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KID ORY & RED ALLEN

A JAZZ CONCERT IN BERLIN 1959 1ST SET

Jazz Crusade JCCD 3125, 2007, 9 tracks, 59 min

ORIGINAL DIXIELAND ONE STEP, I WISH I WERE IN PEORIA, CARELESS LOVE, HIGH SOCIETY, SAVOY BLUES, TIN ROOF BLUES, MUSKRAT RAMBLE, PANAMA RAG, WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN.

KID ORY & RED ALLEN

A JAZZ CONCERT IN BERLIN 1959 2nd SET

Jazz Crusade JCCD 3126, 2007, 12 tracks, 60 min

BILL BAILEY, ST JAMES’ INFIRMARY BLUES, WOLVERINE BLUES, SISTER KATE, SUGARFOOT STOMP, AUNT HAGAR’S BLUES, KID ORY’S BOOGIE WOOGIE, AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL, TUXEDO JUNCTION, GERMAN BANTER (SPOKEN), TIGER RAG, WITHOUT YOU FOR INSPIRATION

Obviously, as the title says, these CDs feature those great New Orleans jazzmen, Kid Ory on trombone and Red Allen on trumpet. However, they have the company of other great jazzmen, such as the grossly underrated Bob McCraken on a sweet, sweet clarinet (Louis Armstrong used him in his All Stars and when you listen to his playing you know that he is a star indeed), Cedric Haywood on a very sharp piano, Squire ‘Gersh’ Girsback on bass (though you will have to re-balance your sound system and emphasise your bass control to really hear him) and Alton Redd on drums who provides a steady, if somewhat pedestrian, beat.

Kid Ory just has to be ‘THE’ New Orleans trombone player for many traditional jazz aficionados: that wet, fat ‘raspberry’ sound – there is nothing to compare to it. Red Allen I admire, but find his trumpet too often in the higher register for me to include him in my list of favourites. But, with the wonderful Bob McCracken weaving all together, the frontline works and sounds very good.

The tour these recording are from was one of many Ory made, but the first outside America undertaken by Allen. The story behind the albums is quite interesting. Kid Ory apparent\y had commissioned the recordings for his own pleasure. They resurfaced years later when his daughter, Babette, offered them to jazzman Colin Bray, who advised Big Bill Bissonnette, who then bought the rights to issue them. The 2 CDs comprise of two sets from a 1959 concert in Berlin. Other recordings from the tour are available elsewhere(see Storeyville records STCD6038 ‘In Denmark’ released in 1998, which has many of the tunes played at the Berlin Concert, and there also may be old copies on vinyl of albums put out by Rarities and Queen Disc floating around).

Although there is no indication in the cover notes, I am sure the tunes are played in the sequence they were played. The first track, ‘Original Dixieland One Step’ causes you to think that the trombone player may be Kid Ory, or perhaps someone playing in his style, then on track two, ‘Peoria’ you know it is Ory, but he seems a bit short on innovation, then from track three onwards there is no doubt that it is the maestro playing and playing at his best. By track five; ’Savoy Blues’ he is running hot. Well his trombone is, but his vocals may or may not be so as they are so quiet you have to really strain to hear them. Red Allen’s vocals are very clear, so it is a microphone imbalance on both Ory’s and Redd’s vocals that is the problem rather than lack of voice power. In fact I thought on ‘Saints’ Redd was just exhorting during a piano break rather than singing. The intros can be heard ok and I sniggered when I heard Ory announce ‘Muskrat Ramble as ‘Must Crap Ramble’. It just had to be deliberate mispronunciation, in the same way as Acker Bilk always announces ‘Stranger on the Shore’ as ‘Strangler on the Floor’.

On hearing ‘’High Society’, ‘Muskrat Ramble’ and the other up-beat tunes the old adage that ‘jazz should never be faster than you can walk’ came to mind, for I had a mental image of the British Army’s Rifle Brigade at their double quick march trying to keep up. On reading the sleeve notes (which I never do until I have listen to the CD at least twice – so I don’t pick up any ideas) I found B3 saying that they were played at ‘Horse Race Tempo’, which, apparently, is often the norm for concerts as opposed to club or dance hall gigs.

There are some very choice bits of jazz here. I have always decided a CD is worth having when I find that I hit the repeat button as soon as a tune is finished. I found myself doing it on ‘Savoy Blues’, ‘Sister Kate’ and ‘Aunt Hagar’s Blues’. ‘St James Infirmary Blues’ though caused me to worry as I kept hitting the button time & time again; I hate being addicted to anything!

Classic jazz tunes played by classic jazzmen; very enjoyable.

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