CHRIS BLOUNT'S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND
THE OLD RUGGED CROSS
LAKE LACD 16 1990 15 tracks 54 min.
Mary Wore a Golden Chain/ Amazing Grace/ Lord, Lord, Lord/ Only a Look/ Royal Telephone/ The Old Rugged Cross/ In the Sweet Bye and Bye/ The Hand of God/ Lead Me Saviour/ It is no Secret/ Walking with the King/ An Evening Prayer/ Yes Lord, I'm Crippled/ His Eye is on the Sparrow/ End of a Perfect Day.
There are many magic words in the English language, and one of them is "however". I am going to use it in this review. Chris Blount's New Orleans Jazz Band is one of the foremost New Orleans Jazz Bands around today. The standard of musicianship is extremely high and, as should be in a New Orleans band, there is no one hero dominating the proceedings. Now I will use that word; however, there are tracks on this CD that never seem to get going, where there is an apparent lack of inspiration and improvisation. Perhaps this is why some tracks are quite short. Examples of this are "Amazing Grace", and "The Old Rugged Cross". The last mentioned particular pales when compared to versions put out by other bands, especially Max Collie's Rhythm Aces version which is almost 3 times longer and yet never gets repetitious.
But, still, this is a beautiful album. The quality of the recording is superb and well balanced. If you listen to the lyrical clarinet and superb muted trumpet and trombone on "Lord, Lord, Lord" you will readily forget any earlier criticism of the Band. On the sleeve it mentions the parishioners dancing around the aisles. Well after listening to "Walking with the King", and my two favourites; "Mary wore a Golden Chain", and "Royal Telephone", you will understand why. I must mention two other things; the haunting beauty of the clarinet solo on "End of a Perfect Day", and the unhappy way the line "I sing because I'm happy" on "His Eye is on the Sparrow" is delivered. Don't misinterpret what I said at the beginning; Jazz Journal was right when it said that this album "can truly be judged a must". I am both a Christian and a jazz lover. This album meets both my needs.
GOIN' HOME - A FOND FAREWELL TO CHRIS BLOUNT
Jazz Crusade JCCD3046, 1999, 15 tracks, 71 min
Carolina Moon, Goin' Home, Dr. Jazz, Salutation March, Too Busy / Clarinet Marmalade, Give Me Your Telephone Number, Four or Five Times, Get Out Of Here, Milneberg Joys / Rose Of Picardy, Melancholy, At A Georgia camp Meeting, Mama Inez, The Moose - A March
Chris Blount had a habit of surprising jazz fans, and he certainly did so when he died suddenly this year! A player in the George Lewis mould, Chris toured and played extensively in the UK and Europe, both with his own band and as a guest player with other bands. Both fans and fellow jazz musicians will certainly miss him.
This CD comprises of three separate sessions. The first is from 1995 with an all star band of Norman Thatcher trumpet, Dave Vickers trombone, Barry Grummett piano, Dave Brennan banjo, Mick Kennedy bass and Malc Murphy drums. With Thatcher being the nearest thing around to Ken Colyer and all but the pianist and the bass player having either been sides men or regular players with The Guv'nor, you know how the tracks sound: pure New Orleans played in a smooth yet crisp manner that delights the ears. At times it is very hard not to think that you are not listening to the Rimington/Cole band of 1961-63.
The second session is from 1993 with Ged Hone on trumpet, Big Bill Bissonnette on trombone, Mac MacDonald banjo, Ken Matthews bass, and Dion Cochrane drums. This band has a harder edge and more forceful style, and it is quite noticeable how Chris Blount shows his ability to vary his style to fit in with those he is playing with.
The final session is from 1996 playing with his then band of Derek Winters trumpet, Ron Radford trombone, Barry Grummett piano, Tony Peatman banjo, Harry Slater bass and Steve Upton drums. Again the pace changes, and so does Chris' clarinet playing. It is amazing that the man could show such variety of delivery and yet remain so completely within idiom. Having just read my notes, I am struck that I amgiving the impression that Chris Blount was a broken and weak reed, blowing this way and that. It is not true. What is true is that he had complete sympathy with those he was playing with and was able to catch, and then complement their interpretation of New Orleans jazz.
Chris Blount was often underrated as a jazz clarinettist, not least by myself, but this CD shews him at his best, and is a fitting, and indeed a fond, farewell to a great talent.
OVER IN THE GLORYLAND
Lake LACD 132 2000 20 Tracks 80 min
Bugle Boy March, Plaisir D'Amour, Honey Swat Blues, Canal Street Blues, Over In The Gloryland, Ice Cream, Lily Of The Valley, Viper Mad, Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight, Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall, Wabash Blues, Collegiate, My Old Kentucky Home, The Old Spinning Wheel, Listen To The Mocking Bird, Montmarte, Blue Blood Blues, Mary Wore A Golden Chain, Lead Me Saviour, The End Of A Perfect day
The untimely demise of Chris Blount in December 1998 has led to both Jazz Crusade and Lake issuing 'tribute' CDs. Given Chris' ability and contribution to the traditional jazz scene in Europe and America, it is only appropriate that these two fine CDs should honour him.
This CD of Lake's features Chris playing with his own band, his own band with Sonny Morris on trumpet, The Lake Records Jazz Band, Marilyn Middleton-Pollock's All Stars, The Delta Four, and Ged Hone's New Orleans Boys. The tracks are the personal choice of Lake's supremo, Paul Adams, who was Chris' friend and confidant.
The line-ups and recording quality varies somewhat, but this is a very nice CD in honour of a very nice man. All royalties from the CD are being donated to The Cancer Prevention Research Fund in London so; give to charity and give yourself a treat at the same time.
CHRIS BLOUNT NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND
CD 2079-2 Music Mecca, 1998, 11 tracks, 60 min
The Old Rugged Cross, Royal Telephone, Lead Me Saviour, God Will Take Care Of You, I Shall Not Be Moved, Over The Waves, St Jude's Hymn, When You And I Were Young Maggie, Burgundy Street Blues, Lou-Easy-An-I-A, When I Move To The Sky
I was as upset as any traditional jazz fan when I heard of the premature death of Chris Blount. Chris' band was one of England's premier New Orleans style bands (fortunately it continues with a replacement clarinetist)
In later years Chris seemed to spend an increasing amount of time in Scandinavia and often played in the church services there.
This session is from a session at St Maria church Helsinborg Sweden. The material is a mix of sacred and secular. In addition to many well known numbers there are a couple of obscure ones that I have never heard of and thus making this CD a very collectable item. This CD is a fitting tribute to a lost jazzman who died before his prime and the setting makes it even more poignant.
The above can be bought from: http://www.cdjazz.com
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