THE ISLE OF Orleans
Gentilly Records GR-172 2003, 12 TRACKS 70 min
Dumaine Street Breakdown, Restless Heart, Suburban Street Parade, Blues For Faz, I Know I’ll See You Again, The Isle Of Orleans, The Gentilly Strut, It’s My Love Song To You, Magnolia Dance, March Of The Uncle Bubbys, Crescent City Moon, Monkey Hill
I rarely quote the cover notes, but this time I just have to as not only do they explain much, they amuse me. "If you live in New Orleans and make your living playing traditional jazz you have some choices as to what you are going to play. You can cave in completely to the tourists and blare out nothing but the Dixieland Top 40 ….. or you can excavate the mustiest regions of the repertoire, perform neglected works by the 1923 ‘Hog Jowls’ Jackson band, brag that nobody else ever plays the stuff, then complain about how little you are working …… if I’m going to play obscure music, it might as well be my own." Love it, just love: both the comments and Tim’s own obscure music!
Popular music has been over run by ‘singer song writers’, all of whom seem to be using the same one tune, in different keys and at different tempos for the whole CD and that same tune being similar to what all the other singer song writers have come up with to fill their own boring CDs. Jazz does not suffer from this problem, in fact it brings in so little new material it risks atrophying. So far, this is only the second traditional jazz CD I have that is totally ‘self written’ (the other being Brian White’s ‘Muted Trumpet, Slide Trombone’). Having, hopefully caught your attention, I would like to appeal to the leaders of traditional jazz bands to buy this CD and consider using some of the material on it for their own bands. If instead of being a jazz band leader, you are a film producer, then might I suggest you check out ‘Blues for Faz’. It is ideal for a film about the 30s or 40s. It is very atmospheric and if you close your eyes you can just imagine the cigarette smoking gum shoe standing in a doorway on a wet rainy night.
I must admit I almost passed the CD over when I saw that it had a vibraphone on some of the tracks. My past experiences of that instrument have been rather unpleasant exposure to modernists whose main intent has been to shove as many hits per second into a tune as they can. However, one night in Rotorua I went into a bar with some colleagues where the late Dr. Jazz and his band were performing: guesting with them that night was a dreaded vibraphone player. I would have walked out, but having people with me, and it being a conference where I wanted to ‘make friends and influence people’ I stayed. It was just as well as the player shewed how the vibraphone can fit into a traditional line up very well if the player is sympatric to the idiom. Tim’s choice of Jason Marsalis (how many more jazzmen are there in this family?) reinforces my Rotorua experience, so have no fear, gentle listener, all will be well!
I have another CD with Tim Laughlin on it, ‘King of the Mardis Gras’ with the British band, Gambit Jazzmen (Lake LDCD54). I commented there about Tim’s very distinctive and personal sound. This man describes himself as Clarinet Savant. Well he is not only a learned man, he is a very skilled man, who plays the clarinet with a wonderful ‘woody’ sound. On this CD he is backed by a selection of sidemen, all talented. This CD is highly recommended to all and sundry. Let us hope Tim has more ‘obscure music’ that he has written lying around ready for his next CD.
GAMBIT JAZZMEN with TIM LAUGHLIN
KING OF THE MARDI GRAS
Lake LACD54 1995 11 tracks 68 min
Dreaming The Hours Away, Bedelia, Glory Of Love, King Of The Mardi Gras, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, Smiles, Sweet Substitute, Dippermouth Blues, Shim-me-sha-wable, Si Tu Vois Ma Mere, Original Dixieland One-Step.
Although New Orleans jazz is obviously American in origin in recent years one has tended to look elsewhere, especially Europe, when seeking out its finest exponents. The Gambit Jazzmen's guest is N.O. born clarinettist Tim Laughlin and he shows on this CD that excellent jazzmen are still being produced in the crescent city. The first two tracks, though very well played and good to listen to, do not really provide the platform necessary to judge Tim's skills; you have to wait until 'Glory Of Love' before you get the chance to really hear Tim's lyrical weaving style. 'King Of The Mardi Gras' and 'Si Tu Vois Ma Mere' are feature numbers for Tim that give him greater opportunities to dazzle. The sleeve notes comment that most POMs think that all N.O. clarinettist should sound like George Lewis when in fact the city has a various times been as over-run with them as we are rabbits, personally I find that a rather sweeping statement, but the comments are valid in that Tim produces a very distinct and personal sound that does not always fit the European mould we have become so used to. But what about the band you ask ! Well they are top rate and roll along very smoothly. With ex-Colyer sidesmen involved (Pete Lay-dms, Ray Foxley-pno) you should expect class, and you get it; Joining Tim in the front-line are Barry Weston who plays a class tailgate trombone with all the rasp of a cow's fart, and Dave Stradwick on cornet whom I especially liked though I am not quite sure why, I just did. In fact that sums this CD up: there is nothing especially outstanding or brilliant about it, but it is very, very, likeable and I wouldn't be without it. I mean; I have just played it through thrice in one sitting whilst doing this review and I might even do once more just for fun, so there !
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