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Vintage Cy Laurie
Royal Garden Blues
All The Girls Go Crazy ‘Bout The Way I Walk
See See Rider
Willie The Weeper
SOL Blues
Milneburg Joys
St. Louis Blues
Tiger Rag
Dippermouth Blues (version 1)
Careless Love
St. James Infirmary Blues
Snake Rag
Just Gone (version 1)
Weary Blues
When You and I Were Young Maggie
When The Saints Go Marching In
Savoy Blues
Steamboat Stomp
I Want Every Bit Of It
Just Gone (version 2)
Keyhole Blues
Oriental Strut
You Made Me Love You
Jelly Bean Blues
Atlanta Blues
King of The Zulus
Dippermouth Blues (version 2)
Alan Elsdon (tpt); Sonny Morris (tpt and cnt); Cy Laurie (clt); Graham Stewart (tbn); Terry Pitts (tbn); Pat Hawes (pno); Ted Ramm (pno); Ann Varley (pno); Ian Armit (pno); Diz Disley (bjo); Brain Munday (bjo); Stan Leader (bass); Peter Mawford (dms); Beryl Bryden (vcl)
Recorded 1955-56
LAKE LACD 242 [70:22]

Lake continues its fine reclamation work by trawling through the mid-1950s Cy Laurie back catalogue and turning up with these unusual sides. I wasn’t aware that the majority were released anonymously and were probably recorded for the American market. Fortunately Lake’s full colour centre spread booklet reprints the LP covers and what an amazing bunch of pseudonymous names they are; Dixieland Five Plus Two (obviously shadowing the Firehouse Five) the Hot Rod Six Plus Two, Jerry Road and his Dixielanders and most improbably of all, The Space Cadets. The sleeves themselves bring their own array of visual enjoyment – a sporty blonde in leggings and a large felt hat running on the spot; a Matisse-coloured cartoon band and a film noir collection of serious minded pencilled jazzers.

So much for the background and covers. What the supposedly American recipients of these records wondered when they played the discs one can only imagine. Far from the Firehouse Five or hard-bitten Chicago barrelhouse we have solid New Orleans Delta. Clearly one of the stipulations of the recording sessions was that the tunes – all favourites – should be short and snappy. Most hover at around the two-minute mark – some indeed time in at less. This means that arrangements are basic sometimes to the point of brusqueness and the band doesn’t get much opportunity for solo space. Nevertheless within these constraints the Laurie band certainly manages to build up a head of steam. Elsdon is particularly good with the mute – "talking" with hints of Bubber Miley. Laurie was immersed in Johnny Dodds and one of the pleasures of the disc is to hear him searing away or binding the ensemble with practised arabesques. Graham Stewart completes the front line for all the 1955 tracks and his ensemble work on Weary Blues is especially notable.

When You and I Were Young Maggie is buoyant à la Bunk and there are strong hints of Turk Murphy and maybe also George Webb in Snake Rag – the determined heaviness of the rhythm section for one. Later tracks are longer but slightly less well recorded and see pianists Ted Ramm replace Pat Hawes. The following year Sonny Morris replaced Elsdon and Terry Pitts dropped in briefly on trombone – with Ann Varley and then Ian Armit subsequently taking the piano stool. Morris sounds more in the Armstrong school than Elsdon and Pitts was an erratic player – his solo on Keyhole Blues is very frivolous. Nevertheless when the band is allowed to stretch out we hear some fine things – including a sort of Indo-Dodds fusion from Laurie on King of the Zulus, on which track Stewart plays some booting trombone.

All this is most diverting and shows Laurie’s band in, for me, something of a new light.

Jonathan Woolf


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