July 22, 2015

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 32 ---   7-22-2015
Climax Blues Band                    1969-1972
Chicken Shack part 2               1969 & 1970
Blind Faith                                    1969

In 1967 Colin Cooper, harmonica and vocals as well as saxophones, and Peter Haycock, at the time considered a 16-year-old guitar prodigy sharing in the vocals, were in a soul group playing as the Gospel Truth when they decided to assemble a Blues band.  As Haycock later informed Melody Maker, “We started playing Blues for fun and the thing sort of turned around on us; it became serious.” 

By the time of their debut LP, they had recruited drummer George Newsome, bassist Richard Jones, rhythm guitarist (and occasionally organist or bassist) Derek Holt and keyboardist Arthur Wood and used the band name Climax Chicago Blues Band as the tile of the album.  Between the recording dates of September 27th and November 25th of 1968, Jones had left to return to college so Holt took over all bass duties, and we took the first ten of its twelve tracks in the order originally issued as this show’s opening set.  The disc was put out by Parlophone’s EMI label, who signed the group earlier that year, and was released in February of 1969.

The second album, Climax Blues Band Plays On, was also released in 1969 (recorded in June), and from it Hey Baby, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, Flight, and Crazy ‘Bout My Baby open today’s fourth set, followed by Please Don’t Help Me, Reap What I’ve Sewed, Alright Blue? and Cut You Loose from the 1970 UK release A Lot of Bottle, which came out with minor differences as The Climax Blues Band in its 1971 American issue.  By the time the album was recorded in four days in August, all but schoolteacher Wood retired from their day jobs to rely solely on their music.  This LP was the first after EMI moved the group to their Harvest label.  Disc and Echo quoted Haycock, “Musically we’re not trying to do really clever things … all we are really is a stomping band.”

With the British Blues wave considered to be ebbing, the band felt that the being labeled as a Blues band was restricting their audience so for their next UK disc, recorded in May and June and tentatively titled Come Stomping, their name was changed to Climax Chicago.

Towards the Sun and That’s All were from that disc, now titled Tightly Knit, released 1971 UK and 1972 US, while our final entries, You Make Me Sick and Shake Your Love, came from the Rich Man album (still going by Climax Chicago in the UK), recorded in August and released in 1972 on both continents.  For the Rich Man sessions, the band was reduced to four members as John Cuffley (formerly a drummer with Cooper and Haycock in Gospel Truth) replaced Newsome as he and Wood left the group. As with many European ensembles of the era, the band ran into difficulties acquiring visas and work permits, therefore cancelling their first American tour scheduled for June of 1972, but they were able to make it later in the year.

While I’ve listed all the individual albums for you, this entire set was taken a “best of” styled CD, The Harvest Years, 69-72.  After these recordings, the band moved from the EMI label but had continued popularity just not in the Blues vein, so I have decided I have sufficient of their music for our purposes.

After pianist and half of the vocal team Christine Perfect left Chicken Shack to pursue her recent marriage to Fleetwood Mac’s bassist John McVie and a solo career of her own, the band was down to a trio led by guitarist / vocalist Stan Webb fronting the rhythm section of drummer Dave Bidwell and bassist Andy Silvester.  Very soon after, Miss Perfect (now Mrs. McVie), was replaced by keyboardist (mostly playing organ) Paul Raymond.  The group stayed together for two albums, matching the output during Christine’s time, and from them come the two sets we hear today.

The September 1969 LP 100 Pound Chicken is the source for today’s first Chicken Shack set and, while The Things You Put Me Through and Maudie were released as 45s, their second set is comprised of tracks from the July 1970 album Accept.  Between the two LPs, the band had toured with Savoy Brown and after the release of the second one Paul Raymond opted to join Savoy Brown after Harry Simmonds, manager of both bands at the time, terminated the entire ensemble of Savoy Brown with the exception of his lead guitarist Kim Simmonds.  This departing trio of Roger Earle, Tone Stevens and Lonesome Dave Peverett was the group that soon would become Foghat.

Toward the end of Cream, there were rumors of Stevie Winwood joining the super-group and that somewhat came true as he joined with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker in Blind Faith, but after all the hoopla and possibly because Jack Bruce was no longer in the ensemble (bass being played instead by Rick Grech) the resulting album was disappointing.  However, some 45 years later, I found five of the original album’s six tracks worthwhile listening for today’s show.

