GEOFF COLE'S RED HOT SEVEN

MAINLY MORTON

Jazz Crusade JCCD-3025 1996, 16 tracks, 72 min

Beale Street Blues, Good Old New York, Sidewalk Blues, My Home Is In A Southern Town, Sweet Substitute, Burnin' the Iceberg, Jungle Blues, My Gal Sal, Mournful Serenade, The Animule Ball, Dirty & Dirty, Oh Baby, Someday Sweetheart, Deep Creek, Blue Lou, Don't You Leave Me Here.

Before I say anything else about this CD, let me just get this off my chest: "this CD is fantastic!" Put three of Ken Colyer's best sidemen in a band, add premier trumpeter, Alan Elsdon, season with three excellent players in the rhythm section and you know it has to be good even before the disc spins. Trombone player Geoff Cole and clarinettist (though on this album reeds player), Tony Pyke, I believe were the two front-line players who best complimented Ken Colyer in his New Orleans style Jazzmen. Here they get to vary their style and play some hot jazz, though not quite in the way that Jelly Roll Morton would have done it. According to the cover notes, Big Bill Bissonnette only allowed a quick rehearsal before launching the band into the session. The way they all hang together you would never believe that, though Pyke, Cole and pianist Pat Hawes spent many years together playing with the Gov'nor. That Alan Elsdon was improvising and not playing to an arrangement I can vouch having tapes of him working through the opening track with his own band. Big Bill boasts that he only records 'spontaneous jazz'. This is spontaneous then, but so smooth and stylish, struth it is good. I won't waste any more time extolling this CDs worth. Trust me; it is one of the best on the market and it belongs in every traditional jazz lovers collection. The only thing that worries me is that the cover pictures show how much some of my favourite jazzmen have aged. It made my wife wonder if Geoff Cole is still capable of doing the old soft shoe shuffle he used to do on stage when he played with Ken in the late 60s.


GEOFF COLE & HIS HOT FIVE

ONE NEVER KNOWS - DO ONE?

JAZZ CRUSADE JCCD3047, 1999, 17 tracks, 72min

The Minor Drag, Curse Of An Aching Heart, Cabin In The Sky, What's The Reason?, Lu Lu's Back In Town, Honey Hush, Truckin', Rosetta, Black & Blue, Christopher Columbus, I Used To Love You, Two Sleepy People, Your Feet's Too Big, Yacht Club Swing, Ain't Misbehavin', Music Maestro Please, Oh Lokka There - Ain't She Pretty?

Fats Waller, jazzman or entertainer? Both of course! I am too young to have seen the man live, but I have seen film clips. Who can forget the suggestive leer and knowing wink that Fats used to draw you into his private joke? But he was no lightweight, either physically or musically, and you dismiss him and his type of jazz at your own peril. One of the blessings in recent years has been the re-issue of much older material. An extra blessing is the music industries under valuing of old jazz masters, such as Fats. The result has been a plethora of cheap CDs, and I have many. So, does having the originals lessen the need to have this CD? No. If you have read any of my reviews of the Ken Colyer band from the late 60's, you will know how much I appreciate the playing of trombonist Geoff Cole, reeds man Tony Pyke, and pianist Pat Hawes. They are no-one's slave, nor are they mimics. This CD belongs to them (and Ken Matthews on bass and Colin Miller on drums). The basic style may be Fats Waller, but the interpretation is their's. Geoff's rasping, yet oft delicate, especially on mute, trombone is fully complemented by Tony's reed playing; his alto style is unique to himself and one of the nicest around to listen to. Is Pat Hawes up to being Waller on piano? As I said, the style is Fats', but the interpretation isn't. The only area where Pat makes no attempt to take on Waller is in the area of the asides and comments the man was so famous for. Here Tom Waller makes his contribution, and does so excellently.

This is another fine album to sit alongside the, Geoff Cole & His Hot Seven, tribute to Jelly Roll Morton. And if I can say that after having heard the album for the fourth consecutive time, it must be good!


