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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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Volume 2 - featuring Clinton Ford




  1. Big Bear Stomp
  2. Daddy Do
  3. Sage Hen Strut
  4. The Mooche
  5. Hiawatha Rag
  6. Creole Love Call
  7. Swipesy Cakewalk
  8. Whitewash Man
  9. Grandpa's Spells
  10. Working Man Blues
  11. That's A-Plenty
  12. Memphis Blues
  13. Funky Butt
  14. Oh, By Jingo
  15. Wana
  16. Scott Joplin's New Rag
  17. I Wish't I Was In Peoria
  18. Get Out & Get Under
Merseysippi Jazz Band, with Clinton Ford (vocals)
LAKE LACD302 [58:19]


In this volume celebrating the Merseysippi Jazz Band we have the remaining discs made for Carlo Krahmer's Esquire label and an extra six tracks for Oriole, which include vocalist Clinton Ford.

The Esquires were made between 1954 and `55 and are excellent examples of the band's work. Stylistically the model was Lu Watters. The trumpet (actually trumpet and cornet) breaks are firm, the clarinet weaving an articulate line over and above them and the trombone front line. The trumpeter was Pete Daniels, the cornettist John Lawrence. The excellent clarinettist was Don Lydiatt, and the trombonist Frank Parr, ex-cricketer and subject of some of George Melly's funniest reminiscences. The rhythm section was solid.

Distribution of solos is democratic, though the arrangements dictate that there were fewer piano solos (Frank Robinson) than was perhaps ideal. When he does solo he can be impressive, as in Working Man Blues. The songs represented a lordly swathe of classics - Ellingtonia, Rags, Mortonia, Blues, and the like, some of it associated with the Watters band. Throughout, Lydiatt is the star performer, adopting an intricate Edmond Hall-like style, but his ensemble work is no less supportive than his expansive soloing. He certainly eschews the Bechet influence, which is not inappropriate given the band's absorption of Watters and Scobey's model-but it distinguished Lydiatt strongly from what Wally Fawkes was doing at the time.

It's interesting to hear a track such as That's A-Plenty in which we seem to hear a transitional compound of Watters and Eddie Condon's influence. There are booting solos all round, showing just how communicative and exciting a band this could be. And when longer sides were allowed, as was the case with Memphis Blues, the band took time to stretch out and to adjust their orchestrations accordingly. An intriguing feature of a couple of the Esquires is the retention of the voice of, I assume, Carlo Krahmer as he shouts out the take number before the band begins. Take four actually, as it turns out.

The Orioles came complete with a dreaded bout of echo, and also with Clinton Ford. He was a local Country and Western singer by trade, born Ian Harrison, and seemed to like jazz and vaudeville songs. These aren't very interesting for the band which coasts along with an ersatz-Dixie backing for much of the time, but the session has the benefit of being valuable for Merseysippi completists.

The rugged and exciting virtues of the band are certainly well paraded earlier in the disc, and can be strongly commended. Those Esquires sound pretty good here.

Jonathan Woolf

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