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 I’m sure if the tenor sax had been replaced by either a clarinet or alto sax the problem would not have arisen.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.
NEW ORLEANS DELIGHT
LIVE RECORDINGS "SEASIDE JAZZKLUB" FEATURING CLIFF "KID" BASTION & GEORGE BERRY
Music Mecca CD 4024-2 2003 11 tracks 80 min
Algiers Strut, San Antonio Rose, Whining Boy Blues, Highways Are Happy Ways, John B Calypso, Gloryland, Blueberry Hill, Big Mamou, Last Mile Of The Way, Joe Avery’s Piece/Dippermouth Medley, A Thousand Goodnights
Kid Bastien: this English born Canadian trumpet player had a well earned reputation as a world class jazzman, but a very small discography. He wasn’t even going to do this recording as ‘All the best music has already been put down by the New Orleans guys.’ It was only through a friendship with NOD’s sound engineer, Jorgan Vad and Jorgan applying emotional blackmail, that this CD was made. It was just as well as only days after listening to the mastercopy and giving his approval for the CD to be issued, this unique jazzman died. Listening to this CD one wonders if he didn’t know that this CD was to be his obituary. On ‘Gloryland’ the words ‘tell them I‘ll be coming too’, get changed to ‘tell them I’ll be coming soon’. Add that to the lyrics of ‘Last Mile Of The Way’ and you become convinced that Kid had had a premonition of his coming death.
If you have never heard Kid Bastien, and unless you fortunate enough to have heard him live, that would be most of us, then this CD will let you know what you missed. Kid in many ways modelled himself and his own band on Kid Thomas and on this CD New Orleans Delight do an excellent job of fitting in with Kid Bastien’s style, to the extent that they sound much better than Kid Thomas does on the few tracks of his that I have.
Kid Bastien hated flying almost as much as he did having his music recorded. What finally persuaded him to go to Denmark and play with NOD was the fact that he would have the chance to play alongside an old mate, tenor saxophonist George Berry.
Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not keen on tenor saxes, especially in a traditional jazz band, and even more so in an extended frontline where it has to share space with a clarinet. This time, though, it works and works brilliantly. How much is due to George’s ability to fit in and how much is due to clarinettist Kjeld Brandt’s talent in working around other jazzmen, only those two gentlemen will be able to say.
This beautiful CD is well balanced in sound engineering, front to backline balance, featured guests to the rest of the band, popular and rarer tunes and types of rhythm employed.
From ‘Blueberry Hill’ with its gracious nod to the Fat’s Domino R&B version, to ‘John B Calypso’, to the street marching ‘Joe Avery’s Piece/Dippermouth Medley via gospel and dance music’, this Cliff ‘Kid’ Bastien led band (and I am sure that he did provide the lead whilst he was with NOD) will delight you. What was that? A delight? Yes, a New Orleans Delight!
Oh, and while you are listening to the jazz go down, why not read the excellent booklet that is included with the CD.
The above can be bought from: http://www.cdjazz.com
NEW ORLEANS DELIGHT with George BERRY & KID BASTIEN
COMPLETE CHURCH CONCERT IN SORGENFRI KIRKE
Music Mecca CD 4069-2 2005 80 min 12 tracks
Just A Closer Walk With Thee, I Shall Not Be Moved, How Long Has It Been, I’ll Be Somewhere Working For The Lord, San Antonio Rose, By & Bye, Rivers Of Babylon, Softly & Tenderly Jesus Is Calling, Take Your Burdens To The Lord, Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight, God Leads His Dear Children Along, Highways Are Happy Ways
Cliff ‘Kid’ Bastien, well loved, much admired, and little recorded, was persuaded to overcome his dread of flying and leave his adopted Canada to tour Denmark when Kjeld Brandt of New Orleans Delight dangled the bait of the chance to play alongside Cliff’s old friend and ex-band member, tenor player George Berry. Thank God he did, for within a very short period both of them had died and without the recordings made on that tour the jazz world would be much poorer.
All of the tracks on this CD are from a Sorgenfri Kirke concert the band performed in 2002. Some of the tracks have already been released on the Sorgenfri Concert Vol 3 compendium CD. This latest CD is, however, essential buying for all who love Kid Bastien, George Berry, New Orleans Delight, jazz in the Kid Valentine style, jazz gospel or just traditional jazz in general. It is even more essential in that since the Bastien/Berry tour both trombone player Bengt Hansson and pianist Goran Magnusson have left New Orleans Delight.
Everything I wrote about the previous CD of NOD with Kid & George stands. In fact the more I hear the recordings the more I love them. The style is that strange mix of relaxed and exciting that is rarely found, even in the jazz world where the exotic is common place. If this CD is not added to your collection you will be all the poorer for it. Let the moths out of your wallet and delight yourself with this great CD and let the music say it all.
The above can be bought from: http://www.cdjazz.com
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