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WEST JESMOND RHYTHM KINGS

SHAKE 'EM LOOSE

Lake LACD45 1995, 18 tracks, 70 min

Worn Out Blues, Cushion Foot Stomp, Anytime, Tree Top Tall Papa, Frog-I-More rag, Take Your Pick, Dead Man Blues, Shootin' The Pistol, Sadie Green, The Vamp Of New Orleans, Oh Baby !, Gatemouth, Someday Sweetheart, Shake 'Em Loose, Cole Smoak, Lovey Come Back, Papa Dip, Travelling Blues, My Little Bimbo.

My love of jazz goes beyond the narrow spectrum of New Orleans. My first album was 'Best of Ball Barber & Bilk', but my next was 'The Temperance 7 1961'. I had a fascination for the Temperance 7 and their style of 'hot jazz'. Unfortunately as the years rolled by they became more and more 'high camp' and the music suffered as a result. Yes I still buy their material, but I always feel cheated. Now, at last, I have found a replacement band who play in that idiom, one worthy of my full admiration; Mike Durham's West Jesmond Rhythm Kings. From the second they cut in with a driving 'Worn Out Blues' till they sign off with the light hearted "My Little Bimbo Down On The Bamboo Isle' they never fail to please. Unlike the T7, you never get the impression that they are anything other than sincere in their playing. In the sleeve notes the band say that they are surprised to find themselves being asked to record for such a noted jazz label as Lake. Myself I find it surprising they weren't asked before; this band is too good to be left to obscurity. If you like classic hot jazz persuade the one you love to buy you this CD for Christmas or your birthday, you deserve it (even if you don't, Mike Durham and his boys deserve your support), so don't delay, order this CD today. Me ? I have found an earlier CD in Jazz Mail's catalogue for my beloved to treat me to !


WEST JESMOND RHYTHM KINGS

JAZZ LIPS

Lake Records LACD119, 1999, 20 tracks, 73 min

Sunset Café Stomp, Kansas City Stomps, Cryin' For The Carolines, Sensation Rag, Riverside Blues, Lonesomest Gal In Town, Stevedore Stomp, New Orleans Shuffle, Lamin' Mamie, Mandy Make Up Your Mind, Ma Poule, Have You Ever Felt That Way?, Trombone Rag, Jelly Bean Blues, Take Your Black Bottom Outside, Tack Annie, Fidgety Feet, Mister Will You Serenade?, Roll On Mississippi Roll On, Jazz Lips

The Boys Are Back In Town! Oops, sorry, that was Thin Lizzie. Well Thinn Lizzie's music may now sound dated, but the West Jesmond Rhythm Kings' hot jazz fails to date, and the quality of the band fails to fade.

There are not quite so many obscure tunes on this CD as on their earlier ones, but I did finally find out the words for 'Cryin' for the Carolines'! An interesting variation from their normal style is the Original Dixieland Jazz Band's Sensation Rag played very much in the style of the ODJB 's 1918 recording that I have. Another ODJB tune is, 'Fidgety Feet', this time, however, the treatment is very unique in that the boys play it as a banjo duet.

Mention the West Jesmond Rhythm Kings, and I am lining up with my money in my hand. They are 100% class, and I can't get enough of them. Hopefully there are many others of my ilk out there, because that will mean Lake Records will keep on issuing their CDs.


MIKE DURHAM'S WEST JESMOND RYTHM KINGS

CHICAGO BUZZ

LAKE LACD74 1997, 18 tracks, 68 min

Mama's Gonna Slow You Down, Big Boy, Anywhere Sweetie Goes, Sweet Emmalina, 2:19 Blues, Down Among The Sugar Cane, Chicago Buzz, Breeze, Brownskin Mama, Candy Lips, The One I Love Just Can't Be Bothered With Me, Oh Sister Ain't That Hot?, That's My Stuff, Shout 'em Aunt Tillie, Magnolia's Wedding Day, Angry, Sweet Substitute, Wa Wa Wa.

