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Featuring Archie Semple; The Archie Semple Six – with special guests Nat Gonella and Beryl Bryden

LAKE LACD240 [62:42]



Get Happy
I Want Every Bit Of It #1
Swingin’ The Blues
Some Of These Days
Makin’ Whoopee
I Can’t Face The Music
Northwest Passage
Oh Baby
Foolin’ Myself
Untitled Fast Blues
Ma He’s Making Eyes At Me
Aint Misbehavin’
I’m Confessin’
All Of Me
I’m Forever Blowin’ Bubbles
Who’s Sorry Now
I Want Every Bit Of It #2
Archie Semple (clt) with Colin Smith (tpt), Roy Crimmins (tbn), Fred Hunt (pno), Bill Reid (bass), Johnny Richardson (dms) plus Nat Gonella (tpt and vcl), Beryl Bryden (voc) and Chris Staunton (bass)
Recorded London c.1956 and 1958


The essence of this Lake disc is a session for Doug Dobell’s 77 label made in 1958. It was originally called Jazz at the Cottage – a club – and also featured two guests, Nat Gonella and Beryl Bryden. By a piece of intensive investigative research (reading a book) I’ve found that Bryden was the teenage secretary of Gonella’s pre-War Georgians fan club. And reading the Gonella Discography leads me to note that two tracks originally recorded – the ubiquitous Gonella hit Georgia on My Mind and Georgia - are both omitted from this re-release. There are also some c.1956 tracks with a Semple-Crimmins front-line and with Johnny Staunton stepping in on bass.

The band utilised was that of Alex Welsh though minus the leader whose place was taken by Terry Lightfoot’s trumpeter, Colin Smith. Lake has done decidedly well by the Welsh band in its extensive series of reissues so this gives us a chance to hear Semple, Crimmins, Hunt, Reid and Richardson operating under a somewhat different flag. They build up a fine Chicagoan head of steam in Get Happy and also pursue some small band Basie influences to fine effect; versatile and well rehearsed. Fred Hunt, one of the band’s – indeed one of the country’s - most articulate and significant players reveals just those qualities in his comping and filigree fill-ins in Makin’ Whoopee. However bad the piano, and the Cottage’s wasn’t that good, Hunt rides the problems with total sang-froid. In this song, one that might have produced a tired run-through, we also find Roy Crimmins mining the Vic Dickenson songbook with witty awareness.

The album’s figurehead is actually Archie Semple whose devotion to Pee Wee Russell never precluded either freedom or an individual voice. His adulation is at its height in Oh Baby but he plays throughout with fine tone and imagination; his very early death was a great loss to the scene. The third of the front line is the young Colin Smith whose hustling lead on Untitled Fast Blues serves notice of the great talent that was to emerge – the Condon style trades at the end are very Welsh.

The guest stars add piquancy to the performances. Gonella was going through a rough time in the later 1950s, his best days long behind him and the surprising Dutch Hit Parade times yet to arrive. He takes an unpromising vehicle such as Ma He’s Making Eyes At Me and grafts his bugle-toned trumpet lead to it with great resilience. His Louis-derived scat vocals enliven things as well – as does the rather unusual straight ahead blues he plays on Blues though Crimmins is by a long shot his master here. Beryl Bryden essays her Bessie Smith inspired double entendres in accustomed fashion; she always sounded rather too spick and span to be a down home momma but she always gave the best of value.

A couple of the tracks have suffered some brief but ineradicable damage; it’s over very quickly. As if in compensation there’s a second take of Bryden’s I Want Every Bit Of It. Another excellent Lake release restores the core of the Welsh band to the catalogue and allows us in particular to hear Gonella – one of the earliest and best of the British jazz proselytisers.

Jonathan Woolf


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