Mean Old World
Going Down This Road
You’ve Been Drinking
Don’t Start Me Talking
Wee Baby Blues
Twenty Past One
A Stranger in Your Town
How Many More Years
Looking for My Baby
   The Climax Chicago Blues Band  

The Road of Love
Look Ma, I’m Cryin’
Reconsider Baby
Weekend Love
Midnight Hour
Horse and Cart
The Way It Is
   Chicken Shack  

Had to Cry Today
Can’t Find My Way Home
Well All Right
Presence of the Lord
Sea of Joy
   Blind Faith

Hey Baby, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
Crazy ‘Bout My Baby
Please Don’t Help Me
Reap What I’ve Sewed
Alright Blue?
Cut You Loose
Towards the Sun
That’s All
You Make Me Sick
Shake Your Love
   The Climax Blues Band

The Things You Put Me Through
Telling Your Fortune
Andalucian Blues
Smartest Girl in Town
I’ve Been Mistreated
How Am I Doing It?
   Chicken Shack  

July 8, 2015

Development of the British Blues and; Rhythm
  --- show 31 ---   7-8-2015

Free    (+Dupree)                             1968-70
John Dummer Band                           1969
Duffy Power BBC                      1968-73 + 1994

You might recall that bassist Andy Fraser was dating Alexis Korner’s daughter Sappho  when Alexis referred him to John Mayall.  After a brief period (six weeks) as a Bluesbreaker, Andy joined with drummer Simon Kirke, guitarist Paul Kossoff and vocalist Paul Rodgers as they formed the band Free in April of 1968.  Our first set comes from their debut LP, Tons of Sobs, as well as a tune from a BBC session and a jam that was not released until much later.  All the tunes were recorded in 1968.

Kossoff and Kirke also played on Champion Jack Dupree’s Blue Horizon LP From New Orleans to Chicago, along with Stuart Brooks on bass guitar, all three being members of the Black Cat Bones when the tracks were recorded in April of 1968.  Duster Bennett shows up on My Home is in Hell and Juke Box Jump.  Johnny Almond’s baritone saxophone can be heard on I Haven’t Done No One No Harm.. Both are also on Black Cat Shuffle, this time with Almond on tenor sax.

The band had two more studio albums before Free Live, which may or may not have been recorded all at one concert but was not put together for release until after the band’s decision to break up in 1971.
John Dummer, in his youth a listener to both Blues and Modern Jazz, fronted the band Lester Square and the GTs in 1964 which also included the Yardbirds’ pre-Clapton guitarist Top Topham until they took o9n a stint in Germany.  Upon returning to the U.K., he answered a Melody Maker ad for a band looking for a vocalist (a later similar ad brought in pianist Bob Hall)   The band’s initial lineup had drummer Dave Bidwell, bassist Peter Moody and guitarist Roger Pearce and gigged as The John Dummer Blues Band.

Bidwell left in December of 1965 to move on to Chicken Shack and later Savoy Brown, and when his replacement Dave Elvidge departed in January, Dummer sat himself behind the drum kit while still handling the vocals.  Moody left in March of that year and the quartet now included Dummer, Hall, Pearce and replacement bassist Tony Walker.  Walker’s 14-year-old sister Regine added some vocals on a 1966 recordings which surfaced in 1995.

Hall was in and out of the band as he also became a part of Savoy Brown and maintained his full time day job and Dummer for a while was relieved from drum duties, but the band really took shape when Walker and Pearce left at different times in 1967 and were replaced by bassist Iain “Thumper” Thompson and guitarist Dave Kelly.  Steve Rye played harmonica with them for a short while and was followed by John O’Leary, fresh from his stint with the earliest iteration of the Savoy Brown Blues Band.

One of the band’s gigs was at the popular Nag’s Head Pub including after Mike Vernon took it over and named it after his new record label, the Blue Horizon Club.  As Dummer told Beat Instrumental, ”We were playing semi-Blues things … it was just a simple basic band which we started because of the interest the music held for us.  We were just playing at this club for our own amusement, but gradually it became more important to us.”

The group signed a recording contract with Mercury and decided they wanted to bolster Kelly’s bottleneck style as  Tony McPhee shared both guitar and lead vocal duties with Dave.  In July of 1968 the label released the single featuring Traveling Man and 40 Days and scheduled September for the release of the debut album.  By the time the LP (Cabal) was released in January, McPhee had left to establish his own label and form once again his Groundhogs.  O’Leary also moved on, but both can be heard (along with Dave’s sister Jo Ann on a couple of vocals) on our first Dummer Band set.

