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Remembering Pat Halcox

Lake LACD338



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

8. Shine


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

3. Rosetta

4. Confessin’

with Art Hodes

5. Tin Roof Blues

with Alex Welsh’s Band

6. I Found a New Baby

7. Undecided

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.

Bert Thompson

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