Jazz Crusade JCCD-3025 1996, 16 tracks, 72 min

Beale Street Blues, Good Old New York, Sidewalk Blues, My Home Is In A Southern Town, Sweet Substitute, Burnin' the Iceberg, Jungle Blues, My Gal Sal, Mournful Serenade, The Animule Ball, Dirty & Dirty, Oh Baby, Someday Sweetheart, Deep Creek, Blue Lou, Don't You Leave Me Here.

Before I say anything else about this CD, let me just get this off my chest: "this CD is fantastic!" Put three of Ken Colyer's best sidemen in a band, add premier trumpeter, Alan Elsdon, season with three excellent players in the rhythm section and you know it has to be good even before the disc spins. Trombone player Geoff Cole and clarinettist (though on this album reeds player), Tony Pyke, I believe were the two front-line players who best complimented Ken Colyer in his New Orleans style Jazzmen. Here they get to vary their style and play some hot jazz, though not quite in the way that Jelly Roll Morton would have done it. According to the cover notes, Big Bill Bissonnette only allowed a quick rehearsal before launching the band into the session. The way they all hang together you would never believe that, though Pyke, Cole and pianist Pat Hawes spent many years together playing with the Gov'nor. That Alan Elsdon was improvising and not playing to an arrangement I can vouch having tapes of him working through the opening track with his own band. Big Bill boasts that he only records 'spontaneous jazz'. This is spontaneous then, but so smooth and stylish, struth it is good. I won't waste any more time extolling this CDs worth. Trust me; it is one of the best on the market and it belongs in every traditional jazz lovers collection. The only thing that worries me is that the cover pictures show how much some of my favourite jazzmen have aged. It made my wife wonder if Geoff Cole is still capable of doing the old soft shoe shuffle he used to do on stage when he played with Ken in the late 60s.



JAZZ CRUSADE JCCD3047, 1999, 17 tracks, 72min

The Minor Drag, Curse Of An Aching Heart, Cabin In The Sky, What's The Reason?, Lu Lu's Back In Town, Honey Hush, Truckin', Rosetta, Black & Blue, Christopher Columbus, I Used To Love You, Two Sleepy People, Your Feet's Too Big, Yacht Club Swing, Ain't Misbehavin', Music Maestro Please, Oh Lokka There - Ain't She Pretty?

Fats Waller, jazzman or entertainer? Both of course! I am too young to have seen the man live, but I have seen film clips. Who can forget the suggestive leer and knowing wink that Fats used to draw you into his private joke? But he was no lightweight, either physically or musically, and you dismiss him and his type of jazz at your own peril. One of the blessings in recent years has been the re-issue of much older material. An extra blessing is the music industries under valuing of old jazz masters, such as Fats. The result has been a plethora of cheap CDs, and I have many. So, does having the originals lessen the need to have this CD? No. If you have read any of my reviews of the Ken Colyer band from the late 60's, you will know how much I appreciate the playing of trombonist Geoff Cole, reeds man Tony Pyke, and pianist Pat Hawes. They are no-one's slave, nor are they mimics. This CD belongs to them (and Ken Matthews on bass and Colin Miller on drums). The basic style may be Fats Waller, but the interpretation is their's. Geoff's rasping, yet oft delicate, especially on mute, trombone is fully complemented by Tony's reed playing; his alto style is unique to himself and one of the nicest around to listen to. Is Pat Hawes up to being Waller on piano? As I said, the style is Fats', but the interpretation isn't. The only area where Pat makes no attempt to take on Waller is in the area of the asides and comments the man was so famous for. Here Tom Waller makes his contribution, and does so excellently.

This is another fine album to sit alongside the, Geoff Cole & His Hot Seven, tribute to Jelly Roll Morton. And if I can say that after having heard the album for the fourth consecutive time, it must be good!