Adrian “Putty” Pietryga was brought in by the next recording session and Bob Hall was once again available.  The band’s next 45 was Try Me One More Time, which includes an interesting although uncredited piece of violin work, and Riding at Midnight, noteworthy because the band had a two week English tour that summer backing its author, Howlin’ Wolf.  These tracks were included on the LP when it came out in September 1969 and we include the first seven tracks from the album in order on our second Dummer set.  Shortly after the album’s release, Kelly left the band, citing too much touring and not enough time to write music as the reason, but he did recommend multi-instrumentalist (fiddle, guitar, harmonica, piano and vibes; could he have provided the violin on the second single?) Nick Pickett as his replacement.  As I read up on John Dummer, the new band appears to have moved away from the Blues, so this seems an apropos time to end this segment.

We return for a follow-up with one of our favorite vocalists, Duffy Power, whom we first heard from way back in our fourth episode of this seemingly never-ending saga.  (But that doesn’t mean we’re running out of good music by any stretch of the imagination!)  This set is comprised of BBC takes and includes guitarist Alexis Korner on the first two tracks and sax man Dick Heckstall-Smith on the two that wind up the set.
Walk in My Shadow
Waitin’ on You
The Hunter
I’m a Mover
Guy Stevens’ Blues
   Free   (CD: Tons of Sobs)

I Need Love
Just a Feeling
No Chance with You
After Hours
Young Fashioned Ways
Low Down Santa Fe
When You Got a Good Friend
Welfare Blues
Hound Dog
Daddy Please Don’t Cry
   The John Dummer Blues Band   (CD: Cabal)

A Racehorse Called Mae
Roll On
My Home is in Hell
Black Cat Shuffle
I Haven’t Done No One No Harm
Juke Box Jump
   Champion Jack Dupree
     (CD: From New Orleans to Chicago)

Gin House Blues
Every Day Since You Been Gone
Dusty Road
That’s All Right Mama
City Woman
Little Soldiers
Sky Blues
Little Boy Blue
   Duffy Power   (CD: Sky Blues)

Fire and Water
Ride on a Pony
Mr. Big
Trouble on Double Time
All Right Now
   Free   (CD: Free Live)
Few Short Lines
Bullfrog Blues
Try Me One More Time
Money And Fame
Reconsider Baby
Riding at Midnight
*Memphis Minnie   (time permitting)
Ain’t Gonna Work No More
   John Dummer’s Blues Band
     (CD: John Dummer Band)

June 24, 2015

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 30 ---   6-24-2015

American Folk Blues Festival     1966
John Mayall: USA Union                     1970
American Folk Blues Festival     1967
John Mayall: Jazz Blues Fusion     1972

With the fourth of July coming up before our next show, it’s time again to play some American Blues artists as they traveled across the pond to make the European tour known as The American Folk Blues Festival.  Having already covered the first four editions, we are now set for the 1966 and 1967 lineups.
The set taken from 1966 starts off with a couple of pianists; Roosevelt Sykes returns after his appearance at the last year’s concerts and the lesser known Eurael “Little Brother” Montgomery and both are backed up by this year’s exceptional rhythm section of drummer Freddie Below and bassist Jack Myers.  They were both part of one of Chicago’s most highly respected combo, the Aces, led by Louis Myers (not in this concert) on either harmonica or guitar, depending on who might be fronting the band.
Most notable where Louis was merely the guitarist was when the group backed a couple of harmonica players.  The Myers brothers originally went by the title the Deuces until they came across he jazz-tinged drummer Below, who would have a long career as one of the city’s most sought-after studio men.  As the trio was playing upstairs at a private party, a passerby went up and asked to sit in; this was the start of their time spent backing Junior Wells, a function they were serving at the time of this concert series.  They were with Junior right up to the time Little Walter received recognition enough to depart Muddy Waters’ gigging band (although he was still Muddy’s first choice in the studio) and the band went with him as Little Walter and his Jukes.  It didn’t work out that badly for Wells either as Muddy kept him working as his club harmonica player.
Although Louis Myers is not here, one of the few guitar players to be a better choice would be Otis Rush.  Along the classic lady singers of the Blues would be Sippie Wallace and the “front porch” style of acoustic Blues are represented by Robert Pete Williams and the vocal duo of guitarist Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell on mandolin.