Just where does Mike Durham keep on finding all the band's unusual material from? Of the 18 tracks, I have recordings of nine by other bands, most only once. The sleeve notes say that the band's philosophy is to play not just the classic numbers from the '20s and sometimes the '30's, but also to dig out from obscurity many of the neglected gems of the jazz age that can be found lurking in old sheet music or junk shop 78 rpm records. Well, I have often haunted junk shops, as well as second hand record shops and I don't seem to have either the luck, or persistence that they have. I know that the '20s and '30s saw a high output of written music, but the West Jesmonds still astound me with what they first find, and then play to their public. I won't linger on the fact that I think the West Jesmonds are the cats whiskers when it comes to '20s hot jazz, as I have said it before when reviewing their CDs. I will say that the quality is still there, and this time they are joined by that fine reeds man Norman Field, who gives the band an added dimension. Another must buy for any hot jazz fan, in fact a must buy for any jazz fan. Buy so that you too can get a Chicago Buzz from one of Britain's top jazz bands!


WEST JESMOND RHYTHM KINGS

TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT MINE

Stomp Off CD1245 1993 20 tracks, 74 min

Sweet Mama, Papa's Getting Mad, Baby, Beale Street Mama, Nobody But My Baby Is Getting My Love, My Baby, Ding Dong Blues, Here Comes My Blackbird, Sweet Little Papa, Black Eye Blues, Bimbo, Papa De-Da-Da, Shanghai Lil, Oriental Man, Too Sweet For Words, Livin' High (Sometimes), Mean, Mean Mama, Blues For J.W., Take A Good Look At Mine, Shake It And Break It.

Leader Mike Durham says that he formed the West Jesmond Rhythm Kings to establish a 1920s style band that would "stick to its guns" and perform unusual material, some of which had not seen the light of day since the original 78 issues. Well I am pleased that he did, and that he has not compromised. The music deserves to be dug up and shown the light of day again, and in the hands of this excellent band it sparkles. The band plays in a 'hot jazz' style reminiscent of Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers, combining light orchestration with wild improvisation. What surprises me about the band is that it is an amateur one. They sound so professional that I had to read the album notes twice before I accepted that fact. I am not going to mention any of the tunes, or band members - all are spot on. If you ever see any recording by this band, buy it.


WEST JESMOND RHYTHM KINGS

JUBILEE STOMP

Lake LACD 173 2002, 18 tracks, 70 min

Forty & Tight, Stay Out Of The South, My Cherokee Maiden, Aeoleus Rag, I Hate To Lose You, Flat Foot, Piggly Wiggly, Mad, Dreaming The Hours Away, Coontown Chimes – Original Cakewalk, Thinking Of Me Thinking Of You, Pickin’s, Don’t Tell Me Nothing ‘Bout My Man, Let’s Misbehave, Come Back Sweet Papa, Hot Lips, Where That Old Man River Flows, I’m Getting My Bonus In Love

As the sleeve notes say ’Why, you may ask, is this CD entitled "Jubilee Stomps" when that fine tune by Duke Ellington is nowhere to be found on it?’ Well it was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee for those who do not hold allegiance to her (though our North American cousins south of the 40th parallel are more than welcome to forgo their rebellion and re-join the fold).

I regularly check the Lake records Web site to see if WJRK have a new album out as I find them such a delight I can never, ever, have enough of their material. And what material it is. Whilst there may be a tune that occasionally pops up in a jazz band’s repertoire such as, ‘Forty & Tight’ and ‘Flat Foot’, the rest is rare and even obscure (wouldn’t you love to send a copy of ‘Coontown Chimes’ to the pompous Dutchman who is NZ’s Race Conciliator? How about ‘Piggly Wiggly at the Policeman’s Ball?). With a wonderful band, great range of tunes and cover notes that are so very amusing and enlightening, this CD is a must for anyone who likes good music, jazz fan or no. I really feel that the WJRK truly captures the spirit of the 20s and the Jazz Age: fun, fun, fun. What was that? ‘Let’s Misbehave!’ Oh, all right then. No, honestly, and it is not just me that thinks so. Recently the Youth Group at our Chapel ran a ‘Gangster’s Night’ where they all dressed up as wannabe Al Capons and gangster’s molls. They asked me to supply the music. I gave them a selection, expecting them to pick the Bonzo-dog Do Dah Band mix as it was gimmicky, or the Temperance Seven , or perhaps the Spenser’s Wash Board Kings, but no, they only wanted to play the West Jesmond Rhythm Kings CD after CD until I ran out and they then put the first one back on again whilst they packed up to go home. Who says that today’s youth lacks taste?

A final aside: when I hear the first few bars of ‘Where That Old Man River Flows’ I thought they had the title wrong as I thought they were playing ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’!

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