adds sizzling licks and the rhythm section alternately lays back in second-line grooves and spurs the band forward.