GEOFF COLE & HIS HOT FIVE

IT'S TIME YOU LEARNT

JAZZ CRUSADE JCCD3070, 2001, 16 tracks, 72min

Sheikh Of Araby, Beautiful Dreamer, If Dreams Come True, It's Time You Learnt, Until The Real Thing Comes Along, Ice Cream, I Can Make Believe, Love Walked In, Did You Mean It, Some Sunny Day, Faraway Blues, Breezin' Along With The Breeze, When The Lights Are Low, San Jacinto Stomp, Old Spinning Wheel

Geoff Cole with his Hot Five stride on the stand and win my admiration yet again! After putting out three 'theme' CDs dedicated to classic jazzmen they are let loose with tunes of their own selection (and with, It's Time You Learnt, and I Can Make Believe, tunes of Geoff's own composition). Although at odd times I wish that the band were Geoff's Hot Seven with Alan Elsdon on trumpet joining trombonist Geoff and reedsman Tony Pyke, most of the time the two man frontline is a delight with them frequently swapping the lead. I want to say more, but don't know what to add. Read my earlier reviews and you will know just how highly I hold Geoff, Tony, and the rest of the band. On this CD they are at their best, the tunes are new, rare or popular, but even the standards get a fresh dusting over and come up all sparkly new. Oh just buy it, you will enjoy it so much that even the nagging you get from your other half for buying yet another jazz CD won't worry you!


GEOFF COLE'S HOT FIVE

PUB SESSION - LIVE

JAZZ CRUSADE JCCD3106, 2005, 9 tracks, 62min

Oh! Looka' There Ain't She Pretty, Birth Of The Blues, Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone, Everywhere You Go, My Buddy, China Boy, Oh! Lady Be Good, Stars Fell On Alabama, Sweethearts On Parade

The other week I had to drive to and from Auckland, about 2 hours or so each way. Having started off I found I had only the CD in the player with me. First time round it was good, second time round and I had had enough. The return journey was in silence as I neither wanted to listed to the CD again, nor put up with the bland, banal, banter (or sometimes crude, childish, chatterings) of the radio jocks who think that they, not the music, is why people have tuned into their radio station (which frequently need re-tuning as you travel through the hills from one area to another anyway). Now, if I had had this CD with me it would not have been a problem as you can stick it on and let it run for hours knowing that you will never get bored with listening to it. I know that as it has been in my CD player for the past two weeks and I must have listened to it 10-15 times without having any other music in between and I have yet to get tired of listening to it. The only reason I am going to change it in fact is that I have other CDs to review and must therefore move on.

My admiration for Geoff Cole and Tony Pyke goes back to when they played together in Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen. Geoff Cole is, in my opinion, today’s foremost traditional jazz trombonist. In reedsman Tony Pyke Cole has his perfect partner; man they have been together so much they are almost married and like a good married couple know each other’s thoughts and intentions instinctively. On the CD you get a solo from Geoff Cole on ‘Stars Fell On Alabama’ which allows him to demonstrate his inestimable skills and inventiveness. Tony Pyke only gets to play clarinet on one track, ‘China Boy’, the rest of the time he is on alto sax, which, given the two man front line, isn’t a bad thing; Tony is one of the few who can play both instruments distinctly in that, on alto he plays as a saxophonist, and on clarinet as a clarinettist, excelling in both roles. In his sleeve notes Geoff says that he is delighted that the recordings allow the listener to experience the dynamic bass playing of Graham Wiseman; I’d like to second that. I’d also like to compliment pianist Hugh Crozier, who I have admired for some time. The drummer, John Muxlow, was a ring in for the night. I haven’t heard him before but took to him straight away as he sounds like a ‘house trained’ Mad Malc Murphy.

The recordings come from a pub session at the Rutland Arms, Catford, Kent and were originally sent to Jazz Crusade so that the label had an idea of how the Hot 5 played at their normal club sessions rather than the styles used for the ‘tribute’ CDs that they had earlier recorded for the label. Such is the quality of the recordings that Crusade have now put them out on this CD; and so they should, as both the music and the quality of the recording are so high that I had to attach a piece of string to my copy to stop it floating to the ceiling.

BACK TO TOP OF PAGE