This year, instead of mixing in some American artists as they were backed up the local British performers, we will take a listen to a couple of albums where the well known British singer, composer, harmonicist and piano player John Mayall had moved to the States and began using some of this country’s top talent to continue the ever-changing direction of his presentation of the Blues.

When we last saw Mr. Mayall in November, we wound up with his 1968 album, Blues from Laurel Canyon, the first LP where he stopped referring to his band as the Bluesbreakers.  On that disc, he did one song (The Bear) talking about how he had met the southern Californis group Canned Heat, highly relevant to today’s show because two of the players on USA Union came directly from that band. 

Guitarist Harvey Mandel first came to our attention from his appearance on Charlie Musselwhite’s first LP, Stand Back, before he had a few albums under his own name and ultimately wound up with Heat.

For my money, the best Blues bass player is Larry Taylor going back to his days with Canned Heat and through a handful of LPs with Mayall.  The last I heard, “The Mole” was still playing with some of LA’s best Blues bands, most often on standup bass.

We have passed over a couple of albums but will come back to them before the end of this seemingly never-ending project, most notably 1969s Turning Point where Mayall experimented with a drummer-less four piece ensemble.  This is again the model for this album and the interesting choice for the fourth member is violinist Don “Sugarcane” Harris, who had made a minor impact in the R&B world as half of the team Don and Dewey.

For the 1967 concert selections, this one of those live albums that puts the intro to the next song on the tail end of the last one and for that I apologize; it is truly a pet peeve of mine.

Okay, enough complaining already!  For the core of the electric Blues, we have drummer Odie Payne (Jr.?) whom I know from Magic Sam’s band and, I believe before that, Elmore James’, an unfamiliar name in bassist Dillard Crume, the vocals of both guitarist Hound Dog Taylor and harp man Little Walter as well as the fine singing of Koko Taylor, surely Chicago’s best Blues lady of the time.  And plenty on the acoustic side with the guitars and vocals of Bukka White, Son House and Skip James as well as the duo of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee.  Brownie even throws in kazoo on a couple of the tunes.

Larry Taylor is back again holding down those heavy bottom notes as Mayall takes on an excellent Jazz front line including Freddie Green on guitar, Blue Mitchell on trumpet and Clifford Solomon manning the saxes.  Ron Selico is behind the drum kit and Mayall never tries to restrict his bass player so this album, Jazz Blues Fusion, is probably my favorite of Taylor’s recordings.

We have just completed a successful Blues marathon over the weekend but if you didn’t get a chance to acquire one of the B.B. King t-shirts they will be available probably through the weekend.  Of course, I am always happy to take your calls whether you wish to pledge or not.  Jim Thomas has once again outdone himself and this will be among my favorite Blues marathon t-shirts (and I have all but one from the last 24 years), but don’t take my word for it; check it out at our website, KKUP.org.

And so many thanks to all who took part in the marathon this year, from the pledgers to the phone answerers to the DJs to the musicians who played live to the sound man to the many businesses that helped us out one way or another.  And don’t forget Gil de Leon who both opened up and closed down the event; he probably felt like he was here the whole time!

Running the Blues
   Roosevelt Sykes
I Keep on Drinking
   Little Brother Montgomery
You Shouldn’t Do That
   Yank Rachel and Sleepy John Estes
All Your Love
My Own Fault
   Otis Rush
Checkin’ Up On My Baby
Tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson
   Junior Wells
Suitcase Blues
   Sippie Wallace
   Robert Pete Williams
Flip Flop and Fly
Roll ‘em Pete
   Big Joe Turner

Nature’s Disappearing
You Must Be Crazy
Night Flyer
Possessive Emotions
Where Did my Legs Go?
Took the Car
Deep Blue Sea
My Pretty Girl
Off The Road
   John Mayall

Aberdeen Blues
   Bukka White
Got a Letter This Morning
   Son House
Hard Luck Child
   Skip James
I’m Gonna Move Across the River
   Brownie McGhee
The Sky is Crying
   Hound Dog Taylor
You Be So Fine
   Little Walter
Wang Dang Doodle
What Kind of Man Is This
   Koko Taylor
Walk On
Rock Island Line
   Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee

Exercise in C Major for Harmonica,
    Bass and Shufflers
Country Road
Mess Around
Dry Throat
*Got to Be This Way (time permitting)
Good Time Boogie
   John Mayall

June 10, 2015

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 29 ---   5-27-2015
Duster Bennett                 1968
Ten Years After               1968

Just some quick, somewhat unorganized notes about today’s show:

We start off today’s show with a recording of a June 28th concert at the Fillmore West by Ten Years After which was provided by one of my listeners and likely unavailable almost anywhere else.  TYA’s first two albums were released in 1968 so this has to be from their first American tour.  We’ll be using Help Me and Spoonful which had appeared in studio form on their 1968 debut LP (simply titled Ten Years After) and on a later set Crossroads, which was recorded during those same sessions but did not appear until Deram released an album of outtakes in 1972.

