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Fryer-Barnhart International All Star Jazz Band - If We Could Be With You

Rec. at The Theatre By The Lake, Keswick, May 2007

LAKE LACD 252 [72:73]





Fidgety Feet
If I Could Be With You
Wild Cat Blues
Down in Jungletown
Shout ‘em Aunt Tillie
Basin St. Blues
Black Bottom Stomp
1919 Rag
At the Devil’s Ball
Best Man
Ole Miss Rag
Jim Fryer (trumpet, trombone, vocals): Jeff Barnhart (piano, vocals): George Huxley (clarinet, soprano and alto saxophones); Gordon Whitworth (trumpet, vocal): Brian Mellor (banjo, guitar, vocal): Annie Hawkins (bass): Nick Ward (drums)

This is a good, solid, straight-ahead blowing session from the rather cumbersomely titled band led by Americans Jim Fryer and Jeff Barnhart. They were recorded in concert in Keswick and as usual from this source Lake’s set-up is vivid and full of detail. The repertoire is broadly what one would expect from a band of this type – Morton, Ellington, Dixieland standards. And the band encompasses well-known British players who mesh with the visitors with aplomb.

Bassist Annie Hawkins needs few introductions and she kicks things off with a fluent solo on Fidgety Feet. Fryer nails his colours firmly to the Teagarden mast in If I Could Be With You where his tribute is uncannily like Big T’s. Barnhart sings on this one – and as he’s shown before on this label he has a good line in Walleresque and other vocal charms. Gordon Whitworth’s trumpet solo though is fitful and his lip seems to have been giving him trouble on and off throughout the date. Fryer reprises the salute in the Teagarden favourite Basin St .Blues where Hawkins’s bowed bass behind Brian Mellor’s guitar is an attractive feature. Following the Teagarden there’s a tribute to another virtuoso instrumentalist in the shape of Sidney Bechet on Wild Cat Blues. George Huxley really goes to town on this own abetted by Barnhart’s stomping support. Similarly I rather like the Ellingtonian sound world they invoke on the canonic Shout ‘em Aunt Tillie – the arrangement is evocative without being over-fussy and there’s some neat Miley-like growling.

The band turns on the Jelly Roll style in Black Bottom Stomp – obligatory banjo included – and seem to have mined some of that fine, vibrant de Paris brothers energy for the outing on 1919 Rag. I think we can forgive co-leader Barnhart for his rather hysterical turn on the final number, where he seems more in danger of emulating Jerry Lee than Meade Lux Lewis. Huxley shows him the way in his solo.

Still, as I noted, a good blowing session from an experienced band. Nothing outstanding but for me Fryer’s lusty ’bone is the highlight.

Jonathan Woolf

A good blowing session from an experienced band ... see Full Review


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