It's hard to say those two words next to each other and not smile, says John Ellis about Puppet Mischief, the title of the saxophonist's latest album with his band Double-Wide, to be released Feb. 23rd on ObliqSound. That statement -- and the images conveyed by the album's intriguing title -- applies equally to the music within. Puppet Mischief, which draws its inspiration from the rich vein of music the city of New Orleans has given the world, exudes an air of delight and exhilaration.
Another considerable chunk of the music's inspiration, confirms Ellis, comes from carnivals, state fairs, children laughing, clowns and dancing. But that's not to imply that the album is one big Big Easy grin -- some of the tracks, in fact, mine emotions at the opposite end of the feel-good spectrum, and there are moments when somber solidly trumps giddy. But listening to Ellis and his superb cast of musicians there's never any doubt that this band reveled in the experience of creating this music. Just as New Orleanians don't mourn death so much as celebrate a life -- with brass bands that take to the streets and blow -- Puppet Mischief is all about affirmation and rejoice. This band is serious, Ellis says, who also produced the recording, but serious fun.