Sandwiched in between the first two songs is a version of Rock Me Baby, but the vocal is too low in the mix to know how faithfully they followed the original B.B. King version.  If I had the option to not include it in the set I might have gone for that, but the disc I got this from was not divided by title, just one long track of the original concert.  Another fault of the recording is that the bass is too low and only shows up on the three solos Leo Lyons takes, two of which we will hear.  Essentially the guitar is overly dominant but the excesses of Alvin Lee were pretty much what audiences paid to hear, myself included.  I had the pleasure of seeing them twice before the release of their performance at Woodstock, but likely not on this first tour.

The fourth and final song of our opening set is I May Be Wrong, but I Won’t Be Wrong Always, a Count Basie tune (I did not know that until Alvin announced it at the start of the number) which comes from their second release Undead, recorded live at Klook’s Kleek.  Like the Woody Herman tune (Alvin tells us that on the LP) Woodchopper’s Ball,

I opted for the superior musicianship and recording quality of the Undead album.  From that same CD, I’ve chosen Summertime / Shantung Cabbage over the Fillmore version and the Undead original version of I’m Going Home, the tune that kinda made the band famous when they performed it at Woodstock, after which the band went downhill into a pop-rock mode.  So that’s today’s opening and closing sets, but we also have a twenty minute set from their debut studio LP release right in the middle of the show.

I believe there was a lot of criticism of Alvin Lee as just a sped up imitation of Eric Clapton but that was okay by me.  In addition to the outtake Crossroads (which Clapton had done in the studio with the Powerhouse and live with Cream), there were two more songs previously recorded by Eric that appeared on the first lp -- I Want to Know (Powerhouse) and Spoonful (Cream).

I want to thank Mike for providing the Fillmore session and Bobby G for editing it down for me.

I never really knew anything about Duster Bennett aside from the fact that that he was a harmonica playing buddy of Peter Green and that he was often referred to as a tortured soul who authored one of Peter’s favorite songs, Jumping at Shadows.  I often wanted to look into his sound but always had other priorities for my purchases, until I found this comprehensive 2CD set of his Blue Horizon recordings.  I must admit I had been missing out on an interesting part of the late 60s British Blues scene.

Bennett was the only English one man band that I am aware of.  To back up his vocals, Duster would pick his guitar with a harmonica rack resting on his chest while he kept rhythm with a bass drum and hi-hat, but he also played Blues harp in the familiar handheld style when he performed in band situations.

With four exceptions, our first set has Bennett’s one man setup.  On the songs Times Like These, Shady Little Baby and the Magic Sam tune My Love is Your Love, Duster’s guitar and harmonica essentially front Fleetwood Mac – Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie.  For Slim Harpo’s Raining in My Heart he is joined by a couple of Blue Horizon label mates from Chicken Shack, drummer Dave Bidwell and Andy Silvester providing more vocal.

Likewise, the second Bennett set is made up of his one man act except Talk to Me and Bright Lights, Big City, which add the Yardbirds pre-Clapton guitarist Top Topham and vocalist Stella Sutton.  The credits also list both Peter Green and Tony Mills on bass guitar.

Duster fell asleep as he was driving home from a gig and died in the ensuing accident.

I May Be Wrong but I Won’t Be Wrong Always
Help Me
Rock Me Baby
   Ten Years After

Hard to Resist
It’s a Man Down There
Trying to Paint it in the Sky
Worried Mind
Jumping at Shadows
Forty Minutes from Town
Times Like These
Got a Tongue in Your Head!
My Love Is Your Love
Raining in My Heart
Shady Little Baby
Jumping for Joy
   Duster Bennett

I Want to Know
Adventures of a Young Organ
Love Until I Die
Feel it for Me
Don’t Want You Woman
I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes
Losing the Dogs
   Ten Years After

God Save the Queen / She Lived Her Life
      Too Fast
Just Like a Fish
What a Dream
Just Like I Treat You
Talk to Me
My Babe / She’s My Baby
Honest I Do
Bright Lights, Big City
Fresh Country Jam
   Duster Bennett

Woodchopper’s Ball
Summertime / Shantung Cabbage
I’m Going Home
   Ten Years After

May 27, 2015

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 28 ---   5-13-2015

T.S. (Tony) McPhee and the Groundhogs                 1968-70
Colosseum                                                                  1968-71

I would like to thank Jim Thomas for covering for me two weeks ago.
No write-up for this show, just a playlist.  It consumes a lot of my time and I’ve had no one mention they enjoyed it lately, so if you would like me to continue just tell me and I will do so happily once I know someone is actually reading it.

