1. Lady of Spain
2. It Happened in Monterey
3. Maori Farewell
4. C抏st Si Bon
5. An Ordinary Copper
6. Star of the County Down
7. Trouble in Mind
8. Higher Ground
9. Answer Me
10. Faithful Hussar
11. Old Rugged Cross
13. Kentucky Home
14. Streets of the City
15. La Vie en Rose
16. White Cliffs of Dover
Roger Marks ?Trombone (all tracks except 5 and 12), vocal (track 7)
Pete Allen ?Clarinet, baritone sax (all tracks except 12), vocal (track 2)
Pete Sumner ?Banjo (all tracks), vocal (track 10)
David Holdsworth ?Sousaphone, trumpet (all tracks),
Recorded at Plymouth Music Cooperative Studios, U.K. on Oct. 29, 2018.
This small group album provides some first-rate traditional jazz. The
program梡erhaps one of the first things we look at when appraising a
CD梥hows only a few titles that are fairly often seen on jazz CDs?
Trouble in Mind, Higher Ground, Old Rugged Cross, [My Old] Kentucky
and Streets of the City, perhaps. Others have appeared on occasion
elsewhere to be given a jazz treatment?em>C抏st Si Bon, Faithful Hussar, La Vie en Rose by Mr. Armstrong, for
instance, or White Cliffs of Dover by British bands such as those
of Chris Barber, Acker Bilk, et al. I do not recall any jazz groups taking
up the remainder: Jules Rag, an original by Pete Sumner; An Ordinary Copper, which I have not heard before, the theme song
of an early BBC TV series; It Happened in Monterey, a ballad from
the movie King of Jazz that featured Paul Whiteman and his
band and perhaps more associated with big swing bands; Star of the County Down, an Irish reel given a jaunty treatment,
complete with hand-clapping fills; Answer Me, a ballad connected
to the likes of Frankie Laine and Nat King Cole. So right out of the gate
almost half of the tunes sparked my interest before I even put on the
Next comes the challenge of how well the quartet maintains the listener抯
attention since there is only about half of the usual complement (seven or
eight musicians) that provides the customary line-up of ensembles and
solos. This combo does not fall short in this regard, providing a wealth of
arrangements and textures that forestall any monotony. To cite just a few
of these, the group does not follow the same pattern from track to
track of ensemble, solos (usually in the same order), and ensemble out.
Thus we find An Ordinary Copper commences with clarinet lead and
maintains that until the end, there being no other solos. Or Higher Ground opens with a trombone and clarinet duet, trombone
leading and clarinet playing counterpoint with no rhythm backing; then they
are joined by sousaphone for a chorus and then banjo to complete the
ensemble. Or Jules?Rag begins with banjo and sousaphone and
continues that duet for the entire track. So there is considerable variety
Solos within each track do not always follow the same order梥ometimes the
trombone takes the first, other times the clarinet. And both Marks and
Allen are masters of their instruments, not only in terms of technique but
also in the quality of the tone each achieves on his instrument, the
trombone being warm and full, the clarinet having no sharp edges or
screeches. And it goes without saying that both produce a wealth of ideas
as we might expect, given their experience.
In addition to all of that, other factors contribute to the excellence of
the rendition of each tune.
Lady of Spain
maintains the rhythm of the tango throughout, where other bands might have
resorted to straight fours. Maori Farewell (perhaps better known
as Now Is the Hour), usually played in waltz time, is here taken
in four from the outset until the coda. Jules?Rag has an
unexpected, but interesting, half time four-bar phrase on the banjo in the
middle. And several tracks end with a four or eight bar turnaround.
All of this adds up to a very entertaining and enjoyable listening experience.
This disc would be welcome on any jazz lover抯 shelf.