noticeable that any publicity put out by the Napier City Council to advertise
the place always includes a picture that features The Twin City Stompers. The
band is usually in front of an art deco building with a vintage car or two snuck
in. Indeed, talk Napier and it is almost compulsory to include the band in the
sentence. They are The Twin City Stompers because they are drawn from both
Napier and its almost adjoining sister city,
easy to see why Napier, which is known as the art deco capital of the world,
identifies with a band that plays music from that era. Less easy to identify is
the exact style of traditional jazz the band actually plays. Mostly it is Trad,
but sometimes it blends to the more orchestrated Dixieland, with a more than
casual nod to Hot Jazz and sometimes a mainstream break thrown in. It certainly
The sleeve notes and their Web site www.thetwincitystompers.webs.com say that their main gigs are A&P shows, vinyards, corporate functions, weddings, birthdays and funerals. Their style of jazz is ideal for these markets and being a drumless band would be an advantage even.
Their repertoire is wide and varied. The tunes on their albums range from jazz standards to Maori favourites. I noticed many tunes taken from LPs issued by Chris Barber, Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball from the late 50s to the early 6os, so they obviously listened to the same records as I did! Having said that, they do play those tunes in their own way and not as a ‘tribute’ band – they are jazzmen after all.
their first two CDs but, despite being in the
THE TWIN CITY STOMPERS
KEEP ON SMILING
18 tracks 62 min 2004
When You’re Smiling, Charleston, All Of Me, Royal Garden Blues, Pennies From Heaven, Midnight In Moscow, I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter, American Patrol, Sukiyaki, Avalon, Five Penny Melody, That’s A Plenty, The Nearness Of You, Up A Lazy River, I Got Plenty Of Nothing, Savoy Blues, Bring Me Sunshine, Medley Of Maori Songs: Maori Batalion-Hoki Mai-Mehe Manu Rere-Now Is The Hour
the first CD the band has issued since clarinettist Ian Falconer left the band
and moved to
The album contained jazz standards from all periods and ends in a medley of Maori songs – there is a lot of nice music here.
As I write these notes the relaxing and mellow ‘The Nearness of You’ is playing, the sun is shining. Excuse me for a moment as I want to drift off. Ah yes: I drifted back to listening to jazz bands on a summers evening in England, sitting in a pub garden with a half supped pint of draught still cider in my hand, and all was well in the world. I drifted off long enough to hear ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ and think how appropriate that track was as it was the signature tune of Morecambe & Wise and they always had a jazz band featured in their show.
Enough of drifting: I am sure that many who buy the band’s CDs do so as a souvenir having seen the band perform at a function. However, you shouldn’t wait to see the band live before buying one of their CDs. Go to their Web site and order one, then after it arrives play it and enjoy and maybe, just maybe, drift off and enjoy memories of when the world was a nicer place.
THE TWIN CITY STOMPERS
17 tracks 60 min 2008
Dans Les Rues D’antibes, Rosetta, Samantha, The Very Thought Of You, Someday You’ll Be Sorry, Dream A Little Dream, Breakaway, Rosie, Sweet Sue, Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans, So Do I, I Left My Heart In San Francisco, Aint She Sweet, Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet, What A Wonderful World, Undecided, Lady Be Good
Of the five albums the band has so far issued this is my favourite. It has a good mix of tunes from the gently lyrical ‘The Very Thought of You’ with reedsman Alan Meakin playing a very thoughtful clarinet to the stomping ‘Sweet Sue’ featuring the treacle smooth trombone of the band’s new trombonist Tom Kerr. The track that to me stands out is ‘Someday You’ll be Sorry’ where they and their excellent trumpet player Roy Wardle give a splendid rendition that has a delightful balance of short solos and ensemble work.
The oldest tune is the 1909 ‘Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet’ and the newest ‘What a Wonderful World’. On the way is many a nod to the repertoire of Kenny Ball.