Rocking Chair
Early in the Morning
Walking Blues
Married Men
No More Dogging
Man Trouble
You Don’t Love Me
   The Groundhogs

Walking in the Park
Plenty Hard Work
Beware the Ides of March
Backwater Blues
Those Who Are About to Die

*B.D.D.   (add time permitting)
Express Man
Natchez Burning
Light Was the Day
   The Groundhogs

Butty’s Blues
The Valentyne Suite:
     Theme One – January’s Search
The Valentyne Suite:
     Theme Two – February’s Valentyne
The Valentyne Suite:
     Theme Three – The Grass is Greener

Strange Town
Darkness Is No Friend
Thank Christ for the Bomb
   The Groundhogs

April 21, 2015

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 27 ---   4-22-2015     (Jazz)

Ronnie Scott                               1956, 1957  
Tubby Hayes                              1957, 1966
Ken Colyer                                 1950, 1951
Humphrey Lyttelton                   1948, 1951, 1956
Johnny Dankworth                     1955-1961

What with KKUP’s annual Jazz Marathon so close at hand, it is once again time for me to put in my two cents on the Jazz that I enjoy.  In keeping with our ongoing Brit Blues theme, I kept the talent from within the U.K.  Unlike last year when I tried to cull some jazzier tunes from John Mayall’s recordings, etc., I have purchased CDs from some of the true Jazzmen whose names kept coming up in my readings and have found an excess of show-worthy music for today.

The opening two sets feature a drummer I have come to enjoy: Phil Seamen.  Ginger Baker spoke of him in reverential terms and considered him the main drummer he wanted to emulate.  It is unfortunate that the few albums put out in his name are not readily available but I do have a few sessions with him as a sideman.  His career was hampered by his drug use and, while many were impressed with his skills, he was just not reliable as far as showing up to gigs.

I am not necessarily a fan of drum solos but felt that the best way to focus attention on Seamen was to open with Phil’s Tune, a number that, as it progresses, pushes the drummer more and more center stage.  The set is culled from a two CD anthology of Ronnie Scott’s 1956-1962 output titled Soho Blues and were originally released on the album Presenting the Ronnie Scott Sextet.  Recorded in July 1957, along with tenor saxist Scott and drummer Seamen, the players were Kenny Napper on bass, Derek Humble on alto sax and Jimmy Deuchar on trumpet.  Norman Stenfalt is pianist on most of the set but Stan Tracey is heard on Bass House and Squeeze Me.


Today’s blog is a little bit shoddy as I intended to only post the playlist and then kinda changed my mind and then put in some half-assed commentary, although the Dankworth entry is pretty much complete but not proof read.

Anyway, I left out Tubby Hayes completely on the initial posting and that is unconscionable because he impressed me the most.  Our second set of the day pairs him up with Seamen, bassist Jeff Clyne and pianist Terry Shannon on three numbers.  We only focus today on his rapid tenor sax playing but he was also fluent in the languages of the vibraphone and the flute.

We heard a little bit about Ken Colyer on our very first show of this series as part of our Skiffle presentation.  Crane River Woman sounds much like Skiffle to me except for the more Trad Jazz instrumentation and its 1950 release predates the Skiffle rage by a few years.  The rest of the set is more Trad, or Dixieland as it was known here, and came from the earliest of four CDs in a set which includes a full disc of his Skiffle sessions from 1954-1957.

My first purchase of a CD by Humphrey Lyttelton was inspired by the fact that Ian Armit, longtime piano player with Long John Baldry, was included on the 1960 recording sessions (also, its title Blues in the Night didn’t hinder the decision), but it was enjoyable enough to add the 2CD set of previous recordings, As Good as it Gets, from which the music presented today was gleaned.  His early music strikes me as maintaining much of the Trad Jazz feel but later more akin to Swing.  It was primarily to distinguish this difference that I included the dates on the playlist, and note that I put the three pre-50s tracks at the end to kinda break up the two styles of British Jazz.

