The Richness of Early Jazz


Review by Harvey Barkan

Photos by Jim Swavely


Enthusiastic audience response to the classic vintage jazz of Ginger Pauley and the Hoosier Daddys is rather consistent and observable, and includes more smiles and less table chatter, and more reaction and less empty chairs, than most concerts at the Valley Jazz Club, in the Canoga Park area of Los Angeles. Her performance was true to the 1920's to the 1940's with her tune selections, sounds and arrangements, most certainly her style and appearance. Wearing an intensely red dress with sparkles, a long single strand of gleaming white pearls, a boa matching her red dress but with added areas of black, white feathers in her hair, ivory gloves reaching above her elbows, and a big warm smile that could melt the ice in your bootlegged Prohibition beverage! If a black and white photo were to be taken of Ginger singing into her ornate antique microphone, with it's four-pointed star set within the vertical round circle, all surrounding the microphone element, it would look like it was taken in the 1920's. Ginger re-created the original Helen Kane sound and character for just a couple of songs, "Oh, I'm In Love" and "That's Why I'm Happy," before moving on, although fans of her authentic Helen Kane sound were left wanting more, she does it so well! There are many sides of her presentation skills, and she wisely wants to present herself beyond her talents as Helen Kane-like, but like some others, I found myself thinking, "It's just so good, maybe just one (or two) more!"

To assist Ginger to properly perform vintage songs, a band that enjoys and understands the music is an absolute necessity, and the Hoosier Daddys do an outstanding job of supporting her. The concert opening number, "Sugerfoot Stomp"/"Dippermouth Blues," was one of the only two that was an instrumental, without vocals. Each player was introduced with a brief solo of his or her best work. Near the end of the program, Ginger announced the bands' second instrumental as "a modern tune, for them,"  "NightTrain," from the 1950's, featuring a rotation of the band members. The Hoosier Daddys deserve to be identified for their quality and precise vintage work: Paul Kosmala, piano; John Hatton, bass; Bobby Barron, drums; C. J. Sams, trumpet and cornet; Phil Krawzak, tenor sax; and Katie Cavera, plectrum banjo and guitar. As a true "latter-day vintage band" (perhaps a contradiction of terms, but I'll go on...) their musical instruments are strictly acoustic, without electronic amplification, for accurate vintage sound.

   The lighted, mirrored ball hanging and revolving from the high ceiling, sending little squares of moving lights around the floor and walls and on the people seated in the audience or dancing were perfect for the bygone era of Ginger's songs. She successfully challenged a 1920's song not often sung, but often played as a trumpet solo, "Sugar Blues." Long established as Cyde McCoy's theme song many decades ago, it has been replayed by other trumpet players ever since his famous and beloved and showy "wa wa" trumpet style as a wonderful trumpet solo piece, but unfortunately, the unused lyrics gather dust. Other vocals performed were: "Hitchy Koo," "After You've Gone," "You Were Meant For Me," "Honeybunch," "You're Getting To Be A Habit," "Ain't She Sweet," and "I Double Dare You."

Ginger Pauley and the Hoosier Daddys presented a delightful program of hard-to-sit-still vintage jazz. Truly a "showman," Ginger knows how to present vintage jazz concerts with nostalgia and just fun appreciation to entertain and pleasure her audiences. As the saying goes, she left us wanting more!  A personal example is wanting to again hear her presentation of "Dream A Little Dream Of Me," a favorite song of mine, as I heard Ginger sing a couple of years ago, that was the best presentation of that great song since the late "Mama" Cass Elliott. Oh, well, maybe next time!


A not for profit organization dedicated to promoting Jazz in the San Fernando Valley.