OL' MAN RIVER
BOB WALLIS AND THE STORYVILLE JAZZMEN
Lake LACD91 1998, 21 Tracks 59 min.
Moose March, Big House Blues, Chinatown, Flee As A Bird/Didn't He Ramble, New Orleans Stomp, Confessing, Louisian-i-a, All For You-Louis, Easy Does It, Spooky Takes A Holiday, Martha, Algiers Bounce, Ol' Man River, Knocked 'Em In The Old Kent Road, I'm Shy Mary Ellen, A Shanty In Old Shanty Town, Red Wing, Perfect Rag, When Its Sleepy Time Down South, Gossip Jones, Cotton Pickers Congregation
From my very first introduction to traditional jazz, I have liked, Bob Wallis and his Storyville Jazz men. It was not just the music but the whole image. In fact at school when I was in a play about Abraham Lincoln; I made sure that I got to wear the only Mississippi gambler's a outfit amongst the props. Why? So that I could look just like Bob Wallis and the Storyville Jazz men as they appeared in the film "It's Trad Dad"! As for the music, well the attraction was the enthusiasm as much as anything else. Mind you, they could get a bit manic at times! One track that follows this trait is "Algiers Bounce", which I had on an E P. Funnily enough, the re-balanced version on this CD no longer has me wishing for it to end as the original version did.
The tracks on the CD are from 960 and '61 and contained no less than three banjo solos from Hugh Rainey! Also included are an Avo Avison trombone solo on "New Orleans Stomp" which allows him to show off his wonderful style to the full. Clarinettist Dougie Richford gets his turn on "Spooky Takes a Holiday". I love Richford's "skating" clarinet, and am oft found hitting the "replay" button for another "Spooky" session. As for Bob Wallis himself; he features mainly with singing in his chainsaw voice. "Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road" and "Mary Ellen" are the better tracks, both having been hit singles for the band during the Trad boom.
It was good to hear Bob and the boys again. Seeing as the tracks are from only 1 1/2 LPs, there is a lot more material waiting to be re-issued. Buy the C D and encourage a LAKE to put out some more!
THE WALLIS COLLECTION
BOB WALLIS & his STORYVILLE JAZZMEN
Lake LACD 127 2000 20 tracks 61 min
Travelling Blues, Sur Le Pont D'Avignon, Nature Boy, Homeward Bound, Lord Let Me In The Lifeboat, On Ikla Moor Baht'at, Three Live Wire, Make Me A Pallet On The Floor, Baby Doll, Yellow Yellow Moon, La Rosita, Temptation Rag, Dodger, Panama Rag, Cornet Chop Suey, Indiana, Kansas City Man, Sweet Lorraine, All Of Me, S'Wonderful
This CD completes the full release of the three LPs by the band that were put out by Pye 1960-62. During that period, Dougie Richford and his wonderful 'skating' clarinet was replaced by reedsman extraordinaire Al Gay (after Bob's professional band disbanded in 1964, Al resurfaced playing in Long John Baldry's Hoochie Choocie Men).
Al makes his appearance on the last 13 tracks of the CD and his influence is marked. Gone are the novelty tunes Bob was renowned for, and the hard punching Storyville sound changes to a multifaceted style that tended towards mainstream. These 13 tracks are from the LP 'The Wallis Collection'. In 1962 or '63, I had bought some of the singles put out by the new Storyville Jazzmen line-up and had been blown away by Al Gay's soprano sax playing. I therefore determined to find out if they had an LP out. I found 'The Wallis Collection' at Readings, Clapham Junction Approach, but I was disappointed by what I heard. I put it back in the rack and bought an album by the Clyde Valley Stompers instead.
In 1962 I was a typical teenager, in that I not only knew everything, be it jazz, motorcycles or whatever, I had a capacity to hate things with an intensity I now find hard to generate. Then I hated Mods, scooters and jazz bands that used a tenor sax and/or an electric guitar. So now I am in my 50's and the hormones have at last stopped raging how do I find the Al Gay inspired Storyville Jazzmen? Well I quite like them, though I must admit preferring the original line-up and their style. But the final 13 tracks really are a showcase for Al Gay, with the others backing him in much the same way as the Louis Armstrong All Stars were really Louis and his backing musicians.
My one regret with this CD is that the singles of Bob Wallis and his Storyville Jazzmen that featured Al Gay are not included. I would give my eye teeth to get unscratched versions of them, but I suspect I am just whistling for the moon!
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