One of the more fascinating duos to make the rounds in the WNY region is that of Tyler Westcott and Brian “Dr. Jazz” Bauer. Each bridge a forty years age gap with an undying love for old-style jazz. Westcott calls their recently released new album, “Medical Record,” a collection of “old-timey jazz and blues tunes.” An indication of the unique fun and flair personality each brings to jazz.
The album was recorded in Buffalo by Ben Haravitch and Circus Tent Studio. The fun album artwork was designed by Alison Coté. The album was officially released on October 31st.
JazzBuffalo reached out to Tyler Westcott for a few brief questions. And, included in this article is a fabulous album review by musician and writer Greg Barresi. Barresi gives us an in-depth review of the musicians, their duet, and the music.
Let’s get started with hearing from Tyler Westcott:
JB: How did you two come up with the idea to record a CD?
Dr. Jazz and I have been playing together for years and I’ve wanted to have our act recorded for quite some time. Dr. Jazz was planning on having knee surgery and I wanted to get it done before he was out of commission for a while. Also, I’d been itching to work with Ben Haravitch and Circus Tent Studio.
JB: Why is it called “Medical Record”?
Because it’s good for what ails ya! “A vigorous and potent tonic” as my friend Brendan Gosson referred to it! Because the world is sick right and needs some healing. Also if you’ve ever been to a Dr. Jazz show he is full of puns and plays on words.
JB: How would you characterize the music you and Dr. Jazz perform?
Traditional jazz and blues or 20’s and 30’s style jazz and blues.
JB: What made recording the album fun?
We recorded it at my house. So it was very laid back. Ben Haravitch is professional and easy-going and wonderful to work with. We recorded it like a live show. Mostly only one take. No overdubs. Just a few mics
JB: How can people get access to the album and/or order a CD?
It’s streaming on all platforms where people listen to music online. But I like Bandcamp you can listen, download and purchase it there. For physical copies of the CD email me your mailing address at Tylerwestcottmusic@gmail.com and I can send my vemno/paypal info.
One of my personal favorites on the album gives a flavor of the fun “old-timey” style these two deliver:
What follows is the in-depth fabulous album review by Greg Barresi:
Album Review by Greg Barresi:
If you’ve never had the courage to brave Nietzsche’s in the light of day for Tyler Westcott and Dr. Jazz’s standing gig on Wednesdays at 6 pm you’ve been missing out on some serious fun. With their residency on pause due to Covid-19, the two have released a session they cut before the days of social distancing. If the pandemic has you nostalgic for old times, Medical Record is 45 minutes of hot jazz and it’s just what the doctor ordered.
The record consists of tunes from the infancy of jazz up through the late 1930s with a particular focus on blues-inflected repertoire from the period. It includes a few of the standards you’d expect from a trad-jazz act as well as a healthy dose from more obscure composers like Spencer Williams, whose tunes make up a third of the album.
Westcott takes vocal duties and accompanies on guitar and banjo while Dr. Jazz switches between clarinet, tenor, and soprano saxophones. Although guitar/banjo and reed duets were not unheard of in the 1920s and ’30s, few period recordings of such combos exist. By that token alone, the cuts on Medical Record are not just carbon copies of the originals. More than checking all the boxes (which to be sure, they do) the duo breathes fresh air into these songs and keeps the spirit of the music alive.
After more than a hundred gigs together the two have a fluid sense of time and tempo. They slow and pick up steam like a train making its way over varied landscapes trying desperately to stay on schedule. They push the already caffeinated pace of “Cake Walking Babies From Home” to its limit in the outro as they barrel downhill, sure to come off the rails, and pull the brake at the last moment leaving us, the passengers, relieved and exhilarated.
Westcott growls, whines, and shouts, in credible imitation of the early bluesmen and women he obviously reveres. He is both amusing and endearing as he slurs his speech in a few fast-talking sections with a sort of good-natured lubrication. As entertaining as this is, he’s at his best when he lets down his guard and invites us to hear the more vulnerable tone of his clear tenor.
As an accompanist, Westcott draws on the styles of a wealth of players to create the effect of a larger ensemble. Django Reinhardt, Blind Blake, and Teddy Bunn likely never crossed paths or had the opportunity to influence each other but through Westcott’s ears, we hear the synthesis of their varying approaches. His comping is lively and constantly shifting to give the solos new terrain to explore every few bars.
Throughout the record, Dr. Jazz sticks satisfyingly close to the melody. His phrasing is playful and exciting even when stating the theme. As the tunes progress, he introduces colorful variations decorated with glissandos and other vaudevillian hijinks that remind us how much fun music can be. Every solo is a delightful trip in which he always finds a way to circle back home so the listener never loses track of where they’re going or where they’ve been.
Significantly, Medical Record is the most comprehensive recording to date of Dr. Jazz’s masterly reed work. His career has spanned decades including stage or studio work with Leon Redbone, Bonnie Raitt, David Bromberg, and countless local acts. While he has led numerous groups over the years including his current project, Dr. Jazz and the Jazzbugs, he has never released any work as a bandleader that would feature his playing so extensively. The man is a regional treasure and our out of town friends are lucky to finally have a recording we can give them so they can hear it for themselves.
Now in his 70’s, Dr. Jazz plays with a refined excitement that could convince a listener that hot jazz is, in fact, his native tongue. More than 40 years his junior, Tyler Westcott is a worthy counterpart with a powerful feel for the past and an untold future ahead. Their new album is historic preservation without the musty museum smell and the joyful account of a missed connection that never was.