SANDY BROWN'S JAZZ BAND
Lake LACD 5383 2000 19 tracks 79 min
Everybody Loves Saturday Night, Too Bad, Something Blues, Tree Top Tall Papa, African Queen, Special Delivery, Nothing Blues, Africa Blues, Black Six Blues, Blues Stampede, Fifty-Fifty Blues, Nobody Met The Train, Stay, Swiss Kriss, High Time, Look The Other Way, Candy Stripes, Mouse Party, My Neck Of The Woods.
I was too young to be in at the beginning of the British traditional jazz revival, in fact I didn't catch the bug until near the end of the Trad boom, hence I almost missed Sandy Brown. I first came across his name as the clarinetist on a 45 put out by Johnny Mortimer and his Band (the Paramount Jazz Band less Acker Bilk, said to have been their idea of revenge for Acker releasing "Stranger on the Shore" without them). I was very taken with him; strong playing, woody mellow tones, unique phrasing. I sought for more, only to find that the only tracks I could get were odd ones on Pye's Golden Guinea Jazz Britannia album. At last I have caught up with him.
The CD comprises of tracks laid down for the Tempo label 1955-56, when Sandy was just emerging as a force on the British jazz scene. A few years back I caught up with Sandy again when I picked up a pack of cheap CDs at the Warehouse called: '72 Jazz Classics' and found that of the 72 tracks, Sandy appeared on 5 of them. This is the first album I have that has Sandy on his own, though considering the line up of the band includes top jazzmen Al Fairweather, John RT Davies (or Sheik Haroun of Wadi el Yadounir as he was with the Temperance Seven), Graham Burbridge and Stan Grieg,'on his own', is perhaps not the best choice of phrase, but Sandy is definitely the main feature. Of the 19 tunes, Sandy wrote 6 of the first 11, and trumpeter and schoolmate, Al Fairweather, wrote the final 8 tunes
If you have never heard Sandy Brown play, you must; he is wonderful, just wonderful. The front line players all compliment and enhance each other and the whole band (in all various line-ups) swings along very well. The style does alter on the later tracks and moves somewhat from traditional to mainstream, this is especially noticeable on 'Look The Other Way' which has much orchestrated syncronised playing by the front line. "Stay" features Diz Disley playing an electric guitar as part of the front line. As the rest of the band are playing traditional jazz, it does not fit. Disley's guitar does fit in better on 'Mouse Party', where he joins Bob Clarke on violin in a Hot Club of France style number. The other 'experimental' number is 'My Neck Of The Woods' where Dick Heckenstall-Smith joins the band playing a very nice soprano sax. The tune starts well, but then dissolves into a discordant mess, shame really as I like the soprano sax.
But forget the mismatched tunes, there are only two of them. Listen to 'African Queen', 'Fifty-Fifty Blues' and all is forgiven.
Sandy's mainline of business was building sound studios and acting as an acoustic consultant. If he had been less dedicated in this line of business and put more effort into promoting himself and his Jazz Band they could have been one of the top Trad bands around. Maybe he just didn't fancy having to persuade them all to wear kilts and bonnets in order to up-stage Acker Bilk!
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