Ted Unseth and the Americana Classic Jazz Orchestra | 20th Anniversary Concert with Benny Waters

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Jazz: Big Band Jazz: Stride Moods: Instrumental
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20th Anniversary Concert with Benny Waters

by Ted Unseth and the Americana Classic Jazz Orchestra

Special Guests for this album: 91 year-old Benny Waters--he blew everyone away. Also the best Stride Piano specialist ever, Butch Thompson; and Duke Ellington Orchestra alumna, Shirley Witherspoon. Unique repertoire, found nowhere else in the world.
Genre: Jazz: Big Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lunceford tag
0:37 $0.99
2. The Way I Feel Today
2:46 $0.99
3. Mood Indigo
6:47 $0.99
4. Toby
4:41 $0.99
5. Benny's Blue Waters
7:40 $0.99
6. Peace And Love For All
5:13 $0.99
7. Paul Gonsalves/Crescendo In Blue
10:40 $0.99
8. Ted Thank You/Breuker tag
1:36 $0.99
9. Bernie and Gregg Thank You
0:14 $0.99
10. Ted Unseth Interview
1:33 $0.99
11. Leigh Kamman Commentary
2:42 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
I'd been thinking about a 20th Anniversary of the CJO project for a couple of years and when I read in the paper that Benny Waters was alive and back in the US after 40 years in Europe, I got excited about possibilities.

This is the same Benny Waters who performed on several historic recordings with the Clarence Williams Orchestra in the late 1920's--material the original WCJO transcribed and performed. One thing leads to another and I find myself booking 91year-old Benny Waters for the 20th Anniversary gig--amazing!

Add local TC legends Butch Thompson and Shirley Witherspoon and some of the finest local TC jobbing musicians (unsung heroes)--everyone went the extra mile to make these concerts one-of-a-kind. We had one full band rehearsal and I swear it was the best rehearsal I'd ever had.

The concerts were wonderfully attended and there was real Magic created that weekend. My thanks to all who helped make it such a Special Occasion--most especially the amazing Benny Waters.

The history of the Wolverines CJO/Americana CJO from its inception to present-day is in Three Parts:
1. 1973-1980--Original Name: Wolverines Classic Jazz Orchestra (WCJO). Ted Unseth, Founder/Sole Owner.
2. 1980-1984--Partnership Years.
3. 1984-Present: Renamed: Americana Classic Jazz Orchestra (ACJO). Ted Unseth Owner/Director.

The Spirit lives on. Support your Local Musicians.

Ted Unseth



to write a review

Bob Protzman

91 year old Benny Waters steals the show!
St. Paul Pioneer Press
October 18, 1993

Concert Review
Benny Waters steals the show, and all that jazz
Bob Protzman Staff Writer

Only someone as dedicated to the 1920’s-30’s early big band music and as enthusiastic and generous in sharing it as former Twin Citian Ted Unseth, would hire someone practically guaranteed to upstage his own efforts.
Unseth, who left the Twin Cities for Washington, DC in 1990, was back home over the weekend to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his founding here of the Wolverines Classic Jazz Orchestra.
Unseth’s WCJO--not to be confused with the current Wolverines Big Band—provided many nights of pleasure for local audiences for a number of years at various venues, and it was a joy to hear the band again Friday night at the Dakota Bar and Grill in St. Paul under its new name, the Americana Classic Jazz Orchestra. The 13-member ACJO also played Saturday at the Dakota.
The ACJO gave a polished, entertaining performance, playing ‘hot jazz’ songs and arrangements by Fletcher Henderson, Jimmie Lunceford, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and others. But as enjoyable as the ACJO’s recreations of Jazz Age music were, it was 91-year-old saxophonist-vocalist Benny Waters who stole the show.
Waters, you see, was there during the Roaring ‘20’s playing with the bands of Henderson and Lunceford. And here he was in the Dakota Atrium still playing and singing with incredible gusto, probably very much as he had those many decades ago.
Little known—primarily because he lived in Europe for 40 years before returning to the United States several years ago—Waters was a revelation.
Though he has diminished sight and needs some assistance in walking, once on the bandstand, he is amazingly vital. So is his music. Backed empathetically and skillfully by the rhythm section of the ACJO (Butch Thompson, piano; Tim Sparks, guitar; Ron Evaniuk, bass; Phil Hey, drums) Waters’ alto was both sweet and robust—if occasionally a bit blustery.
And despite a few clinkers, he played lines that seemed to skip merrily along. He sang and scatted in a deep baritone, somewhat remindful of the great Al Hibler. And he charmed everyone with his keen sense of humor.
His 45-minute set included “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”, “Misty”, a full-of-fun blues title “Hurry On Down To See Me, Baby”, a bossa nova version of “Autumn Leaves”, his own slow blues “Benny’s Blue Waters”, and the closing “Lady Be Good”, played at a very fast tempo.
There were too many highlights in the Americana Classic Jazz Orchestra’s set to include here. One was the richness of horns on “I Ain’t Got Nobody”; another was Thompson’s playing on “Basie’s Boogie”, a terrific jump tune.
The full band sounded wonderful—chirping clarinets, trilling brass and Hey’s drumming on the hi-hat cymbals—on the intricately arranged “The Whiteman Stomp”.
And special guest vocalist Shirley Witherspoon was at her best, wailing on the low-down “Hungry Blues” and ebullient on “Swing Brother, Swing” featuring trumpeter Bernie Edstrom’s fine plunger-mute solo.

Nat Hentoff, world-reknowned Jazz journalist

Your ACJO sure has 'fire'!
"Thank you very much for your Americana Classic Jazz Orchestra CD. I'll tell you it lifted me up and it sure has 'fire'. Boy, it was great hearing Benny Waters! I got the Spirit and that's the Spirit of the music of Jazz in your band."