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THE HAPPY PALS WITH BRIAN CARRICK

KID BASTIEN FOREVER KICK-ASS NEW ORLEANS JAZZ PARTY 2007

New Orleans North CD-07 2007 10 tracks 69 min

MY BLUE HEAVEN, WHEN YOU & I WERE YOUNG MAGGIE, LOVE IN BLOOM, BUGLE BOY MARCH, BRIGHT STAR, UNDECIDED, MOBILE STOMP, OVER THE WAVES, HOW ABOUT YOU, HIGH SOCIETY

When the respected, but little recorded, Kid Bastien died, many wondered if The Happy Pals would die with him, but reedsman Pat Tevlin took his trumpet out of its case, cleaned out the cobwebs and took his place. Many also wondered if Kid would be remembered by the traditional jazz fraternity, seeing as he was so reluctant to be recorded and thus was really only known for his live performances, but the clientele of Gossman’s tavern in Toronto, together with Kid’s friends and jazzmen around the world, decided that they would keep his memory alive by holding an annual ‘Kick-Ass New Orleans Jazz Party‘ in his honour. I’m still trying to work out why physically abusing a wild donkey should be seen as a good thing, but I suppose it is a Canadian foible.

The recording is live and although there are some rough edges, it is full of fun, verve, vim, vigour and good jazz. Pat Tevlin is not Kid Bastien, nor was Kid Batsien the same as Kid Thomas, but the similarity is there. Joining The Happy Pals for the party this time round is British reedsman Brian Carrick on clarinet & tenor sax. Any reader of my notes will know that I am not keen on a tenor sax in a traditional jazz band, but Brian Carrick often causes me to ponder if I am really right in my prejudice. His skill is matched by Happy Pals alto sax player, Toby Hughes, giving a fine example of his ability in the lower register during his solo break on ‘Undecided’ with Brian then coming back later on clarinet.

Another stand out track is ‘Over the Waves’ with a nice clarinet solo in an exciting version of the tune. ‘Bugle Boy March’ is an especial favourite of mine, particularly since I got my own bugle so that I could join in on it (but only when the wife is out of the house, of course).

One thing I appreciated on the CD, apart from the music, was the fact that each track had the date of publication for each tune. I was blown away to find that ‘When you & I were Young Maggie’ first came out in 1865.

Well, I thought this was a "spot on" CD and if only I had the money I’d love to get to their next party in memory of Kid Bastien when I would help them kick some arse (musically speaking of course) and join the fun they so obviously have at the event.

KID BASTIEN’S HAPPY PALS

LIVE AT GROSSMAN’S

Music Mecca CD 4004-2, 10 tracks, 71 min

JAMBALAYA, SING ON, SAMMY’S BLUES, KATS GOT KITTENS, IN THE UPPER GARDEN, PLEASE DON’T TALK ABOUT ME WHEN I’M GONE, SAIL ON SILVERY MOON, C’EST MANIFIQUE, BLUE & BROKEN HEARTED, LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULEZ

It is interesting how one thing leads to another (my interest in the English Civil War started with the film Zulu – A film about a Victorian colonial war incident leading to interest in a 17th C war between King & Parliament. For more details send me an Email, and when I have 3-4 hours to spend I will tell you!). I had heard of Cliff ‘Kid’ Bastien but had never actually heard him playing till I got hold of New Orleans Delight’s latest CD. The reality is, of course, I got the CD because I like NOD, rather than my desire to listen to material by a man with a discography that is in direct inverse proportion to his reputation as a jazz trumpeter.

Having got, listened to, and thoroughly enjoyed, the aforesaid NOD CD, I thought it would be nice to have a copy of the only other CD available of Kid’s work. This Accudub recording was put out in 1993 and I just knew that it would be hard to get, even via the second-hand outlets on the Web. So, I contacted Kjeld Brandt of NOD only to find that it has been re-released by Music Mecca!

‘Live at Grossman’s’ both impresses and disappoints.

The impressive part is the brilliance of Kid’s playing, the exuberance of his singing and the scope of the material the band plays (‘Now, that’s a tune you don’t hear often these days’ as Kid puts it).

