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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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Non-Stop Flight.
Don Burrows and The Mell-O-Tones play great music of the Swing Era
The Mell-O-Tones, directed by Philip Sametz, featuring Don Burrows, clarinet and alto flute
Recorded at the Eugene Goossens Hall, Sydney, August 2004
ABC JAZZ 982 9885
[75.34]

 

Let’s Get Together
Non-Stop Flight
All or Nothing at all
Don’t be that way
At Last
Honeysuckle Rose
Moon Glow
No Love, No Nothin’
Amapola
Maria My Own
Manha de Carnaval
There Goes My Heart
Jungle Dreams
Autumn Serenade
Lover, Come Back To Me
Yours
I Guess I’ll Have To Dream The Rest
Slap That Bass
What is this Thing Called Love?
Let’s take the Long Way Home
At Sundown

That fine Australian clarinettist Don Burrows, a pioneering jazz musician in his native country and one who’s worked with the cream of international stars, joins with the Mell-o-Tones and Philip Sametz for some engaging swing. You can characterise the band as a repertory one; they employ "period" vocals that owe something to Sinatra and his contemporaries, sometimes it’s true some of the more schmaltzy ones – Philip Sametz fulfilling both roles. But they add some neat touches; there’s a cornet soloist, Geoff Power, and a violinist, Rosemary Byron whose obbligatos add colour and interest.

Burrows has been a guest soloist with the band before and they work well together. He’s an impressive clarinettist, managing to display a mastery of an intransigent instrument even in his late seventies. The arrangements are many and various but it’s good to see Jack Mason’s 1940s charts get an airing – not least No Love, No Nothin’ which has apparently never been recorded before.

Equally it’s good to hear the languid rhythm of the "Interlude" features of Manha de Carnaval and There Goes My Heart. There are numerous nods throughout to Artie Shaw, of course, and whilst there’s no real attempt to replicate Shaw’s sense of restless innovation, the band certainly pays due homage. Note Burrows’ splendid work on Walter Donaldson’s At Sundown, where his upper register work is untroubled by the registral demands.

There are good band solos from trombonist Jim Elliott and from Glenn Henrich whose doubling on vibes is greatly to the band’s advantage.

There are full notes with good paragraphs on the songs, on arrangers and their arrangements and the lyrics are given as well – a good touch. ABC is good at this in their Classical division and it’s good to see that they’re equally discriminating across the board.

Jonathan Woolf



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