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Big Band and Drum Spectacular

Vocalion CDLK 4448



Big Band Spectacular
1. This Could be the Start of Something Big
2. My Hero
3. Hello, Dolly!
4. It's All Right with Me
5. Come Rain or Come Shine
6. Get Me to the Church on Time
7. Strike up the Band
8. Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)
9. Chicago
10. You Do Something to Me
11. St Louis Blues
12. So in Love
Drum Spectacular
13. Drum Spectacular
14. Drumboogie
15. Caravan
16. The Hawk Talks
17. Just You, Just Me
18. Topsy
19. Big Noise from Winnetka
20. Dual Carriageway
21. Afro-Charlie
22. South Rampart Street Parade
23. Portrait of Elvin
24. Talkin' about Drums

Big Band Spectacular
Kenny Baker, Eddie Blair, Stan Roderick, Bert Ezzard, Derek Healey, Albert Hall - Trumpets
Johnny Edwards, Wally Smith, Keith Christie, Ken Goldie - Trombones
Roy Willox, Alan Melly, Harry Klein, Bob Efford, Bill Skeat - Saxes
Alan Beaver, Eddie Mordue, Brian Ashe, Al Newman, Vic Ash - Woodwinds
John Burden, Jim Buck - Horns
Herbie Flowers - Tuba
Sam Fonteyn - Piano
Ike Isaacs - Guitar
Peter McGurk - Double bass
Ronnie Verrell - Drums
Stan Barrett - Vibes
Barry Morgan - Congas, bongoes
Bobby Midgley - Timpani, glockenspiel

Drum Spectacular
Tracks 16, 18, 20, 21
Kenny Baker, Eddie Blair, Stan Roderick, Kenny Wheeler - Trumpets
Keith Christie, Don Lusher, Johnny Marshall - Trombones
Jackie Armstrong - Bass trombone
Dougie Robinson, Roy Willox - Alto saxes
Tony Coe, Tubby Hayes - Tenor saxes
Don Honeywell - Baritone sax
Alan Branscombe - Piano
Freddy Logan - Bass
Kenny Clare, Ronnie Stephenson - Drums
Tracks 14, 17, 19, 22
Greg Bowen, Bert Ezzard, Ian Hamer, Kenny Wheeler - Trumpets
Keith Christie, Johnny Edwards, Nat Peck - Trombones
Jackie Armstrong - Bass trombone
Dougie Robinson, Ray Warleigh - Alto saxes
Tony Coe, Tubby Hayes - Tenor saxes
Don Honeywill - Baritone sax
Alan Branscombe - Piano
Lennie Bush - Bass
Kenny Clare, Ronnie Stephenson - Drums
Tracks 13, 15, 23
Greg Bowen, Leon Calvert, Stan Roderick, Kenny Wheeler - Trumpets
Laddie Busby, Nat Peck, Johnny Marshall - trombones
Jackie Armstrong - Bass trombone
Dougie Robinson, Ray Warleigh - Alto saxes
Art Ellefson, Ronnie Scott - Tenor saxes
Harry Klein - Baritone sax
Stan Tracey - Piano
Lennie Bush - Bass
Kenny Clare, Ronnie Stephenson - Drums
Track 24
Kenny Clare, Ronnie Stephenson - Drums


This album generously gets two LPs onto one CD lasting 77 minutes. The front cover makes it look as if drummers Kenny Clare and Ronnie Stephenson may be on both the LPs, but they are only on the album called Drum Spectacular, whereas Ronnie Verrell was the drummer on Big Band Spectacular, a series of arrangements by pianist Sam Fonteyn which used some, but not all, of the same musicians.

Both LPs date from 1966, when EMI was making the most of advances in recording with its "Studio 2 Stereo" series. The first twelve tracks on this album come from a session arranged by Sam Fonteyn, which consisted primarily of standards devised to highlight the stereo spread. The musicians included many of Britain's top jazzmen but the emphasis is on ensembles rather than solos.

Outstanding tracks on this LP include the frenetic It's All Right with Me, driven along by Barry Morgan's thrilling Latin percussion; Get Me to the Church on Time (with some sly quotes from the Wedding March); and You Do Something to Me, which has touches of Billy May about it. The arrangements are given variety by the inventive use of woodwind, French horns and tuba.

I have had the LP version of Drum Spectacular in my collection for years but, like many LPs, it seldom gets heard. As a drummer myself, I had high hopes of hearing it on CD, as it features two of Britain's most skilful drummers of the period: Kenny Clare and Ronnie Stephenson. They both played in John Dankworth's Orchestra - Ronnie following Kenny in that position in 1960. Clare later became renowned as one of the two drummers in the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland big band and both Kenny and Ronnie were regarded as dependable studio and touring musicians. The trouble with having two drummers in a band is that they may tread on one another's toes unless their roles are clearly delineated. On too many tracks here, the drummers create a rather cluttered sound when they play together.

Nonetheless, this album has its moments, with some of Britain's finest players in the band and some enterprising orchestrations by various arrangers. Some of the best arrangements are by Stan Tracey, including a compellingly Latin Caravan and Tracey's own composition Afro-Charlie. There are good drum breaks in Drumboogie and Tony Coe plays nice sidelong tenor solos in Just You, Just Me and Dual Carriageway. The album ends with a drum duet between Clare and Stephenson but their contributions are not sufficiently clear-cut, and there is no indication of which drummer is on which stereo channel.

Incidentally, Tony Middleton's sleeve-note says that Louie Bellson wrote The Hawk Talks as a salute to Harry James, but I always understood it was a tribute to Coleman Hawkins.

Tony Augarde

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