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Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen and Skiffle Group - 1956

LAKE LACB241 [68:16]



Dippermouth Blues
All The Girls Go Crazy
Maryland My Maryland
The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise
Uptown Bumps
Blame It On The Blues
Creole Song
Chrysanthemum Rag
Snag It
Thriller Rag
Black Cat On A Fence
The Old Rugged Cross
Walking With The King
Home Sweet Home/Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart
Old Riley
Down Bound Train
Stack O' Lee Blues
Muleskinner Blues
Ken Colyer (trumpet and vocals); Ian Wheeler (clarinet); Mac Duncan (trombone); John Bastable (banjo); Dick Smith (bass); Mickey Ashman (bass); Ron Ward (bass); Colin Bowden (drums)
rec. 1956


Here we have the Classic Colyer band which sees us over the period from bassist Dick Smith’s departure and Ron Ward’s arrival – an event that took place between the March and November 1956 recordings. Dippermouth Blues brought back memories; it was one of the first jazz records I ever heard, enshrined in a Scrapbook of British Jazz LP and saw Colyer nestling alongside Fred Elizalde, Spike Hughes, Nat Gonella and newer upstarts such as Chris Barber and the Mulligan-Melly ensemble. Its vibrant, unrelenting drive always appealed to me though not I think so much to Lake’s Paul Adams who is lukewarm about these March tracks. Apart from The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise which I have to agree is too motoric and unyielding I rather like the vigour and single-mindedness of them – raw and hot. Even Bowden’s Vesuvian drumming appeals.

Then we have the Club Session with Colyer, a supposedly all-live concert date – which actually consisted of two sessions at the Railway Hotel in West Hampstead, one with audience and one without and the latter having applause dubbed in. The band stretches out here with Colyer’s focused and lyrical lead to the fore and with Wheeler’s tightly coiled vibrato and terse acrobatics adding immeasurably to the success of the dates – and indeed the band. The Colyer band specialised in Rags, as Lake has had many occasions to remind us – and Colyer’s decisive note placement was also a tonic in this kind of thing. The easy shifting front line patterns and solo spotlights, with dependable Mac Duncan’s underpinning strongly featured, were well worked out by now, and the band sounds entirely convincing in its chosen milieu.

The last four tracks feature the Skiffle band. There’s an element of cowpokery in Down Bound Train but Stack O' Lee Blues is much better and acts as a kind of analogue to recordings by such as Bechet and Champion Jack Dupree. Lake has retrieved a number of Colyer’s Skiffle sides, not least those with Alexis Korner – here he’s joined by Bastable, Ashman and Bowden.

The transfers sound first class and as usual Lake’s notes set the biographical scene very well. A final note to collectors; these tracks were previously issued on LACD 1, 6 and 7. This disc now replaces those out-of-print titles.

Jonathan Woolf


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