GEORGE WEBB'S DIXIELANDERS 1943-1947
GEORGE WEBBS DIXIELANDERS
Lake LACD 128 1999 21 tracks 55 min
Dippermouth Blues, Riverside Blues, New Orleans Hop Scop Blues, Come Back Sweet Papa, Bluin' The Blues, Hesitating Blues, Willie The Weeper, Original Dixieland One Step, Royal Garden Blues, Weary Blues, South, London Blues, Jenny's Ball, Muskrat Ramble, I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None Of Mt Jelly Roll, West End Blues, The Soldier's Lament, Tin Roof Blues, If You See Me Coming, Mahogany Hall Stomp, Get Out of Here And Go On Home
Anyone who has had anything to do with British traditional jazz will know of George Webb's Dixielanders, even if they have never actually heard them. The band saw its foundation at the Vickers Armstrong Armaments factory in Crayford, Kent during Wolrd War Two. Through a twisting series of coincidences the band was formed from a collection of jazz fans who learnt their music from records, and decided to try and play jazz for their own amusement. Soon their playing became well known and many young people were drawn to hear them and not a few, such as Monty Sunshine, went away to buy instruments and to start playing traditional jazz themselves. Their base was the Red Barn at Barnehurst, Kent. Today there is a plaque outside that proclaims that in 1941 George Webb's Dixielanders was the first band in England to play New Orleans jazz. Whilst some may dispute the claim, none will deny the influence that the band had in its short life from 1941 to 1948.
The tracks on the CD are from sessions in 1943, '45, '46, and '47. Having heard the band for yourself, you realise why they were such a key to the British jazz revival. The band changes from a 2 cornet lead a-la-king Oliver, to single cornet played by a young and vibrant Humphrey Lyttleton from 'West End Blues'; both styles are very attractive and true to the style of the jazz masters they were following. The sound quality varies from crude to reasonable. The first four tracks are from a small non-commercial run recorded in very primitive conditions that included someone have to lie in front of the drums to stop them 'walking' across the lino floor. The recording conditions for the remaining tracks improve, but all the tracks on the CD come from records rather than master tapes. If top gun sound engineer Paul Adams says this is the best he can get from the source material, I hate to think what the originals sounded like.
But this CD is not about sound quality; it is about a slice of history; it is about a band that was the prime mover, if not the source of the British revivalist jazz movement. To know British jazz you need to have and to listen to this CD. The sleeve notes are by George Webb himself. These extensive notes give an outline of the band's history and an idea of the British traditional jazz scene at the time. It can easily be argued that the notes alone are worth the cost of the CD!
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