Disc One: Mr. Halcox & Mr. Barber
1. New Orleans Hop Scop Blues
2. Who’s Sorry Now?
3. I Love My Baby
4. Old Stackolee
5. Blue Turning Grey over You
6. The Mountains of Mourne
7. Do Right Baby
9. Georgia on My Mind
10. Rent Party Blues
11. Somewhere over the Rainbow
12. Buddy Bolden’s Blues
13. Some of These Days
14. Blues on Trumpet
15. Oh Baby
16. Working Man Blues
17. Isle of Capri
Recorded between 1955 and 1998, no locations given.
Disc Two: Pat Plays Away
with Colin Kingwell’s Jazz Bandits
1. Give Me Your Telephone Number
with Sonny Morris & the Delta Jazz Band
2. Wabash Blues
with Don Ewell
with Art Hodes
5. Tin Roof Blues
with Alex Welsh’s Band
6. I Found a New Baby
with Humphrey Lyttelton’s Band
8. Blues for Humph
with the Pat Halcox All-Stars
9. Blue Orchid
10. Apple Honey
11. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
Recorded between 1964 and 1996, no locations given.
All tracks previously unissued.
Pat Halcox – Cornet, trumpet, or flugelhorn on all tracks
Others too numerous to list here, but all data given in the CD booklet.
Jazz has had several memorable musical partnerships, including those of Oliver/Armstrong, Armstrong/Teagarden, Ellington/Strayhorn, Brubeck/Desmond,
Lyttelton/Fawkes among others, that engendered some exquisite music. Few, if any, however, have outlasted the fifty-odd years of the Pat Halcox/Chris
Barber collaboration. This set is not so much a celebration of that alliance as it is a showcase for the talents of Mr. Halcox, so there is not much of the
two of them playing together on these discs, despite the title of the first, “Mr. Halcox & Mr. Barber.”
The first of these two discs presents selections from the first five decades of the Barber band—there are none from the 2000s prior to Halcox’s retirement
in 2008 from full time playing with the band due to health issues from Parkinson’s disease, although he did not give up playing entirely at that time. Only
five of these selections include both Barber and Halcox, the others being various combinations of personnel from the Barber band, all supporting Halcox.
None of these tracks has been previously issued.
In the Chris Barber band of 1953, Halcox had played cornet but was reluctant to “go pro” when the others did, being replaced by Ken Colyer, who had just
returned to some acclaim from a visit to New Orleans where he played with some of the pioneers of the revival, ending with a stint in the New Orleans jail
for overstaying his visa. A year or so later, as most people know, the band left Colyer, and Halcox, now prepared to take the professional plunge,
rejoined. The first cut, a hard driving New Orleans Hop Scop Blues, is from the next year, 1955, and is a tune seldom played by traditional jazz
bands. On it Halcox plays cornet in a tight front line, as he did for the first year or two before switching to trumpet, and he displays some of the fairly
broad vibrato that was part of his technique at that time. With his change to trumpet, the vibrato diminished somewhat, as we hear on the second number, Who’s Sorry Now? which, apart from the coda, is largely a solo vehicle for Halcox, accompanied only by the rhythm section. He is equally adept
with slower tempos, of course. I have never heard Working Man Blues played this slowly—but it comes off, and I like to think Messrs. Oliver and
Armstrong would have approved.
Halcox was also a masterful accompanist for vocalist Ottilie Patterson as is demonstrated on the up-tempo I Love My Baby, and the languid The Mountains of Mourne where his backing is incredibly sympathetic, never overpowering her voice. His obbligatos masterfully complement her
phrasing and intonation. (Perhaps because this rendition is from a live performance, Patterson’s vocal is less intimate here than it is on the studio
version, and although I usually opt for the live performances, of the two I prefer that of the studio. Halcox, however, is superb on both.) His own vocal
talent was not inconsiderable, as Do Right Baby attests, and his growling and bending of notes on it set the right tone for the blues before his
vocal. This track also illustrates his facility in all the ranges of the trumpet, as does Shine where he engages in some friendly competition with
Kenny Ball in the upper register before both launch into a harmonized coda.
As well as attacking tunes vigorously on occasion, Halcox can be very subdued, witness the lead he lays down on Georgia on My Mind. It is
incredibly tender—even wistful—as he plays the first chorus softly, unaccompanied, in the middle and low registers. He continues in this vein after being
joined by the rhythm section, but when he rejoins them after they have led through the chorus following his, he raises the volume a little and moves toward
the upper range of his horn before coming back down to a hushed close. On another track, Somewhere over the Rainbow, he virtually caresses it on
flugelhorn. He is, indeed, a man for all occasions.
The second disc contains tracks recorded with Halcox guesting with various groups—some full bands, others smaller combos. As was the case with the first
disc, none of these tracks has been issued previously. Halcox wears several hats on this disc, and all fit him quite comfortably. The New Orleans style is
in his comfort zone as the first two tracks, Give Me Your Telephone Number and Wabash Blues, indicate. However, other tracks, such as I Found a New Baby and Undecided, also illustrate his facility with the Chicago style of the Condon bands; and Blues for Humph
shows him at ease with the mainstream style of the Lyttelton Band when Halcox deputized for the ailing Lyttelton. The last three tracks, Blue Orchid, Apple Honey, and I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart feature Halcox leading members of other bands who would get
together in various configurations each summer during their respective bands’ “vacations” and indulge in vehicles the likes of which their “regular” bands
did not afford—ballads such as Blue Orchid and I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart or an exciting big band number, such as Woody Herman’s Apple Honey here, where the seven musicians did indeed sound more like a big band than a septet and could stretch out in extended solos. They made
some recordings as the Pat Halcox All Stars, and apparently were also known, appropriately, as Pat’s Summer Band.
So these two discs form a fitting remembrance of Pat Halcox as well as demonstrate just how wide his range could be. They also serve as a reminder of how
the jazz world was diminished by his passing.