Author: Huntoon, Perry
Date published: December 1, 2011
Journal code: IAJR
Barrett Deems - Deemus
Chuck Hedges (cl), Don DeMichael (vibes), Bob Roberts (lead guitar), Steve Behr (p), John Defauw (rhythm guitar), Wilson McKindra (b), Barrett Deems (dr), Lake Geneva WI, April 22, 1978.
Deed I Do / New Orleans / Shine / After You've Gone / Seven Come Eleven / Six Appeal / I Love Paris / Get Happy. TT 48:40.
I first saw Barrett Deems leading a small group at the Brass Rail in Chicago's Loop in August, 1959. I previously knew him as the drummer with Louis Armstrong's All-Stars and particularly from the recording of Now You Has Jazz with Bing Crosby from the film High Society. Shortly after I saw him, Barrett joined Jack Teagarden's sextet for a while. By the time I moved to Chicagoland in 1994, Barrett was leading an 18-piece big band and playing regularly at the Elbo Room on North Lincoln Avenue. That band recorded two CDs for Delmark.
This CD, now reissued by Delmark, was originally a short-lived Lp. When Deemus was released on CD in 1997, the year before Barrett died, I at first ignored it, but ultimately picked it up after becoming a fan of Chuck Hedges. This CD was a revelation. It is mellow and without an overabundance of the flashy drumming one might expect. After all, Deems was once billed as "the world's fastest drummer."
While Barrett takes a nice solo on After You've Gone, it is the late Chuck Hedges who really shines on this session. Chuck was a mainstay at Andy's Jazz Club in Chicago for many years with his own Swingtet and was one of the greats on clarinet. Don DeMichael, one time editor of Down Beat, ably handles the vibes.
This session is very reminiscent of some of Benny Goodman's sextet recordings. With tunes like Seven Come Eleven and Six Appeal, the Goodman comparison is inevitable and the music heard here does not suffer by comparison. This CD is small group swing at its best.