Hot 8 trombonist Joseph “Shotgun Joe” Williams was unarmed when he was killed at the age of 22 by the New Orleans Police Department, an incident documented in Matt Sakakeeny’s book, Roll With It, however no reasonable explanation has ever been provided. The album’s liner notes address the New Orleans tradition of celebrating life after death, in this case the spirit of “Shotgun Joe” lives on in Raymond “Dr. Rackle” Williams’ tune while calling out for justice and accountability.
Despite the bebop influence of “Dr. Rackle,” this tune is simply a minor ii-V7 progression. What should be noted about either Gregory Veals or Corey Payton’s trombone solo, however, is the evenness in its playing, relying on a steady airstream for dexterity over the partials as well as for supporting the sixteenth-note patterns. Likewise, the solid stream allows for the high notes to be played in succession without exhaustion. Patient phrasing creates a dramatic release of tension and steam-whistle pressure in a sorrowful cry.
Recommended reading: Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans by Matt Sakakeeny. Published by Duke University Press.