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



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British Traditional Jazz at a Tangent

Volume 7:
The Chicago-Dixieland Style Bands

CARLO KRAHMER'S
CHICAGOANS

 

 

At Sundown

Riverboat Shuffle

Sugar

That Da-Da Strain

ARCHIE SEMPLE’S CAPITOL JAZZ BAND

Singing The Blues

There’ll Be Some Changes Made

Farewell Blues

THE MARK WHITE DIXIELANDERS

Davenport Blues

Jazz Me Blues

Tin Roof Blues

Dardanella

BOBBY MICKLEBURGH’S BOBCATS

Sunday

Fidgety Feet

At The Jazz Band Ball

I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate

JOE DANIELS AND HIS JAZZ BAND

Washington & Lee Swing

Barnyard Blues

Black & Blue

Spain

LAURIE GOLD AND HIS PIECES OF EIGHT

Miss Jenny’s Ball

I Left My Sugar Standing In The Rain

Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland

Sensation Rag

SID PHILLIPS AND HIS BAND

Avalon

Recorded 1946-60

LAKE LACD341 [78:14]

Volume seven of this series continues the excellence already established by earlier releases. It’s dedicated to Chicagoan and Dixieland style bands and covers the years from 1946 to 1960 and whilst the bands, or some of them, may seem less well-known there are some first rate and well-known figures lurking in the ranks.

British jazz fans have much for which to thank Carlo Krahmer. Co-founder of Esquire records he was sympathetic to Bop but loved earlier styles. Sitting at the drum stool he propels the band with authority – the first 1946 band here including a technically frail and emphatically on-the-beat Humphrey Lyttelton, the easy swinging and now forgotten tenor player, Ernie Mansfield, and a young Johnny Dankworth. By the following year Humph was showing the class that was soon to propel him to fame and with Eddie Harvey, Ronnie Chamberlain (always a pleasure to hear), the sophisticated stylist Dill Jones and Vic Lewis the band was first-class. But it’s the arrival of Jimmy McPartland with wife Marian in May 1949 that shows how the Condon aesthetic works, and what rhythmic relaxation could also entail. Jimmy also brought the concept of dynamics to the band. These opening four tracks start the ball rolling, and the ensuing music reveals much that was going on in British Jazz of this particular style through the 1950s.

There’s Alex Welsh, of course, but not with his own band but playing in Archie Semple’s Capitol Jazz Band. The sound, live, is hollow but there’s the embryo of the Welsh band here, for sure, even if Farewell Blues is – despite its title – somewhat remorselessly played. It’s exciting to hear the pre-war trumpet star Jack Jackson with a front line including Nobby Clarke, Sid Phillips and Mickey Lewis in 1949: if I add the further band members – Harry Gold, Jack Llewellyn, Will Hastings and Max Abrams – you can gauge the instrumental excellence to be heard in their laid-back reading of Davenport Blues. They fly under the name of The Mark White Dixielanders. This umbrella band also included one led by Kenny Ball with star trombonist George Chisholm. Joe Muddel, the bass player, died not so long ago. Mystery surrounds the keyboard which Paul Adams’s customarily thorough and excellent notes describe as a harpsichord, or maybe celesta. If so, it was a very odd one. It’s certainly nothing like the one Johnny Guarnieri used in the Gramercy Five. As for Chisholm, he takes a none-too-serious solo in Tin Roof Blues. The star of the remainder of the records is trumpeter Alan Wickham, whose fine lead is heard to great advantage in the bands of Bobby Mickleburgh, Joe Daniels and Laurie Gold. It’s good to hear Paul Simpson, a Pee Wee devotee from the sound of it, and the ‘Back to the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’ approach of Joe Daniels in Barnyard Blues. Though they’re not over-burdened with solos, listen out for two other stars – Don Lusher and Vic Ash – who both are suavely alluring in Spain, another Joe Daniels side. Laurie and Harry Gold were catalysts for much good music, but often unfairly taken for granted. They could also spot talent, and employed pianist Lennie Felix for a while, whom it’s great to hear again.

There’s a lot going on in this 24-track CD. The Chicago and Dixieland styles allowed some room for manoeuvre, from freewheeling to more sedately controlled so listen to established stars and less well-known exponents of the art here. Let me pay my own private salute to the band selection and the restorations, which can’t all have been easy. Devotees of British Jazz of this period should make every effort to support this series.

Jonathan Woolf



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