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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

British Jazz Legends


Decca 470 271-2

Amazon UK 

  1. Sometimes I’m Happy
  2. S’Wonderful
  3. Frankie & Johnny
  4. Body & Soul
  5. Squiggles
  6. That’s My Home
  7. Love Me or Leave Me
  8. I’m Confessin’
  9. The Green Leaves of Summer
  10. Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
  11. Me & Buck
  12. Buona Sera
  13. I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate
  14. Sometimes I’m Happy (reprise)

John Chilton’s Feetwarmers

John Vinten – Piano, Kenny Baldock – Bass, Eddie Taylor – Drums.

Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band

Colin Wood – Piano, Tucker Finlayson – Bass, Ritchie Bryant – Drums

Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band

Kathy Stobart – Tenor & Baritone, Jimmy Hastings – Alto, Pete Strange – Trombone, Ted Beament – Piano, Mick Hutton – Bass, Adrian McIntosh – Drums

Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen

Hugh Ledigo – Piano, John Benson – Bass, Nick Millward – Drums, John Bennett – Trombone, Andy Cooper – Clarinet

George Melly – Vocals

Don Lusher – Trombone

John Dankworth Alto & Clarinet

What a pleasant surprise this record turned out to be. I was expecting that it would be ancient recordings from the classic British bands dating back to God knows when. I was quite wrong however, this session took place in July 2001 and it sounds like it was great fun. All the musicians were in the studio together and a number of them had played in the other of the bands previously, it must have been like ‘old homes week’.

As an example Eddie Taylor, who on this occasion was with John Chiltern’s Band, has played previously with the John Dankworth Seven and was for many years a stalwart of Humph’s Band.

John Dankworth and Don Lusher float between various ensembles, Dankworth plays a nice solo version of Body and Soul with Ted Beamont out of Humph’s band and Kenny Baldock and Eddie Taylor from the Feetwarmer’s.

The tunes are all ‘good old good ones’ and whilst stylistically there is quite a difference between performers, it all goes together very well. Don Lusher, who I have always regarded as the ultimate Big Band Lead Bone player, fits in well and his big tone and smooth style are great assets in any band. S’Wonderful has Kenny Ball, Acker, John Dankworth and Don Lusher with the Chiltern band, in what turns out to be quite a swinging affair.

George Melly is one of the great characters of the British Jazz scene, I have just finished re-reading ‘Owning Up’ a book he wrote about his time with the Mick Mulligan Band and a very interesting and amusing read it was too. Frankie & Johnny has always been associated with George and I’m sure that if he did not do it on concerts, he would get so many requests that he may as well do it anyway!

Squiggles shows of the Lyttelyon Band to good effect, with nice solos all round, the arrangement presumably by Pete Strange makes the band sound larger than it really is.

It was good to hear the Alto playing of Jimmy Hastings, one of the most under-rated of British jazz players as well as Kathy Stobart who is still the best female tenor player to date. Me & Buck, the second Lyttelton track is one of those blues tunes we have all played, but few of us know what it’s called. Humph used it for some years as the intro to his radio record programme on Monday evenings.

All the other bands perform well and for anyone who likes to listen without having to concentrate too much and we all need to do that sometimes, this album is ideal


Don Mather




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