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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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Recently Discovered Late Vintage Colyer

Upbeat URCD271







1. When You and I Were Young Maggie

2. There’s Yes Yes in Your Eyes*

3. New Iberia Blues*

4. My Life Will Be Sweeter Some Day*

5. Salutation March*

6. Storyville Blues (a.k.a. Those Draftin’ Blues)*

7. Sing On*

8. Swanee River

9. Bye and Bye

10. Home Sweet Home/Auf Weidersehn

Ken Colyer – Cornet, vocal (tracks 8 and 9)

George Berry – Clarinet, tenor sax (track 7)

Mike Pointon – Trombone

Ray Foxley – Piano

John Griffith – Banjo

Alyn Shipton – Bass

Colin Bowden – Drums

Recorded at Langley Vale Village Hall, Epsom, Surrey, on Dec., 20, 1986.

*The tracks marked with an asterisk are also to be found on the DVD of this same concert (Upbeat URDVD267) along with four others not included on this CD. The other four tunes on this CD are issued for the first time. Unlike the sound on the DVD, that here is of good fidelity.

As I said in my review of the DVD, this is all pure Colyer, even though some two years earlier he had some serious health issues and had to give up leading his band. There is no hint of any difficulty here—his playing is as strong as ever, his ideas as interesting as always, and his technique sure, allowing for full expression without ever overwhelming any others. Whether playing lead, especially when muted, or backing others, he presents an object lesson in how it should be done. Unfortunately, Colyer’s vocals are a bit off-mike, making them hard to decipher. Although this was not the “classic” Ken Colyer band, it is a very respectable one, given the personnel, and as is, almost always the case, molded by Colyer into a “Colyer band.”

Some were members of previous Colyer outfits, including Bowden and Foxley, and Pointon had played with Colyer intermittently. The rhythm section keeps a fairly steady grip on tempos, with little of the rushing the Colyer bands were noted for. Shipton’s bass playing along with Griffith’s banjo plucking provide just the right floor under the front line. These three in the back line provide a solid platform for the front line to build on. Additionally, Foxley’s cleanly articulated piano playing on his solos, all of which provide a treat for the ears and mind, and sympathetic backing of the others, further contributes to the overall excellence of this back line. And, of course, there is Bowden. Whether playing on the snare, the rims, or providing the tom accents as he so often does, he stimulates those in front of and on either side of him.

None of the tunes are exactly warhorses, but all will be familiar to Colyer fans—one could say this is a typical Colyer outing—as they will be to all jazz fans. There are the blues (New Iberia and Storyville), spirituals (My Life, Sing On, and Bye and Bye) and the pop songs (of an earlier day, and all amenable to a jazz treatment, such as they get here). So all tastes are catered to with a little over seventy minutes of first rate traditional jazz.

This is another CD that belongs on everyone’s Colyer shelf. Again we are indebted to Upbeat and Liz Biddle for making it available, contributing once more to the British traditional jazz archives.

More information is available at the Upbeat web site,

Bert Thompson

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