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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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Graeme Bell’s Australian Jazz Band

The Historical Prague and Paris Jazz Concerts 1947 and 1948

LAKE LACD 262 [43:09 + 52:18]

 

 



 
Czechoslovakia Journey
Dallas Blues
Panama Rag
Riverside Blues
Just Gone
When The Saints Go Marching In
Fidgety Feet
Walking Wenceslaus Square
Ballin’ The Jack
Organ Grinder
Get It Fixed
I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate
Blue Tongue Blues
Willie The Weeper
Birmingham Bertha
Baby Won’t You Please Come Home
Shabby Gal Rag
Mandy Make Up Your Mind
Tiger Rag
Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jelly Roll
Canal St. Blues
Ostrich Walk
I’ve Got What It Takes
Wolverine Blues
Deep Pacific
At The Darktown Strutters Ball
Come Back Sweet Papa
Smokey Mokes
It’s Right Here For You
See See Rider
The Jazz Parade
Square Dance
Graeme Bell’s Australian Jazz Band
Graeme Bell (piano), Roger Bell (cornet, vocals), Ade Monsbourgh (valve trombone, clarinet, vocals). Don Roberts (clarinet), Jack Varney (banjo, guitar), Lou Silbereisen (bass) Russ Murphy (drums and washboard)
rec. Prague and Paris 1947-48

 

When Graeme Bell and his Australian Jazz Band breezed into town things were never quite the same again. Their "music for dancing" policy contrasted sharply with the more po-faced recital rituals of post war British rhythm clubs, whose audiences tended to sit augustly wrapped in classical mobility. For Bell and his confreres the music should be infectious, should make one want to shake a leg. And their influence on British bands was equally potent. Humphrey Lyttelton’s admiration for the band – and especially for Lazy Ade Monsbourgh - is well known, as are the joint recordings Humph made with the band.

This two-for-the-price-of-one set from Lake contains the famous Supraphon recordings made in Prague in 1947; the Paris sessions are just as good and were made the following year. There’s a pioneering spirit to these sides, derived though they are from the white west coast revivalist discs of Lu Watters, that still excites. Roger Bell plays a vital blues solo on Dallas Blues and one can almost see the sly grin on banjoist Jack Varney’s face as he lashes into his flourishes on Panama Rag. Lou Silbereisen’s tuba playing on Just Gone pays pretty much explicit homage to the Watters sound. Clarinettist Don Roberts, who has tended to be slightly undervalued, plays with real fluency throughout, not least on I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate whilst Roger Bell plays a good, firm lead throughout, occasionally using mutes with discretion and skill. Once or twice he lays on a wide Mutt Carey-ish vibrato, as on Deep Pacific. Monsbourgh, multi-instrumentalist, plays a gruff, anchoring trombone and his forays on clarinet are fragile and lyrical – except when he evinces awareness of Chicago gas pipe players from the 20s, as he surely does in the small group Blue Tongue Blues, with its recreation of cross talk. I have to say Willie The Weeeper, in their hands, sounds bigger than a four piece!

The discs show a good variety of tunes, equally good tempo decisions and arrangements, whilst simple, are not predictable and retain sufficient variety. Tiger Rag, for instance (it’s left off the jewel box list but noted in the booklet running order) is rough hewn but not clichéd. The Jazz Parade even has a modish fade ending.

Add this one to Lake’s previous Bell release Big Walkabout in London 1948-51 to see why this band was so much admired by fellow musicians and listeners (and dancers) alike. And despite the notes’ proviso that these sides were transferred from 78s the sound is pretty good.

Jonathan Woolf


 

 

 

 



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