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The Incredible McJazz –

Al Fairweather and Sandy Brown’s All Stars

LAKE LACD229 [62.04]


Listen With Mammy
Wooden Top
Come Sunday
Main Sequence
Clarinet Walk
Willow Weep For Me
Satin Doll
Love For Sale
Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting
Portrait Of Willie Best
Wall Street Lament
Groover Wailin’
Johnny Is The Boy For Me
Blues Shoes
You’re Driving Me Crazy
‘Bye ‘Bye Blackbird
Al Fairweather- Sandy Brown All Stars
Recorded 1962 except the final two tracks, recorded 1955

Lake continues its excellent reclamation work with the latest instalment in their Denis Preston Record Supervision series. It also happens to be the Fairweather-Brown band, the reissue of whose discs has been one of the most heartening features of the last decade.

The recordings were made over two sessions in 1962. In addition to the titular leaders Tony Coe joined the front line for some tracks and Brian Lemon headed the rhythm section. The repertoire was a pleasing mix of influences – some originals, a Mingus, some Horace Silver influenced numbers, some straight-ahead mainstream, the blues. Throughout the playing is elevated and eloquent. Coe steams on his own tune Quarterin’ whilst Brian Lemon stretches out on the cod humorous inflections of Listen With Mammy. Brown is at his most eloquent in Love for Sale though in Come Sunday, his clarinet approximates Johnny Hodges’s Ellingtonian alto, though those yet to experience it may be surprised to hear Brown’s funky, down-home piano playing in Main Sequence.

Al Fairweather, with his rich full tone and incisive attack takes a surging solo over Jackie Dougan’s drums in Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting and plays with all his accustomed style. Trombonist Tony Milliner’s suave command can be best appreciated on the same number. One of the advantages of this set is the way in which the band is varied. Rather than a straight ahead blowing session, in addition to the six piece, Brown heads a quartet, Coe sits out some numbers, the drummers change (Terry Cox was the regular drummer) and guitarist Des McGovern joins in on several tracks. Textures are constantly varied, interest is constantly maintained.

The range of influences throughout is far wider than the more conventional band Brown led in earlier days as can be heard in the bonus tracks from 1955. There are hints of the hi-life music Brown so loved but this is a more traditional ensemble playing four enjoyably lightweight pieces. In one of them Fairweather even plays the slide trumpet.

Lake is to British jazz what Dutton and Chandos are to British classical music. This latest entrant in their distinguished catalogue can only enhance their name.

Jonathan Woolf

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