JAZZ CRUSADE 2003 JCCD-3086 17 tracks, 73 min

Mama’s Gone Goodbye, Zero, Strollin’ In The Moonlight, Chant Of The Tuxedos, Down By The Riverside, Bogalusa Strut, Sing On, Mobile Stomp, Over In The Gloryland, Careless Love, Arkansas Blues, Frankie & Johnny, Nobody Knows The Way I Feel This Morning, Jackass Blues, San, Limehouse Blues, Somebody Stole My Gal

Ah France, I can tell when I am getting near the place by the ‘ambience’ of coffee, garlic, Gauloise and Gitane cigarettes, all overlaid with the warm damp waft from the men’s public pissior.

Talk of French jazz and one tends to turn to the Club de Paris, all guitars and hectic violins, with guest appearances by Lionel Hampton on vibes. I was shocked back to reality a few years agowhen I first heard Paris Washboard, and since have kept an eye out for French traditional jazz CDs. This CD was recorded in New Orleans and includes French ex-pat Jacques Gauthe on reeds. In fact, the band has a somewhat ‘international’ hue, with Englishmen Malc Murphy and John Richardson on drums and piano and Italian Enzo Mucci on bass. Siphan Upravan, the banjo player, is, according to the notes, half Laotian and half French. This is something of a surprise as he looks like a younger version of my Uncle Frank and we Boxells, coming from King Harold’s lands around Bosham, regard ourselves as the English of the English.

This is a most interesting CD with plenty of popular tunes, wrongly neglected tunes, and a couple I have never heard of. They make a good mix and I know my late mother would have loved them as you can dance to them, and I am not talking about the awkward ‘skip jive’ that we Brits did to Trad in the late 50s and early 60s.

Having Jacques as a guest could have caused problems as the soprano he mostly plays is said to cause problems for the trumpet player in a jazz band. Well the fine trumpet of Dan Vernette does not get crowded or over powered, but Michel Queraud on clarinet has the odd problem. There are several duets between the reedmen and they are quite enjoyable little nuggets, but ensemble Michel often ops to get into the higher register in order to be heard.

Talking of nuggets of gold: I loved the break in ‘Zero’ with piano, bass, banjo and Mad Malc Murphy making musical mayhem as he worked his wondrous way through the drum kit in the background. This CD is full of delightful bits and pieces and well worth buying.

So, put a table and chair out on the pavement, scoff some wonderful stuffed croissants, sip some disgustingly strong black coffee, put on the CD, close your eyes, and enjoy!