Date Posted: 2007-04-30
BY GEORGE H BUCK JR
Well, is been a few months longer than we like between issues of JazzBeat, but Iím sure youíll find our new releases worth the wait.
Unfortunately we lost a few good friends in the interim. First clarinetist Kenny Davern died of a heart attack at his home in New Mexico on December 12. Kenny hit the road with Jack Teagarden in the early 1950s and never looked back, though he worked in relative obscurity until he and Bob Wilber began appearing at festivals as Soprano Summit. After that he was known as the greatest exponent of traditional jazz clarinet and made numerous recordings and appeared at all major jazz festivals. He was 71.
A heart attack also claimed cornetist Bill Price on December 23. Price, who produced an excellent series of videos which we are issuing on GHB DVDs, was 83. Price began his career while in college and was featured with the Salty Dogs, at Jazz Ltd, and after he settled in Minnesota, with Doc Evans, the Hall Brothers and his own groups.
Floyd Levin, the dean of traditional jazz journalists, also died of a a heart attack, on January 21. Floyd had been writing about jazz since he 1940s and was involved as well in such diverse projects as the Louis Armstrong Statue Fund, Crescent Jazz Productions, and an excellent book anthologizing a number of his articles which appeared originally in a blinding variety of publications. Floyd was 82.
Prostate cancer claimed British writer/musician Mick Burns, 64, on February 13. Mick played the trombone and tuba with British bands and was the foremost authority on modern New Orleansí brass bands- he wrote the book on the Olympia Brass Band published by Jazzology Press and the recent Keeping the Beat on the Street, published by LSU Press. He was working on a book about Barry Martyn at the time of his death.
Clarinetist Norrie Cox, who was recently featured on an outstanding GHB CD, died March 7 of a blood clot. Cox worked in England during the Trad Boom of the late 1950s then surfaced in Milwaukee in the 1980s, where he led a number of groups and coached a very successful youth band, in one of the few programs in the world designed to teach New Orleans jazz to youngsters. Cox was 75.
Lazy Ade Monsborough died July 19, 2006. A very talented clarinetist and composer, he was born in Melbourne, Australia on Feb 17, 1917.
Johnny Blowers, a superb drummer, born Apr 21 1911 in Spartanburg, SC, died July 17, 2006, in Westbury NY. He was one of the few remaining members of the Condon Mob.
Claude Luter died Oct 9, 2006. Born in Paris, France in 1923, he died in Paris at the age of 83. He was very important, both in Paris, and around the world.
On Dec 7, 2006, 23 lost Jay McShann; he was born Jan 12, 1916, in Muscogee OK, and died in Kansas City, KS. He was 90 years old.
Martha Tilton died on Dec 11, 2006, in Los Angeles CA. She was 91 years old. She was known as Liltiní Martha Tilton; she recorded with Benny Goodman, and also recorded as a solo artist for Capitol Records.
Betty Assunto, known as the Duchess of Dixieland, was the vocalist for the Dukes of Dixieland; she was married to Freddy Assunto; they were sweethearts all of their life. She made some wonderful records for Epic/Columbia Records. She died Dec 26, 2006, in Slidell LA. She was 72 years of age.
On Dec 20, 2006, we lost Joan Steele to a heart attack; she was 71 years old, born Aug 3, 1935. She recorded on Audiophile, ACD-94.
Finally, on Mar 7, 2007, we lost Cullen Offer. He died from Alzheimerís disease; he was 75 years old, and he recorded extensively for Progressive Records.
Now to our new releases- this time out weíre finishing the reissue of the material from Doug Dobellís 77 label. We bought the label many years ago but weíve only reissued a handful of the wonderful sessions we purchased.
The first one is Jazzology JCD-347. This is a split CD, combining a session featuring legendary Scottish clarinetist Archie Semple and one featuring Cuff Billett and Bill Greenow, two of the stars of the early Barry Martyn making their initial appearance after leaving Barry to pursue independent careers. Archie Semple was one of Englandís best clarinetists in the late 1950s, combining elements of PeeWee Russell and Edmond Hall into his own style. He was a mainstay of the Alex Welsh Band, Englandís equivalent of the Condon mob; four the Welsh aggregation accompany him here.
The first GHB CD in this release is BCD-252- BOB WALLIS & HIS STORYVILLE JAZZMEN, 1957. Bob Wallis began playing about 1952 and by the time of this session he had his act awesomely together. This is the full session from a 12Ē LP recorded for 77 Records by Bill Colyer. The bandís excellent rhythm includes drummer Ginger Baker, who was later famous as a rock-and-roll superstar; here heís confined to playing some decent Baby Dodds licks.
The heyday of 77 Records coincided with the period when New Orleans stars routinely toured England as featured attractions with local bands. One of the leading New Orleans bands in England during that time was that of Barry Martyn. Barry brought over a large number of New Orleans stars and ultimately had a regular touring circuit which carried musicians through England, the Low Countries and Italy.
One of the first musicians to tour for Barry was Louis Nelson, in 1966. THE NELSON TOUCH (BCD-253) features Nelson, one of the most melodic New Orleans trombonists, with the classic Martyn band- Cuff Billett, Bill Greenow, Graham Paterson, Brian Turnock and Martyn.
