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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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Crotchet

TED HEATH & HIS MUSIC

Listen to my Music

LIVING ERA CD AJA 5459

 

 

 



      1. Opus One
      2. East of the Sun
      3. Bakerloo Non-Stop
      4. Donegal cradle Song
      5. On Ilkla Moor Baht 'AT
      6. Baia
      7. Turn on the Heath
      8. London Suite-a) Chelsea, b) Whitechapel, c) Limehouse, d) Bond St, e) Piccadilly, f)Soho.
      14. Deep Forest
      15. Pagan Love Song
      16. You Go to My Head
      17. Dark Eyes
      18.Harlem Nocturne
      19. Song of the Vagabond
      20. Listen to My Music
      21. Hindustan
      22. Lady Byrd
      23. Sophisticated Lady
      24. Lyonia
      25. Euphoria
      26. Cuban Crescendo
      27 Roumanian Roundabout.

      The watchword of the Heath Band in the period (1944-1950) when this was recorded was precision and in this aspect of the Big Band genre, they could equal any other band in the world. To make the band pay, Ted had to have a library that would please the dancers as well as the fans and often that was a big ask. The band of this period had everything, except a style of their own; many of the pieces reflect the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Ray Anthony and other contemporaries. The section work was brilliant, take track 7 as an example Turn on the Heath, all the sections play with perfect precision and intonation and there is a good tenor solo (Johnny Gray or Tommy Whittle?).

      I enjoyed hearing the band's version of Fats Waller's London Suite; the tunes are good and the arrangements imaginative. Ted appeared to be nodding in the Duke Ellington direction here!

      There are nice features for Pete Chilvers on guitar, an instrument Ted later dropped from the band, on track 16 and Kenny Baker on trumpet on track 17, it was also Kenny's arrangement. (Eat your heart out Ziggy Elman!)
      I liked the arrangement of Hindustan, a real flag waver.

      By 1949 a touch of Bebop was arriving with George Shearing's arrangement of Lady Byrd, which has a nice bone solo from Jackie Armstrong, who is also heard to good effect on Sophisticated Lady and some good piano from Norman Stenfalt. The band was beginning to loosen up and swing more and by the 50's it had developed a style that put it on a par with any Big Band anywhere. It was good to hear Euphoria again, the tune by Roy Kral and Charlie Ventura was on a Ventura LP on which both were featured. I'm sure the tenor player is Tommy Whittle this time!

      When Henry Mackenzie joined the band he brought another dimension, he is one of the finest clarinet players the UK has ever produced. Although he isn't featured here, seek out 'Send for Henry' on another Heath session.
      The last two tracks were obviously concert features and are perfect examples of precision Big Band section work.

      This CD is of the formative years of the Heath Band, which just got better and better. I hope LIVING ERA give us the next batch soon, but these examples are necessary listening for all Big Band fans.


      Don Mather




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