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



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KEN COLYER

Live at York Arts Centre

Upbeat URCD 210

 

 

 
1. You Gotta See Mama Every Night
2. At a Georgia Camp Meeting
3. Lonesome Road
4. Maple Leaf Rag
5. My Blue Heaven
6. When I Leave the World Behind
7. Maryland, My Maryland
8. St Philip Street Breakdown
9. Tiger Rag
10. Goin’ Home
Ken Colyer – Cornet, vocals
Sammy Rimington – Clarinet, alto sax
Barry Palser – Trombone
Ray Smith – Piano
Stu Morrison – Tenor banjo
Alan "Jinx" Jones – Bass
Colin Bowden – Drums

This album fails to answer a question that has been puzzling me for years: why is Ken Colyer held in such high regard that it almost amounts to sainthood? Ken’s rigid ideas about jazz may have attracted those who like fundamentalist views, but those ideas led him to adopt a rather stilted mode of playing based on the style of musicians that Colyer regarded as authentic. This results in music that is played with conviction but, judged dispassionately, is no better than what is produced by hundreds of other bands playing New Orleans or traditional jazz (and I’ve played in quite a few such bands).

On this album there are lots of wrong notes from cornet and trombone, and Colin Bowden’s thumping bass drum is far from subtle, although it can’t prevent the music from speeding up in such places as the piano solo on Maple Leaf Rag. Ken Colyer’s relaxed, fluid cornet style has a certain appeal but he so often sounds quavery and uncertain that his playing hardly inspires confidence. Sammy Rimington is the exception from these criticisms, as he was (and is) a genuinely talented player, as you can hear in his expert feature on St Philip Street Breakdown.

This live CD, recorded at York Arts Centre in 1972, effectively conveys enthusiasm from the band and the audience, although the recording emphasises the banjo and drums at the expense of the piano and bass. The album will please Colyer fans, who tend to accept anything from "The Guv’nor". Perhaps we should make allowances because Colyer went through many periods of illness. However, even after you make allowances, you may conclude that the musical standard is not very high.


Tony Augarde

 



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