One rarely recorded track is the late 1960s New Vaudeville Band’s hit ‘Rosie’. I was so pleased to hear their nice interpretation of a tune that I sometimes used to sing to amuse my mother, who was ‘Rosie’ to her sisters. I usually sang it when ‘there’s a pile of dirty glasses, standing in the rack’.
THE TWIN CITY STOMPERS
19 tracks 72 min 2010
April Showers, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Georgia, Deed I Do, All Of Me, When
sleeve notes say that the tunes on the CD are the ones the band’s fans most
request. The result seems to be more vocals than the band usually have on a CD.
At first listening I was a bit sceptical, especially as the vintage age of the
band’s members is apparent in their singing, with a lack of strength in their
voices. However, that soon dissipated as first the wife started to hum and sing
along with the band, and then I did too (‘When I’m
insists that I highlight ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’, ‘Georgia’ for especial
mention. Myself? Well ‘Blaze Away’ is always a tune that will make me smile. It
was the signature tune of the Wimbledon Speedway team and Acker Bilk once
played it at my request, dedicated to the team, on his Radio Luxemburg radio
show. But, I must confess, I’m still singing ‘When I’m
THE TWIN CITY STOMPERS
WARTS 'N ALL
TCS 01 2001, 15 tracks 51 minutes
Muskrat Ramble, 1919 March, Petite Fleur, Ain't Misbehavin', Teddy Bear's Picnic, Coronation Street, Tin Roof Blues, South Rampart Street Parade, Way Down Yonder In New Orleans, Original Dixieland One Step, It Had To Be You, Puttin' On The Ritz, Battle Hymn Of The Republic, Chimes Blues, Marching Through Georgia
The Twin City Stompers come from the Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, twin city of Napier/Hastings where they perform at various functions, including the world famous Art Deco Festival.
It gives me great pleasure to be reviewing a local jazz band. The boys may not be professional jazzmen, but they most certainly are not amateur. Which is just as well, given that the CD was recorded in the front lounge in the house of one of the band members and with no second takes (hence the title). Whilst the sound is far from perfect (at times it lacks clear definition and there is the odd 'off mike' balance problem and an occasional 'pop' on the vocals) I have heard far worse on so called 'professional' studio recordings. In fact, given that this is 'live', I am surprised that there are so few flaws in the sound.
Not perfect the CD may be, but it is very honest and if you close your eyes and imagine yourself enjoying the Hawkes Bay sunshine, sitting in one of the regions excellent vineyards sampling the world beating wine, whilst listening to The Twin City Stompers, you won't go wrong.
The tunes vary from jazz standards such as 'Muskrat Ramble' and '1919 March'
(from the sound of the opening
The unique frontline of trumpet, trombone and the clarinets of Alan Meakin and Ian Falconer works very well. What the twin reeds can achieve is shewn at its best on 'South Rampart Street Parade' with one clarinet on upper register working with the trumpet and the other on lower register working with the trombone. ' Original Dixieland One Step' is another tune where the two clarinets allow there to be greater musical depth to the tune than is usually found.
When that great English statesman and general, Oliver Cromwell, sat for his portrait to be painted by Samuel Cooper, he insisted that his image not be tarted or touched up. He stated that he wanted it to be 'honest' and that he was to be painted 'warts 'n all'. He was a great man, and this is a great band!
To get a copy of the CD, or find out when the band is playing at a vineyard
contact Ross Culver, +
THE TWIN CITY STOMPERS
17 tracks 63 min 2003
Indiana, Jada, Sweet Georgia Brown, Basin Street Blues, Alexanders Ragtime Band, Creole Love Call, High Society, Georgia On My Mind, When The Saints Go Marching In , Bourbon Street Parade, Who’s Sorry Now, Stranger On The Shore, At The Jazz Band Ball, Moonglow, Hullo Dolly, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, Bill Bailey
Kiwi band, The Twin City Stompers, have just released this new CD. The big
difference between this CD and their earlier one is the quality of the sound.