What disappoints is the band. It is a combination of the other players and the sound mix. On the mix side, the banjo is too dominant and the piano and double bass almost non-existent, even when playing solo. The other problem is Roberta Tevlin’s trombone playing. Now, when playing a solo she sounds competent enough, but ensemble she disappears almost without trace. Why? Well I have spent a lot of time listening and my analysis is that both she, and tenor sax player Patrick Tevlin, have a similar stabbing and punchy style. Given that the tenor sax and trombone have tonal similarities, the more dominant sax overrides the trombone (similarly a soprano sax can ‘kill’ a trumpet when the players have a similar style). I’m sure if the tenor sax had been replaced by either a clarinet or alto sax the problem would not have arisen.

So, should one buy the CD? Yes, if you get the chance, do. Cliff ‘Kid’ Bastien is impressive and so is his choice of tunes. Given that he is only known to have issued 4 LPs, 1 tape and this and the NOD CDs you can’t be too fussy if you want to hear and be impressed by him. If, however, you wish to hear him at his best, then get the New Orleans Delight CD where the band and the sound mix are far superior.

HAPPY PALS

MOONLIGHT BAY with Dr Michael White

New Orleans North CD-010 2010 14 tracks 69 min

Je Vous Aime, Everybody Loves Saturday Night, I’ll Never Smile Again, Big Chief Battleaxe, Riverside Blues, Dinah, Moonlight Bay, Royal Telephone, Last Train To San Fernando, Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor, Tell Me Your Dreams, Maori Farewell Song (Now Is The Hour), China Boy, My Happiness

Happy Pals by name, Happy Pals by nature! Good quality club jazz in the traditional style where the name of the game is to enjoy yourself, whether playing or listening. With that denizen of New Orleans jazz, clarinettist Dr Michael White, joining Patrick Tevlin & the regular Happy Pals, pleasure and enjoyment is guaranteed. Recorded live at the 6th Kid Bastien Forever New Orleans Jazz Festival, 2009, the title track was included at the request of Dr Michael White, who has played the tune many times with the legendary Kid Thomas in New Orleans; Thomas being the inspiration of the late Kid Bastien.

A wide variety of tunes are on the CD. Some are well known jazz classics, others tunes that jazz bands sometimes play, whilst others are tunes I have never heard played by a jazz band before. I have heard one other version of ‘Now is the Hour’ but, being a Kiwi, I am pleased to hear it again!

Favourites? Well certainly the wild & swinging, ‘Everybody Loves Saturday Night’, a far call from the mid 50s version by the coloured contingent of the Cape Town Police my father owned (nor is ‘Last Train to San Fernando’ anything like Lonnie Donnigan’s skiffle version either). I am also very taken with ‘Riverside Blues’, always a favourite of mine it is true, but this version seems to allow all the band to shew themselves at their best. And ‘Moonlight Bay’ with Dr Michael and Patrick Tevlin excelling themselves and having the rest of the band rising to that excellence.

This CD is a good addition to any jazz lovers collection.

****

THE HAPPY PALS NEW ORLEANS PARTY ORCHESTRA

MISS NOONIE

New Orleans North CD-015 2013 12 tracks 73min

Over In The Gloryland, Far Away Blues, Apple Blossom Time, On The Road To Home Sweet Home, Blue Hawaii, I Couldn’t Keep It To Myself, Når Lygterne Tændes, Beneath Hawaiian Skies, The Old Rugged Cross, One Sweet Letter From You, Milk Cow Blues, Kid Thomas Boogie Woogie

Miss Noonie was a regular at Grossman’s Tavern, Toronto, Canada and was the ‘Umbrella Lady’ who led the parade every Saturday for decades. Days prior to her death a band came and set up next to her hospital bed and played all her requests. This CD is NOT a recording of that session. Rather it was a session from the 2011 Kid Bastien Forever Jazz Festival.

Rather than the normal Happy Pals’ sound this is more like a New Orleans marching band in party mood. It ain’t smooth - it is raucous, it ain’t sweet but it sure is fun. In addition to Happy Pals regulars there are many guests, including Janet Shaw, Brian Towers, Joe van Rossem, Karl Kronqvist and Kjeld Brandt. Just listen to the joy that just bursts out of the music on this album and the fun the audience was obviously having. Many of the tunes are Miss Noonie’s favourites, especially the hymns and her especial favourite ‘Kid Thomas Boogie Woogie’. My own favourite is ‘Milk Cow Blues’, but all the tracks are good to listen to. Sadly, since this was recorded Kjeld Brandt, one of the world’s greatest living New Orleans clarinettist, suffered severe strokes and will never play again.

You want a soft copy, rather than the CD. Both versions can be purchased from www.tevlin.ca or www.HappyPals.ca I understand this applies to all the albums issued by New Orleans North.

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