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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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The MAN OVERBOARD
QUINTET

Down in the Deep Deep Blue

CHAMPS HILL RECORDS
CHRCD089

 

 

  1. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
  2. Sister Sadie
  3. Trav'lin All Alone
  4. New Orleans Wiggle
  5. Imagination
  6. I Hate Myself For Being Mean To You
  7. Me And My Gin
  8. I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight
  9. Carelessly
  10. Jubilee Stomp
  11. Good Morning Heartache
  12. Limehouse Blues
  13. Dirty TB Blues
  14. I Wish That I Were Twins
  15. If My Heart Could Only Talk
  16. What A Little Moonlight Can Do.

Louisa Jones (vocals); Ewan Bleach (clarinet, vocals); Thomas Gould (violin, backing vocals); Jean-Marie Fagon (guitar, vocals); Dave O'Brien (double bass, backing vocals)

Recorded February 2014, Music Room, Champs Hill, West Sussex, UK [66:44]


This stimulating set of 16 tracks provides further evidence of the ingenious and generous-hearted work of The Man Overboard Quintet, whose second disc this is. Thomas Gould is primus inter pares, a classical violinist with pluralist tastes in jazz and popular music, whilst Ewan Bleach is his clarinettist front-line partner; Jean-Marie Fagon is the guitarist who, along with bassist Dave O’Brien motors the two-man rhythm section. Louisa Jones is the solo vocalist.

Gould occupies more the Grappelli-Venuti spectrum than, say, Stuff Smith or Ray Nance. He plays a zippy solo on Please Don’t Talk About Me where he and Bleach trade nicely and Louisa Jones sings pipingly on-the-beat. Taking on Horace Silver’s Sister Sadie shows that the band likes a soulful groove but doesn’t feel shackled by preconceptions that they are a revivalist ensemble essaying only tunes from the 20s and 30s. There are New Orleans hints in Bleach’s clarinet work and Gould here shows his Blues mettle propelled by taut rhythmic backing. There’s no attempt to replicate Billie Holiday’s vocals in Travlin’ All Alone: here Jones sings prettily and without overmuch heartache.

One especially valuable thing about their song choices is the way they absorb the original material. New Orleans Wiggle could be seen as specialist fare but the band plays it with absolute assurance as to its stylistic roots – never slavish, ever imaginative. Me and My Gin is Classic Blues singing territory but Jones is certainly not about to emulate Bessie Smith; note, however, the varied obbligato provided by Gould’s pizzicati. The band is most like the Quintet of the Hot Club of France in Jubilee Stomp and Limehouse Blues, both full of infectious and unstoppable swing, and in What A Little Moonlight Can Do – another song associated with Billie – the two influences come melded together, though as in the case of the Bessie Smith pieces, Louisa Jones occupies a very different, light, expressively rather neutral vocal stance. If My Heart Could Only Talk is a charming ballad and adds variety, as do the vocal backings from the band which are of the salty ‘we’ll do our best’ kind.

This is an enjoyable album, excellently recorded; the tune selection is resourceful and the arrangements are never predictable.

Jonathan Woolf



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