Denise Lawrence & Storeyville Tickle



Lake LACD37 1994 12 tracks, 64 min

Papa De Da Da, Seven Golden Daffodils, The Way You Do The Things You Do, Saturday Night Function, Mardi Gras In New Orleans, Shady Green Pastures, Down In Honky Tonk Town, Wasted Life Blues, Let The Light From The Lighthouse, Around The Clock Blues, New Orleans Wriggle, Nice Feeling.

Despite what cynics would say: Christianity is booming. One sign of this are the numerous shops specialising in Christian books, and music. The thing that bugs me, however, is the blandness of the music on offer, very middle of the road mass production pop. Where are the albums of powerful classics, heavy rock, hot gospel, and of course jazz. Jazz must be the only music around with even the most unbelieving band including gospel items in their repertoire as a matter of course. For years I have been making compilation cassettes of jazz gospel music, but in recently a number of UK bands have been releasing dedicated gospel albums. One of these was a tape by Denise Lawrence & Storeyville Tickle. I was sufficiently impressed by this small group to buy their new CD as soon as it was released. Denise, or "Bossy Boots" as the band call her, has a distinct voice that often goes where you least expect it ! Tickle has a front line of reeds (1) and brass (1), a bit Spartan at times but there is no doubting the quality. The rhythm section roll along in fine fettle. Everyone just feeds off of the others and you can feel the pleasure that they obviously get from playing together. Some of the material is not your usual jazz standard, but giving a new interpretation to a tune is something of a Tickle speciality: the version of "Let The Light From The Lighthouse Shine" is far different from that on the earlier mentioned cassette. What I would like now, of course, is for that that cassette re-issued on CD.



LAKE LACD60 LA5060/C 1996 14 tracks 65 min

Can't Help Loving That Man Of Mine; Cottage For Sale; Honkytonk Train Blues; My Baby Just Cares For Me; I Want To Be Seduced; Iko, Iko; Booze & Blues; Somebody Else Is Taking My Place; Send Me To The 'lectric Chair; Jesus On The Mainline; Fish Seller; Keeping Out Of Mischief Now; Everything Happens To Me; Quincy St. Stomp.

I must confess that I can't help lovin' Mrs Lawrence and those boys of hers. Last year I returned to England for the first time in some 28 years. The traffic horrified me, so my wife and I travelled everywhere by the excellent train service. Twice we passed through the Storeyville Tickle town of Reading, and each time I wished we had been able to get off and drop into their resident jazz club at Holm Park, Sonning. This is a daring band that tries many different sorts of rhythm and style, yet manages to remain within the traditional jazz idiom. An extreme example of this is the old Dixiebell's hit of the early 60s 'Iko iko' played in an almost Latin style. I say almost, as it is still recognisable as traditional jazz, in much the same way as Acker Bilk's tunes that used Caygen rhythms. In two tunes, 'Somebody Else Is Taking My Place' and 'Everything Happens To Me' they threaten to get mainstream, but not quite. The latter is one of the 5 tunes that lack Denise's vocal contribution. The band stacks up well on its own, especially in 'Keeping Out Of Mischief Now', which has some beautiful soprano sax playing. But, in 'Everything Happens To Me', a tune which seems to go no-where, the Tickle have produced the first number that got me reaching for the skip button.

The star of Storeyville Tickle, and the CD is, of course, Denis Lawrence herself. Pouty, sulky, wistful, and exuberant by turns she makes spending money on CDs easy. The German magazine, Der Jazzfreund, feels that Denise and Storeyville Tickle are amongst the top ranked British jazz bands over the past decade. I will drink to that!