TERRY LIGHTFOOT'S NEW ORLEANS JAZZMEN
TERRY LIGHTFOOT'S NEW ORLEANS JAZZMEN 1959/65
DIXIE GOLD CD: 838 763-2 18 tracks, 60 min.
The Onions, I Wish I was in Peoria, Old Fashioned Love, Old Pull'n Push, Wild Man Blues, Top Gear, Ol' Man River, Creole Love Call, Kansas City Stomps, Nothing's Too Good For My Baby, County Blues, Riverboat Shuffle, 11:10 Blues, Rocking Chair, Copenhagen, As Long As I Live, Mack the Knife, Black Bottom Stomp.
In the late 50's and early 60's few of the jazz bands admitted that their music was Trad, Terry Lightfoot was always honest and the sleeves of his albums frequently called a spade: a spade, or should I say called his music Trad. The first jazz record introduced into our household was a Terry Lightfoot EP my father bought and played endlessly. By the time he had saved up enough money to add an LP to his collection 3 months later I knew every note on the EP off by heart. I have had a love / hate relationship with Terry ever since. Whilst capable of some delightfully simple interpretations and moving playing, he often slips into over slick commercial junk only the most crass mug punter would appreciate. This CD contains the Good, the Bad, and the Average, nothing Excellent.
Good tracks are: "The Onions", clean cut Trad, "Wild Man Blues", which despite some indifferent trumpet playing is still a very enjoyable trumpet / piano number (and I have always enjoyed listening to Colin Bates on piano), "Creole Love Call", a simple well balanced number, "11:10 Blues" a nice blues interpretation featuring all the front line (Ken Simms on cornet!), and "Rockin' Chair" the best of the vocal duets between Terry and Roy Williams that were such a feature of the band in the 60's (I notice from another album that Roy took both the duets and the tunes with him when he joined Alex Welsh).
Bad tracks are: "Top Gear" which is over orchestrated and very messy, "Old Pull'n Push" which is Trad at its worst (I seem to remember this as the theme tune for a TV programme) and "Country Blues" which is just plain messy.
All the other tracks are average Trad: ok for background but nothing profound. Just as a point of interest I was once told that Terry Lightfoot was a frustrated trumpet player, and he always seemed to have a different man on horn. The nine years covered by this CD features no less than six horn players, must be some sort of record. Which is more than be said of this CD.
TERRY LIGHTFOOT’S JAZZMEN
TRADITION IN COLOUR
LAKE LACD212, 22 tracks, 70 min
TISHOMINGO BLUES, YOU ALWAYS HURT THE ONE YOU LOVE, LADY BE GOOD, GREEN FOR DANGER, BLUE TURNING GREY OVER YOU, ORANGE BLOSSOM (ST PHILLIP’S STREET BREAKDOWN), YELLOW DOG BLUES, RED WING, THE OLD GREY MARE, BURGUNDY STREET BLUES, BLACK DIAMOND RAG, MOOD INDIGO, MY BLUE HEAVEN, BLACK & BLUE, PANAMA*, THE MARTINIQUE*, MARYLAND MY MARYLAND*, SNAG IT*, THE ONIONS, CONEY ISLAND WASHBOARD, THE WHISTLER & HIS DOG, OL’ MAN MOSE
As I have mentioned elsewhere, my father bought Terry Lightfoot’s EP Terry Lightfoot Plays Trad’ as his first 45rpm record, and thereby introduced me to the music I love so much. Terry played quite a large part in my traditional jazz experience as his appearances at the Battersea Park series of jazz concerts meant I saw him at least once a year for many years.
The problem I had with Terry, and still have, is that his constantly changing line-up (especially the trumpeter) meant that you never knew just quite how the band would sound. My favourite, and I feel most ‘purest’ jazz, is still that from the original EP with Kenny Ball on trumpet, John Bennett trombone and Colin Bates on piano (all of whom left to form the Kenny Ball Jazzmen and who were later joined by Paddy Lightfoot who moved from bass to banjo on leaving his brother's band). All four of those tracks (*) are on this CD and whenever I think of ‘Maryland my Maryland’, it is this version that fills my head. Of interest, the three other trumpet players on the CD are Colin Smith (later with Acker Bilk), Sonny Morris and Mike Peters. A family friend often said that Terry Lightfoot was a frustrated trumpet player. The notes suggest the same as the trumpet was Terry’s original chosen instrument, his switching to clarinet due to it being the only unallocated instrument in a newly formed band of teenaged jazz fans.
During my years in England my purchases of Lightfoot records was limited. The title album caught my eye when it was re-released on the budget Encore label in the late 60s, but there were so many other LPs in Readings of Clapham Junction’s racks I felt more worthy of my hard earned money, that I never bought it. However, the clever title and the themed selection of tunes stayed in my mind and when this CD was released I straight away bought it.
The music is a mixture of class traditional jazz, workman like Trad and a few throw-away commercial Trad tracks. Overall I think it was worth my buying as the good far out balances the indifferent. As a view of Terry Lightfoot’s career I feel it shews that, the earlier the vintage, the better the jazz, and I do have a later LP that confirms that opinion (this CD runs from 56-59). The review may sound a bit negative, and I don’t want you to have that opinion as I have enjoyed listening to it and I think it is the best representative CD of earlier jazz recorded by Terry and worth having in my collection.
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