Another Martyn project was a tour for Alton Purnell. Alton left the George Lewis band for California in 1955 and hadnít been recorded much until Barry brought him to England. ITíS THE TALK OF THE TOWN (BCD-254) features Alton with one of the later excellent Martyn groups, this one featuring Yoshio and Keiko Toyama (trumpet and banjo) with the excellent clarinet and tenor sax of John Deffrey. This session was recorded at Londonís legendary 100 Club in 1972.
Two different Barry Martyn units are featured on BCD-260, RUM AND COCA-COLA. The first half of the album features Barryís band of the late 1960s, sparked by excellent trumpeter Teddy Fullick and Sammy Rimington on clarinet, alto and tenor sax. The last half of the CD features the classic Martyn band, with Cuff Billett, Bill Greenow and Graham Paterson.
bCD-262 features the SONNY MORRIS JAZZMEN with a short session by BOB WALLIS & HIS NEW STORYVILLE JAZZMEN to bring the set up to full CD length. Sonny Morris was one of the stars of the Crane River Jazz Band, who were virtually ground zero for the New Orleans Revival in England. Morris is joined here by the members of the Terry Lightfoot, including Lightfoot himself on clarinet, though his name was not included on the original release of this material for contractual reasons. This session is seminal British trad, dating from1957.
Barry Martyn mounted four US tours for his British band- BCD 263 JAZZ HYMN FEST was recorded at the tail end of Martynís second US tour. The band were asked to perform a jazz service at the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Stow MA. This Martyn band featured Clive Wilson on trumpet, Dick Douthwaite on clarinet and Freddy John on trombone, then just starting to make his mark in the jazz world. This was Barryís best-selling LP and Iím sure those of you who have the LP will want the CD, particularly as Barry recorded seven more numbers at our Audiophile studio featuring some of New Orleans current stars, including Chris Clifton, trumpet and Rickie Monie, piano. He made what was a good album into a great one.
]BCD-265 IN THE GROOVE features KID SHEIK AND CAPT JOHN HANDY. Sheik and Handy always worked well together and when they hit the British Isles together in 1966 the results were incendiary. Doug Dobell was so impressed he immediately put the guys to work making albums and the 77 catalogue included an inordinate helping of classic Handy material. This one features such favorites as Ice Cream, a classic Handy tear-up, Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet and Panama. Sheik and Handy are accompanied by Barry Martynís band.
The other musician active at touring New Orleans stars in Engand and Europe was trumpeter Keith Smith, Smith moved to New Orleans in the mid-60s and worked as a Lucky Dog vendor while soaking up as much music as he could. He recorded a session at legendary San Jacinto Hall in 1965 with an all-star lineup including George Lewis, George Guesnon, Slow Drag Pavageau and Cie Frazier, along with Smith and trombonist Hugh Watts, best known as a member of the New Vaudeville Orchestra, who had a monster hit with Winchester Cathedral. That session is on this CD along with a set done the following year when Smith was touring with his New Orleans All-Stars, which included Jimmy Archey, Pops Foster, Darnell Howard, Alton Purnell and Cie Frazier. This is a very important CD.
BCD-303 is the KID THOMAS PARTY. In 1957 Peter Deuchar, a young banjoist and heir to a Scottish brewing fortune, visited New Orleans to study jazz close up. He became friends with the Kid Thomas band and was invited to a christening party at Emanuel Paulís house. The Kid Thomas band were there and a jam session ensued. The music was rough and ready, and much of it was captured on a small tape recorder. There was a limited edition 10Ē LP (only 99 copies) including less than half of the music. Weíre putting it all out now. I must warn you, this is not a studio recording-this is the Thomas band having fun at a house party. They roll through some of their standards, some current pop tunes, and generally have a good time. A rare glimpse at a New Orleans band having fun on their own time.
Finally, on BCD-273, we are reissuing a fine 1970 album by Mike Casimirís NEW IBERIA STOMPERS. Mike was a regular visitor to New Orleans for many years and his band included Dick Cook, clarinet, Andrew Hall, piano, and Trevor Richards, drums, all of whom became permanent members of the New Orleans scene To bring this project to CD length weíre adding four numbers recorded at the 100 Club in 1974 with a slightly different personnel. Mike hung up his trombone to run his familyís antique shop, but weíve got a fine souvenir of one of Englandís best New Orleans bands.
Other reissues from the 77 label on our Progressive Label are Peter Compton Big Band, and Kenny Baker.
I am very excited about the issue of the balance of the 77 Catalog which we acquired from Doug Dobell in London, England. I love these CDís as they represent some of the finest New Orleans jazz recorded by pioneers of New Orleans jazz and some of the most skilled and creative jazz musicians in England that have a close affinity to New Orleans jazz, all recorded in studios which give the sessions a wonderful and beautiful sound which should give you many, many hours of playing and listening pleasure. This is some great swinging New Orleans jazz!
That about wraps up the Buck Box for this time- donít forget the fine George Lewis CD on AMCD-38 as well as our new releases on Audiophile, Circle Progressive and Solo Art and the DVD featuring the Legends of Jazz with Papa Jac Assunto. Things are continuing to improve, though slowly, in New Orleans. Thank you all again for you continuing expressions of concern.