Humphrey was born in 1921 at Eton College, where his father was a professor.  While attending the school himself, trumpeter Lyttelton put together a band as he did again when he moved on to Sandhurst.  After service in World War II, he joined George Webb’s Dixielanders in 1947 but by 1948 he was again running his own group and had made his first recordings.  The Lyttelton ensemble was part of two tours by Australia’s Graeme Bell band and he did several recordings with them,

In 1949, the Lyttelton band backed the legendary American alto saxophonist Sidney Bechet on a recording session, after which Bechet praised the playing of Humphrey’s clarinetist Wally Fawkes.  Also noteworthy was the Grant-Lyttelton Paseo Band who added Caribbean rhythms to their Jazz base.

Humphrey’s first of many autobiographies, I Play as I Please, sold well after its 1954 publication and it was around this time that he moved away from the Trad Jazz (not so coincidentally matching the departure of Fawkes in 1956), much to the consternation of his current fans, and he became just as popular in the mainstream Jazz field.

Alto sax player Johnny Dankworth had one of the most successful British Jazz bands of the fifties and sixties in a career that spanned from the 1940s into the new millennium.  Johnny began with lessons on the violin and piano but switched to clarinet after hearing Benny Goodman Quartet recordings before he turned sixteen.  It didn’t take long for him to take up the alto saxophone after listening to Johnny Hodges’ records.  Johnny got training at the Royal Academy of Music in London, but they did not encourage his desire to play Jazz.  Very much a contemporary of Ronnie Scott, the two men served together as musicians aboard ocean liners specifically to take in the Jazz scene when they ported in New York City.  Upon returning to London, the pair had been so impressed with Bop that they opened the Club Eleven in 1948 to present the music to Londoners.  Johnny would soon join the Tito Burns Sextet as well as perform and arrange for the Ambrose band.
Dankworth actually got to play with Charlie Parker in 1949 at the Paris Jazz Festival, and it was Parker’s recommendation that hooked him up with the legendary Sidney Bechet for a short tour of Sweden.  Johnny wound up being voted Musician of the Year for 1949.
The first band of his own, the Johnny Dankworth Seven, would hold together until 1953 but when their debut performance at the London Palladium as part of the Ted Heath Sunday Swing Session on March 5th 1950 was met with less than a rousing reception, Dankworth realized the way to survive would be through compromise, toning down the Bop influence. 
While the 2CD set The Best of Johnny Dankworth contains tracks dating back to 1953, all of today’s choices come from 1955 and later.  None of these include the vocals of Johnny’s soon-to-be wife Cleo Laine, who joined the group in 1951.  To my taste, many Jazz vocalists serve to clog up a free-flowing instrumental motif.  For the Blues, of course, vocals are an integral part of the story.  The couple would ultimately be knighted individually as Lord John and Dame Cleo for their contributions to the nation’s music scene, but Cleo would leave the ensemble in 1958, beginning an internationally successful singing career as well as transitioning into acting in musical plays, at least two of which were written by her husband.  In March that year, the two were wed.
From the seven piece band Johnny would expand to a 17 piece orchestra featuring three vocalists, Miss Laine of course being one of them.  The band performed their first American concert at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 3rd 1959.  According to a critic from The New York Times, ”Mr. Dankworth's group ... showed the underlying merit that made big bands successful many years ago – the swinging drive, the harmonic color and the support in depth for soloists that is possible when a disciplined, imaginatively directed band has worked together for a long time. This English group has a flowing, unforced, rhythmic drive that has virtually disappeared from American bands". 
His band also played at New York City’s prestigious Birdland and later joined Duke Ellington’s band for several concerts and even had Louis Armstrong join them onstage for a set of a concert at New York Lewisohn Stadium.  Johnny disbanded the orchestra in 1960, only to form a new one later in the year that continued until 1964.
In 1959, Dankworth became chair of the Stars Campaign for Inter-Racial Friendship, set up to combat the fascist White Defence League.  Also late in the fifties, Johnny expanded his list of accomplishments as he took on composing for film and television, most notably including the theme for The Avengers (used from 1961 to 1964) and the score for the 1966 movie Modesty Blaise.
1956’s Experiments with Mice opens our Dankworth set, a fun little number mimicking some of the jazz greats and very similar to the closing number from the following year., Big Jazz Story.  The second song of our set, African Waltz, hit #9 in its 21 weeks on the 1961 U.K. charts and Johnny granted Cannonball Adderly’s request to record it for the American audience. 
His 1964 album The Zodiac Variations included American artists Clark Terry, Zoot Sims and Phil Woods, among others, and he appeared as himself in the film All Night Long with Dave Brubeck and Charlie Mingus.  His British and European tours of the sixties included Nat “King” Cole, Sarah Vaughn and Gerry Mulligan while he also appeared in concerts and on radio with Lionel Hampton and Ella Fitzgerald.  Some of the other American Jazzmen he performed with included George Shearing, Toots Thielemans, Benny Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Hank Jones, Tadd Dameron, Slam Stewart, and Oscar Peterson.
Some of the British names I have become familiar with who appeared at one time or another in the Dankworth bands include comedian and musician Dudley Moore, trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar, trombonist Eddie Harvey, tenor sax man Don Rendell, guitarist John McLaughlin and tenor saxist Tubby Hayes.
Dankworth took over as his wife’s music director in 1971 and cut the band down to ten pieces before trimming it to a touring quintet in the early 80s.  Johnny maintained his friendship with Duke Ellington right up to his death in 1974, after which he recorded an album of symphonic renditions of Duke’s tunes and played with the Ellington band under the leadership of Duke’s son, Mercer Ellington.  Other symphonic recordings included with Dizzy Gillespie and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
In 1968 the Dankworths purchased Wavendon, an estate about 50 miles north of London, and converted the stables into a 300 seat concert hall.  In 2000, a larger version called The Stables was opened next to the original plot.  1969 saw the formation of their charitable Wavendon Allmusic Plan, presenting international performers with the goal of breaking down barriers between classical, popular and other music forms.  Another charity, the Wavendon Foundation, began in 1998 to financially assist both young musicians and organizations creating musical education programs.  As a professor of music at London’s Gresham College between 1984 and 1986, Johnny gave free lectures open to the public.
In order to reissue some of his past recordings (and some new ones as well), in 2003 Johnny set up his own Qnotes label.  Following an American tour with his wife, Johnny took ill in October of 2009 and passed away February 6th 2010 at the age of 86.  Both the Dankworth children are musicians, son Alec having played bass with his father’s band and daughter Jacqui, a vocalist.

