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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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DIZ DISLEY and his




  1. Hot Lips
  2. Burnadette's Blues
  3. Viper's Dream (version 1)
  4. Three Little Words
  5. Sweet Georgia Brown (version 1)
  6. Angry; Nuages
  7. Belleville
  8. I Saw Stars
  9. Sweet Sue
  10. Avalon
  11. Minor Swing (Version 1)
  12. You're Driving Me Crazy
  13. Honeysuckle Rose
  14. I Found A New Baby
  15. H.C.Q. Strut
  16. Swing 39
  17. Sheik Of Araby
  18. I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate
  19. Shine; Dinah
  20. Viper's Dream (version 2)
  21. Oui
  22. Sweet Georgia Brown (version 2)
  23. Minor Swing (version 2)

Diz Disley and his String Quintet
rec.1958-59 [71:46]


Diz Disley was immersed in the lexicon of the Quintette of the Hot Club of France and it was always his ambition to have a band that emulated their vibrant and swinging sound. His ambition was fulfilled in this 1958-59 group, which had exactly the same line-up as that of the classic French band.

The violinist was Dick Powell. Regrettably the personnel listing in the booklet gives his name as `Dick Power' which sounds positively pornographic. Spats Langham has it right in his enthusiastic liner note. The music is for the most part an expert `lived-in' recreation of the QHCF, and Diz's engaging humming along during his Djangoesque solos attests to his level of engagement with his material, much of it based on the French group's 78 recordings.

The recording balance favoured Disley and rather militated against Powell, so that his solos have a recessive quality, balance wise, that doesn't allow them to register with as much immediacy as they should. This is a shame because even though Powell wasn't the most original of improvisers, and even though he tended to stick in the lower register, and thus doesn't have much tonal variety, his contributions are well worth hearing. He's especially fluent in Three Little Words and plays a lovely obbligato in Dinah. The band's chugging string rhythm can be heard at its very best in Minor Swing where one senses how articulation and attack have been finely honed and chiselled to produce that invincible sound. Disley himself sings in a Louis-inspired way, cross-fertilized with Nat Gonella in the case of Dinah. He also plays amplified guitar on a couple of tracks, which obviously changes the purity of his sound, though some may like the brightness it produces (Spats Langham doesn't!).

There is a rare bass break for Tim Mahn, one of the three bassists used throughout the course of these sessions. Incidentally it would be remiss not to mention the names of the two rhythm guitarists, who were Danny Pursford and Nevil Skrimshire. I'm sure many a jazzer will have cause to think fondly of Skrimshire for his playing and his journalism.

The last four tracks, which include three remakes heard earlier, were made for Pye. There is a bit of reverb here, in that familiar way, though at least Powell is more centre stage in the sound spectrum.

I saw Disley several times in concert with Stephane Grappelli and it was always a pleasure. He was a real advocate and a nuanced practitioner. This well transferred disc pays proper salute to his spirit, and to his musicianship.

Jonathan Woolf

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