Michael Steinman - Album Review
"Kid Ory hasn’t really opened his California jazz club, nor has he come back in the flesh. But his music has, joyously and intelligently.
This cheerful development in the twenty-first century is the handiwork of drummer, scholar, and bandleader Hal Smith, who’s been playing gigs with his ON THE LEVEE JAZZ BAND, which focuses on lively renditions of the music Ory played in the middle and later stages of his career..." READ FULL REVIEW
Ricky Riccardi - OTL Jazz Band
"Traditional New Orleans Jazz comes in many varieties and flavors, but no one has ever quite mastered the swinging, yet punchy feel of Kid Ory's popular bands of the 1940s and 1950s--until the appearance of the On the Levee Jazz Band. From the very beginning notes of their new CD, I marveled at how they captured the Ory sound, yet also made it the own, something that sounds fresh and vital and just as joyous in 2018 as it did in 1958. Part of the reason is the truly all-star make up of the group, a lineup of powerhouse players that represent the best of today's traditional jazz scene from coast to coast. It's a dream lineup and hearing them tackle this repertory is a dream come true for this jazz fan. I haven't stopped listening to the On the Levee Jazz Band's new album for the past week and it's kicking my ass all over place!"
Director of Research Collections
Louis Armstrong House Museum
Author of WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later years
John McCusker - Author of Creole Trombone, Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz
"This is a wonderful band rooted in the ensemble dynamics and style of Kid Ory. And like the Ory band each player is given space to add their respective variations to each chorus whether a rollicking out chorus or a soft one where you can hear the people’s feet on the dance floor as Ory used to quip. These are top musicians laying down beautiful music in a spirit as vital today as the morning Ory first traveled to New Orleans in 1905 to buy a new horn at Werlein's for music."
Neville Dickie - Album Review
"Hal Smith re-created the Ory band to perfection. Ben Polcer displays his forceful and formidable technique throughout, whilst Goldberg recalls the liquid tone of the great Joe Darensbourg. Kris Tokarski is obviously Morton-inspired (Wolverine Blues) and on Maple Leaf Rag, he pays tribute to the great Don Ewell - another inspiration of his. Multi-instrumentalist Clint Baker was the perfect choice for the Ory role, prodding and punching the beat... CONTINUE READING
Scott Yanow - Album Review
"The 14 selections are all taken from Ory’s repertoire on his Good Time Jazz recordings with the highlights including jubilant versions of “Original Dixieland One Step,” “Wolverine Blues,” “Royal Garden Blues” and “Panama.” Actually all of the performances are quite enjoyable. The band even explodes now and then going into the final chorus just as Ory and Alcorn used to. Fans of Kid Ory, New Orleans jazz, and joyful music in general will certainly want this excellent outing..." CONTINUE READING
Michael Steinman - Swinging for the Kid
"Edward Ory — that’s the Kid to those of us who admire and keep his name and music alive — is a fabled figure. His 1925-28 Chicago recordings with Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Luis Russell, Johnny Dodds, Lil Hardin, George Mitchell, Jelly Roll Morton, Ma Rainey, even Tiny Parham are bedrock masterpieces of the pre-World War Two jazz canon, and many bands celebrate them. But the California climate — whether you consider the ground-breaking 1922 recordings or the evidence..." CONTINUE READING
Dr. Norman Vickers- Dear OTL Jazz Band
"It was great fun, personally, to be involved in this project. I certainly agree, the music was wonderful. Thanks for all the effort you put, personally, toward the project. Thanks to the individual members for their skill, performance and enthusiasm. Yes, for the most part, our audience “really listened!” And, our audience got a musical history lesson, too, without their realizing it! Thanks again, Hal, both personally and on behalf of Jazz Pensacola to you and your outstanding musical group! You enriched our lives!"