Our closing set features Seamen along with bassist Lennie Bush and pianist Tommy Shannon in the Dizzy Reece (trumpet) Quartet with Ronnie Scott on Out of Nowhere (a tune I actually heard first as the title track of New Orleans guitarist Snooks Eaglin’s CD just about twenty-five years ago) and Scrapple from the Apple.  Again the tracks came from Soho Blues, originally released as an EP and recorded July 1956.  Much later, August 1966, Seamen and Hayes performed Night and Day (from a live five song CD of the same name) with bassist Bruce Cale and pianist Mike Pyne.

Scott and Hayes would combine in putting together the dual tenor ensemble Jazz Couriers, lasting between 1957 and 1959.  Maybe we’ll hear from them next year.

Phil’s Tune
Give Me the Simple Life
Squeeze Me
All This and Heaven Too
This Can’t Be Love
Bass House
I.P.A. special
Pittsburg Opener
It Don’t Mean a Thing
 (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
   Ronnie Scott (with Phil Seamen)

Tin Tin Deo
Sunny Monday
The Surrey with the Fringe on Top
   Tubby Hayes (with Phil Seamen)

Crane River Woman   1950
   Crane River Jazzmen & Ken Colyer
Savoy Blues   1951
Creole Song   1951
Hiawatha Rag   1951
Black Cat on a Fence   1951
Moonshine   1951
Salutation Stomp   1951
   Christie Brothers Stompers & Ken Colyer

*Skeleton in the Cupboard   1956
Echoing the Blues   1956
Sweet and Sour   1956
Love Love Love   1956
Swing Out (LIVE)   1956
Miss Jenny’s Ball   1948
Yes Suh!   1951
Randolph Turpin Stomp   1951
   Humphrey Lyttelton

Experiments with Mice   1956
African Waltz   1961
*Indiana   1955
Moanin’    1960
Idaho   1959
You Go to My Head   1957
Jim and Andy’s   1959
Kool Kate   1960
*Export Blues   1957
Big Jazz Story   1957
   Johnny Dankworth

Out of Nowhere
Scrapple from the Apple
   Ronnie Scott (with Phil Seamen)
Night and Day
   Tubby Hayes (with Phil Seamen)