Wednesday, 16 December 2009


Ask me what sort of jazz I like and I probably couldn't pin it down to one sort. Bebop would be at the top of a very long list. It has to be said though that the list changes week on week.

Certainly on the list but somewhere near the bottom would be "Trad" ( probably below "free jazz" but way higher than the music of Jamie Cullum).

So what possessed me the other day to buy three CDs, two of which can be defined as Trad (or in one case "Dixieland")? Answer: they were cheap, and I am weak.

We were in one of Leith's many many many charity shops (again). And came across a little "gold mine" of four or five jazz albums.

I had to get a couple (it's an illness I tell you).

First up is Sidney Bechet at Storyville. One of the true giants of jazz I suppose and a pioneer of the soprano sax (often confused by some people as a clarinet). A contemporary of Louis Armstrong and a product of the early Dixieland jazz bands. His stuff just swings joyously.

I had hoped that this being one of his relatively late recordings it would be very good quality. Well. It is and it isn't. It's a recording made by the piano player, George Wein, at the gig, and I don't know what the recording medium is but there's a few "hiss, crackles and pops" on it. But probably still better audio quality than a lot of Bechet stuff out there.

Next up was Jonah Jones at the Embers. Trumpet led quartet. Now, I like the British trumpet player Kenny Baker and this CD really reminds me of him. This is a full on 50's "trad" record. Good fast tempo tunes and a couple of blowsey trumpet led blues.

It also reminded me, when I was listening to it, to the sort of thing you used to hear Kenny Ball play on TV in the late 60's and early 70's. Only, I thought, without the singing. And then right on que half way through Basin Street Blues, Jonah lets rip with a couple of choruses. Thanks, but you needn't.

Last one was areal bargain. A double CD of Johnny Hodges and Wild Bill Davis. And this is a wee bit closer to "my kind of thing". Hodges was alto sax player for Duke Ellington for years and has a real soft syrupy sound from his alto. Strange then that my pick of the bunch is a Neal Hefti number made famous by Count Basie ("Lil' Darlin").

Drawbacks? Well one. I've never been a massive fan of the Hammond organ - I can take it in small doses but I couldn't sit and listen to it all night. Which is a shame because I could probably listen to Hodges all night.

So. All in all good value. But (ooh, there's a "but") I think these are CDs that will get played a couple of times and stored, perhaps to make the odd appearance, but they probably won't be regular visitors to the CD player.

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