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Sporting House Piano

LAKE LACD 247 [79:47]




Ray Foxley
Froggie Moore Rag
Aunt Hagar’s Blues
Heliotrope Bouquet
If I Could Be With You
Liberia Rag
Johnny Parker

Canine Stomp
Number Sixty-Nine
The Fox’s Tail
Up There
Hold That Thing
Mr Freddie Blues
Bob Kelly

Whisky Blues
Something Else
Good Halfpenny Blues
Pat Hawes

Rave With Dave
Snowy Morning Blues
The Sheik Of Araby
My Daddy Rocks Me
Tate’s Blues
Jive At Five
Ron Weatherburn

The Entertainer
Original Rags
Maple Leaf Rag
Finger Buster
rec. 1955-62; Liberia Rag recorded 1994


A quintet of British ivory-ticklers takes the stage in Lake’s latest release documenting some heady days on disc. First on stage is Ray Foxley in 1955. A couple of years later he was to join Ken Colyer but here he lays out some stylistic wares. We hear his early immersion in Morton in Froggie Moore Rag but for a Morton and Rag expert Foxley was not deaf to the blandishments of other styles. I hear some Teddy Wilson in If I Could Be With You. Liberia Rag is a much later cut, dating from 1994 – and the intervening forty years have done little to dampen either his ardour or his style.

The ever–excellent Johnny Parker will always be remembered as one of the engine room boys in Lyttelton’s band. The tracks here, set down when he was still a member of the band, came out under Parker’s own name (his Washboard Band and Barrelhouse Four). Five of the six songs are Parker originals; he mines gospel in Up There – a Humph interest as well – and allows plenty of space for his guitarists, Denny Wright and especially Cedric West, a fine player. Glaswegian Bob Kelly was a Boogie specialist and plays his own tunes. Whisky Blues has some contrived tempo variations but the Yancey style is well absorbed. Spoutmouth sounds like a speeded up Pallet on the Floor and Good Halfpenny Blues is his humorous riposte to the Lyttelton hit Bad Penny Blues.

Pat Hawes is still very much with us – a fine player and critic as well. He was playing with Dave Carey’s band at the time of these sessions but was already a cosmopolitan swinger, having far outgrown his more Back to the Delta past. He clearly took a lead from Basie and maybe Nat Pierce as well, though he never, in Jelly Roll’s words, denied his name – there’s a tribute to James P Johnson in Snowy Morning Blues. He also shows familiarity with Meade Lux Lewis’s celesta recordings – Hawes switches from celesta to piano in Tate’s Blues and it sounds good to me but then I have a terrible weakness for those Lewis sides.

Ron Weatherburn was a deceptive player. The quartet of rags here, played on as beat-up a beast as could be found (for "authentic" reasons no doubt) are probably the way he’s best remembered. As a member of Kenny Ball’s band he would take rag solos and this was reflected on Ball’s LPs as well. Towards the end of his life though Weatherburn left behind some very touching examples of his playing.

To pack as much music onto this disc the gaps between tracks have been reduced to a minimum. That’s all right by me. I wish the original recording details had been more explicit – which albums, which record companies and that sort of thing – but that’s a very minor point.

Jonathan Woolf


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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