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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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PAT HALCOX

Remembering Pat Halcox

LAKE LACD338

 

 

CD1; Mr Halcox & Mr Barber

New Orleans Hop Scop Blues

Who’s Sorry Now?

I Love My Baby

Old Stack O Lee

Blue Turning Grey Over You

The Mountains Of Mourne

Do Right Baby

Shine

Georgia On My Mind

Rent Party Blues

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Buddy Bolden's Blues

Some Of These Days

Blues On Trumpet

Oh Baby

Working Man Blues

Isle Of Capri

CD2: Pat Plays Away

With Colin Kingwell’s Jazz Bandits

Give Me Your Telephone Number

With Sonny Morris & The Delta Jazz Band

Wabash Blues

With Don Ewell

Rosetta

Confessin’

With Art Hodes

Tin Roof Blues

With Alex Welsh’s Band

I Found A New Baby

Undecided

With Humphrey Lyttelton’s Band

Blues For Humph

With The Pat Halcox All-Stars

Blue Orchid

Apple Honey

I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart

Recorded 1955-98 [79:35 + 75:45]


If ever a player deserved remembering it is Pat Halcox, the stalwart and imaginative trumpeter whose playing graced Chris Barber’s band for decades. He died in February 2013 and I have nothing but fantastic memories of his musicianship in concert and on disc. This double CD is genuinely a twofer – twofer the price of one – and it enshrines performances with Barber’s band on the first disc and a variety of ensembles in the companion disc. There’s so much going on here for devotees of Barber and of Halcox that a brief resume is the best course of action to direct listeners to this release’s many delights.

The tracks start c.1957 with a gully low Old Stackolee, reminiscent of Bechet and Albert Nicholas’s recording, with just Monty Sunshine alongside in the front line, Barber himself sitting things out. Slow blues was a real speciality. Barber also sits Blue Turning Grey Over You where Halcox joins with Alex Welsh on a live club date where Alex sings. Ottilie Paterson is a galvanizing presence on I Love My Baby where Pat’s muted obbligato keeps up the temperature, and also on a sensitively shaped The Mountains of Mourne. Talking of fellow brass players Halcox and Kenny Ball joust excitingly on Shine live from 1963 and, once more back in the bosom of the Barber band, shows in his slow spare playing on Georgia a fund of lyric-melancholic ideas conveyed via an almost tactile tone. In a number of these tracks Halcox fronts the band during a solo feature and thus we hear far more of him in concentrated fashion than had the usual solos been parcelled out amongst the whole front line. We hear him essay the flugelhorn in Somewhere Over The Rainbow with the accompaniment of Johnny McCallum, Vic Pitt and Norman Emberson. This first disc has varied personnel, eminent guests, and a fine spectrum of tunes and tempi, stretching in recording terms from 1955 to 1998.

The second disc has fewer, but longer tracks. He guests with Colin Kingwell in 1992 and with Sonny Morris four years later dovetailing very attractively, driven on by Colin Bowden at the drums. He slots into the Welsh band in 1980 perfectly, and it helps to have Jim Sheppard alongside and Don Ewell guesting at the piano stool. He is one of two star Americans in this second disc, the other being Art Hodes who plays entertainingly on Tin Roof Blues, where Wally Fawkes’ sinewy playing is a tonic. Pat even steps into Lyttelton’s shoes in Blues for Humph where the latter’s band provides support, although Malcolm Emerson is prone to some naughty quotations - something of a feature, it has to be said, of the Barber band itself. There are some very engaging examples of Halcox’s work from the 1960s to the 80s in this second half of the second disc, but I should warn prospective listeners that my copy has a track listing problem. What you see is not what you hear; Some of these Days and Undecided have swapped places and so have several other tracks. But if you can navigate through this you’ll enjoy Bruce Turner, the flexible if slightly erratic (but interesting) pianist Roger Munns, and much else besides.

All these tracks are previously unreleased so this is no compilation of studio-bound sides. Sound quality is inevitably variable, given the in-concert nature of some tracks, but never less than listenable and often extremely fine. The notes are outstanding and there is a fine selection of small but excellently reproduced photographs. This is a most rewarding and heart-warming selection.

Jonathan Woolf



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