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ANOTHER EVENING AT JIMMY RYAN'S with the RAMPART ST. RAMBERS

WILBUR de PARIS

JAZZ CRUSADE JCCD 3061 2001 13 tracks 60 min

Prelude In C# Minor, There's A Girl In The Heart Of Maryland My Maryland, Martinique, At A Georgia Camp Meeting, The Pearls, Milenberg Joys, Florida Blues, Twelfth Street Rag, Blame It On The Blues, Alexander's Ragtime Band, Fiddle Up Your Ragtime Violin, Waintin' For The Robert E Lee, South Rampart Street Parade

A contact of mine, here in NZ, was boasting to me recently about some 'classic' jazz CDs that he had bought very cheap from 'The Warehouse'. My old speedway and jazz mate, Bob Andrews up in Auckland, had seen them too and broke the habit of a lifetime and splashed out a wad of cash to get one of everything on offer! Myself, I rarely go in The Warehouse as low price normally means low quality, and I had been stung on some of their cheap CDs before. I made an exception this time and I went in to see what I could buy, only to find that all that was left at my local branch was a Johnny Dodds double CD for NZ$6, which I bought and have appreciated ever since. Anyway, back to the contact who first mentioned the bargain CDs to me: amongst the CDs was a double by Wilbur de Paris. My contact seemed so fond of this album I had trouble getting him to take it off so that I could hear what else he had acquired. To be honest, by the end of the afternoon I knew the tunes on the dammed CD off by heart!

This CD is not a Warehouse 'el cheapo', but rather a very interesting release of a live recording made in 1952 at the now defunct New York jazz spot, Jimmy Ryan's.

Given the recording technology at the time, these tracks are very clean and balanced, especially for live tracks. The quality is such that they allow you to appreciate what a fine band Wilbur and the Rampart Street Ramblers were. Big Bill Bissonnette, in his sleeve notes, says that many at the time said that Wilbur and the band played 'black Dixieland', rather than revivalist traditional jazz. Ok, so you get the feeling that the music is 'predefined', rather than improvised, but it is very nice to listen to and has sufficient 'grunt', 'groan' and 'moan' to be really classed as traditional jazz rather than Dixieland. All this is, of course, assuming that the earlier critics were using 'Dixieland' as a derogative term for staged and orchestrated traditional jazz.

I have never been to New York, and I certainly never went to Jimmy Ryan's, but with this CD in my collection I now know what I missed! Thanks Big Bill; loved the CD and hope that this review will encourage others to take a trip to Jimmy Ryan's to listen to Wilbur and the boys laying it down in fine fettle.


DE PARIS IN EUROPE

WILBUR DE PARIS

JAZZ CRUSADE JCCD 3082 2003 11 tracks 55 min

I've Found A New Baby, Minorca, Royal Garden Blues, Charleston, Beale Street Blues, That's A Plenty, Sister Kate, High Society, The Pearls, Woverine Blues, Battle Hymn Of The Republic

The earlier Jazz Crusade CD of Wilbur's that I reviewed came from when he was at his zenith, this one is from near his nadir. The sleeve notes indicate that the tracks are from 09 June 1960 and were recorded in Antibes, France.

I found the band to be a disappointment and nowhere near the quality of the 50s incarnation I enjoyed on the other CD. In fact only Wilbur on trombone and Sidney de Paris on trumpet remain of the earlier band. Sid is backed up by Doc Cheatham on second trumpet (I have a review of one of Doc's last CDs when he was in his 90s elsewhere). Not being an expert in either of these gentlemen it is impossible for me to determine who is playing the better breaks.

Are there good tunes? Well yes, though all bar, 'The Pearls', are very much jazz standards recorded by almost every other jazz band around. Don't let the first track, 'I've Found A New Baby', with its frenic pace, put you off., 'Beale Street Blues' is a fine number, with good ensemble and solo breaks and 'Pearls', although orchestrated, is well worth listening to.

One of the off putting things on the CD is the inclusion of non-standard traditional jazz instruments. 'Minorca', for instance, has both mouth organ and bassoon on it! On 'That's A Plenty' the drummer sounds as if he is using tin cans, but I wouldn't put money on it. The sleeve notes put the inclusion of these 'novelty' items down to de Paris wanting to appear 'sophisticated' as a counter to declining interest in traditional jazz. This could be true as a similar trend appeared in Britain in the mid to late 60s. All that happened of course was that traditional jazz fans stopped listening and modernists said it wasn't way out enough and the bands that followed the trend failed to meet any market.

Should you buy the CD? Well it depends on whether you are a jazz historian, in which case you must; or a traditional jazz lover, in which case don't. My copy? Well I have a mate who has a lot of Wilbur de Paris and I know just what to give him for a present this Christmas!


WILBUR DE PARIS

I’VE FOUND A NEW BABY

JAZZ CRUSADE JCCD 3094 2004 19 tracks 71 min

THE SHEIK OF ARABY 1, THE SHEIK OF ARABY 2, I’VE FOUND A NEW BABY 1, I’VE FOUND A NEW BABY 2, BLACK & BLUE 1, BLACK & BLUE 2, CHANGE OF KEY BOOGIE 1, CHANGE OF KEY BOOGIE 2, JEEPERS CREEPERS, QUIET PLEASE, CLIFF’S BOOGIE BLUES, YOU’VE GOT ME WALKIN’ & TALKIN’ TO MYSELF, BOURBON STREET PARADE, FRANKIE & JOHNNY, IN A PERSIAN MARKET, THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR THE SUNRISE, CHANGE OF KEY BOOGIE, WAITING FOR THE ROBERT E LEE, I’VE FOUND A NEW BABY

This is a very interesting and mixed CD. The first 8 tracks (4 tunes, 2 versions of each) from 1944 pre-date the De Paris band, but feature both Wilbur on trombone and his brilliant brother Sidney on trumpet. The style is typical de Paris in that there are a few ensemble sections but the music consists mainly of a string of featured solos. The chance to hear the de Paris brothers and a favourite clarinetist of mine Edmond Hall, is too good to miss even if your preference is for ensemble playing. Having the alternative versions of tunes back to back with the originally released version allows you to compare the variations in arrangement and the individual’s interpretation of the tunes when they are playing solo.

Tracks 9 to 12 also from 1944 feature an extended front line that is often dominated by Sydney Bechet, who plays on both clarinet and soprano sax. The solos are very nice but the front line with two reeds players, and electric guitar joining the de Paris brothers is cumbersome in ensemble and the phrase ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave’, kept jumping into my mind.

The final tracks have the band as it is best known. It is back to a 3 man front line with Omer Simeon on clarinet. The style is nearer to the first tracks and we are blessed with ‘Change of Key Boogie’ and ‘I’ve Found A New Baby’ being repeated. This enables the listener to see how settled the new line up is, even if I do miss Edmond Hall’s, ‘skating’ clarinet, and what is more, the final versions are longer than the earlier tracks too.

As I said an interesting and mixed CD and one well worth having if you are a traditional jazz lover and essential if you are a de Paris fan.

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