The reason is simple; instead of setting a mike up in a front room they
employed a proper music studio and sound engineer to make the recordings. Oh,
and they have lost their second clarinet. Ian Falconer has left the
The band plays a very smooth ‘Trad Jazz’ style that takes me back to my
roots. Today I tend to listen to mainly purist stuff, which can be fun, but
also sometimes a bit scary. TTCS play the type of jazz that hooked me on
traditional jazz: smooth without being bland, improvised, but controlled. I
have been thinking about the nearest equivalent to their sound and style and
have come up with some1963 Polydore recordings of Monty Sunshine and his Band
that I bought from a stall down the Cut market in
The creation of the sweet and smooth sound comes from both front and back
lines. The front line is composed of good musicians who can punch, weave and
underscore without going over the top. Roy Wardle on trumpet avoids shrill high
notes and excessively tricky finger work. David Apperley’s trombone is round
and full rather than tailgate and rasping. Clarinettist Alan Meakin employs
‘dulcet tones’ and leaves off the high swoops and swipes. So, that’s where the
‘smooth and sweet’ metaphors come from. The backline comprises of just banjo
and bass, and this is where, I think, much of the ‘Trad Jazz’ feel originates.
You could always tell British inspired ‘Trad’ from American ‘
The highlight of the season for TTCS is the Napier Art Deco Festival. I am sure that the crowds who gather to admire the architecture, sip the wine and enjoy the food at the Festival are expected to be the prime market for this CD. The selection the band plays reflects what the general public expects a traditional jazz band to play and their sleeve notes say that these tunes are some of their most requested. I haven’t made it to the Art Deco Festival yet, but if I do, I would be seeking the band out to get them to play one of my favourites, and yes they do know ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’, complete with bass solo break, because it is on their CD!
If you can’t make it to Napier to hear the boys, buy the CDfrom www.thetwincitystompers.webs.com .
THE TWIN CITY STOMPERS
TCS6 2013 18 tracks, 64 min
THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE, HELLO DOLLY, DREAM A LITTLE DREAM, CARRY ME BACK TO OLD VIRGINNY, SCOTLAND THE BRAVE, PETITE FLEUR, EXACTLY LIKE YOU, BONNIE & CLYDE, MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW, I HATE MYSELF FOR BEING SO MEAN TO YOU, NOBODY KNOWS YOU WHEN YOU ARE DOWN AND OUT, CREOLE LOVE CALL, SWEET GEORGIA BROWN, GET ON BOARD (GOSPEL TRAIN), SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET, IRENE GOOD NIGHT, STRANGER ON THE SHORE, BILL BAILEY
‘It’s Trad Dad!’ Well, almost. Before I start writing a review I run a lot of ideas and words through my head, fortunately for this one I checked what I had written before on this band and found that I covered all my thoughts in the header of this review page. The band continues in the style that they have had from scratch; a mix of Trad, mainstream and hot jazz. They do it so well, why change it? What is different this time is that they have a new reeds player, not only much younger than the rest of the band, but a female! Welcome aboard Wendy ‘Hot Lips’ Caldwell. Wendy certainly adds a new dimension to the band and not only plays clarinet and tenor sax but sings too. In fact, with the Band playing mainly Trad many of the tunes on this album do have vocals which, in addition to Wendy, have trombonist Tom Kerr & trumpet player Roy Wardle also singing numbers.
As you will see from the list above, the tunes are a mix of jazz standards, old ballads and some tunes not normally part of a jazz band’s repertoire, ‘Scotland the Brave’ being one, though I do have it by The Clyde Valley Stompers. I was particularly pleased to see ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ included as it is a tune that should be played by a jazz band, rather than a rhythm & blues group such as Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames.
To quote one of my earlier reviews of one of the Band’s CDs: ‘This is the sort of CD you happily lend to someone who has expressed an interest in jazz as it has all the real flavour of the idiom, without the tart kick you get with many purist bands.’
And with that happy thought you can happily go & buy the CD from their Web site: www.thetwincitystompers.webs.com