New Orleans Blues, Vol. 1


Texas Moaner Blues - 8.00 
Immigration Blues - 6.46 
Tishomingo Blues - 4.06 
Meet Me Where They Play the Blues - 4.53 
Basin Street Blues - 6.15 
Saturday Afternoon Blues - 4.45 
Royal Garden Blues - 6.12 
St. James Infirmary - 5.15 
West End Blues - 5.57 
Blues for a Black Girl - 3.59 
Careless Love Blues - 5.57 

New Orleans Jazz has sometimes been deemed old-fashioned or out of date, but bands continue to specialize in this lively music decades after its heyday. The brilliant interplay and group improvisation while maintaining a listenable melody keeps it very much alive. This collection features a number of British bands, all of whom prove that one doesn’t have to be American to swing New Orleans Jazz. Trombonist Chris Barber, trumpeter Pal Halcox, clarinetist John Crocker and alto saxophonist Sammy Rimington begin with a spirited slow drag interpretation of Clarence Williams’ masterful “Texas Moaner Blues” makes only one alteration for the modern era, adding electric guitar and electric bass, though they are played tastefully. Next is their take of Duke Ellington’s long forgotten “Immigration Blues,” which the pianist recorded for Brunswick in 1926 and left it behind. Barber’s muted solo and Crocker’s infectious clarinet are the high points. Another British band lead by clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Pete Allen delivers a down home version of Spencer Williams’ “Tishomingo Blues,” engaging in musical conversation with trombonist Mickey Cooke and clarinetist Ronnie Drake. Rob Mason leads his band with a playful Louis Armstrong-like vocal in Steve Allen’s “Meet Me Where the Play the Blues,” written with the spirit of New Orleans in mind. The band isn’t identified, though Allen’s muted trumpet solo is a joy. They also have fun with “Basin Street Blues,” a Spencer Williams standard that was a favorite of Armstrong, Jack Teagarden and so many greats. Johnny Hodges’ penned “Saturday Afternoon Blues” for a record date costarring Ben Webster. This riff tune is a foot-tapping swinger featuring some Webster-inspired tenor sax by Ronnie Drake and Alan Elsdon’s gritty trumpet. Clarence and Spencer Williams (no relation) had an early hit with “Royal Garden Blues” and the excitement hasn’t dulled with many new recordings appearing in the decades after its debut. This brisk version by trumpeter Alex Welsh’s band showcases a rollicking alto sax solo by Pete Allen and Roy Williams’ expressive trombone. Rod Mason’s somber take of “St. James Infirmary Blues” changes its mood with his campy vocal, with little asides reminiscent of New Orleans guitarist Danny Barker. Clarinetist Terry Lightfoot and trumpeter Ian Hunter-Randall capture the essence of King Oliver’s “West End Blues,” another timeless piece that is unlikely to disappear so long as New Orleans music is played. Clarinetist Dave Shepherd, trumpeter Digby Fairweather and trombonist Mickey Cooke saunter their way through “Blues For a Black Girl.” Clarinetist Monty Sunshine, with a vibrato-filled sound reminiscent of Sidney Bechet, leads his band through W. C. Handy’s “Careless Love” to wrap this excellent compilation.

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