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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



Lew Stone.

The Best of Lew Stone and the Monseigneur Band 1932-34

Recorded London, 1932-34

CLAVES CD 50-9812 [66.44]




1. Radio Announcement/Oh Susannah/Goodbye Blues
2. Lying in the Hay
3. Blue Jazz
4. A Brivelle der Mama
5. My Woman
6. Junkman Blues
7. Look what I’ve got
8. You’ll always be the same sweetheart to me
9. I can’t write the words
10. Brighter than the sun
11. Milenberg Joys
12. Oh! Mr Moon
13. Eadie was a Lady
14. Nagasaki
15. Weep no more my baby
16. White Jazz
17. Canadian Capers
18. The World is so small
19. Call of the Freaks
20. Tiger Rag
21. I Hate Myself
22. Garden of Weed
23. Rain, rain go away
Lew Stone and the Monseigneur Band

Lew Stone’s was one of the most inventive and accomplished of all British Dance Bands. True it took in novelty and pastiche as well as the vogue for Yiddish songs – there’s a swanee whistle solo on Junkman Blues and Al Bowlly does a Sophie Tucker on A Brivelle der Mama – but it was comprised of some of the finest talents on the London jazz scene. It helped that Stone was himself a pianist and arranger of character – he’d worked for Ambrose before forming his own band - and he had the guts to refuse record companies’ strong hints that he should drop novelty vocalists. In any case Bowlly was, with Sam Browne, the most famous and admired of vocalists and added lustre to the many sides he made with Stone, as he had with Roy Fox’s band.

Unfortunately there is no personnel listing so those unfamiliar with the band will have to eke out clues from the quoted comments of former players reprinted in the booklet. It helps to know that Nat Gonella takes most of the trumpet breaks and that the superb trombonist is Lew Davis, who takes a roaring solo on White Jazz. Joe Crossman is the suave alto player, along with section mates Ernest Ritte and Harry Berly (who was also a highly regarded classical violist and died tragically young – Lionel Tertis’ favourite student killed himself under the wheels of a London underground train). The band was pushed on by a good rhythm section – Tiny Winters on bass (he of the falsetto vocals) and the enthusiastic but sometimes unsubtle Bill Harty (hear him splash about in Milenberg Joys).

Above all we can admire the blend and colour the band produced and also the unusual effects; the parade ground cornet style on Blue Jazz, the Casa Loma influenced orchestrations, the muted straight trumpet and clarinet arabesques in You’ll always be the same sweetheart to me, or the adventurous use of Reginald Forsythe’s advanced Call of the Freaks and Garden of Weed – impressionistic and ahead of their time.

The transfers are the work of Andrew Walter. In the main they’re fine but there are one or two instances of minimal blasting; on My Woman and Oh! Mr Moon for instance. No personnel listings as I said but this disc was extracted from a three CD Stone set from Claves – so maybe there was one there. But these are well chosen tracks (I’d however have ditched the anodyne Weep no more my baby) and admirers of the band will feel no pain listening to twenty-three sides. And Bowlly of course – wonderful as ever.

Jonathan Woolf

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