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The Al Fairweather Collection: 1953-57

LAKE LACD 260 [54:29 + 68:17]



Forty And Tight
Four’s Company
Swinging The Blues
Dreamed I Had The Blues
Skinnie Minnie
St. James Infirmary Blues
New Orleans Hop Scop Blues (take 2)
Pauline’s Blues
Yama Yama Blues
At Sundown
Royal Garden Blues
Rose Room
Winin’ Boy
Ostrich Walk
Nobody’s Sweetheart
New Orleans Hop Scop Blues (take 1)
Somebody Loves Me
Miss Otis Regrets
The Lady In Red
Everybody Loves My Baby
How Long Blues
Shimme Sha Wabble
Shortnin’ Bread
Willie The Weeper
Blue Post Haste
Show Me The Way To Go Home
In The Evening
Oh, Little Girl
Backwater Blues
Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
All These Days Are The Beginning Of Sorrow
They Call Me A Blind Man
Oh, What Kind Of Woman
I Want A True Lover
You Been Going Too Long
The House Of The Rising Sun
Chicago Hop
Al Fairweather (trumpet) with Albert Nicholas, Brother John Sellers, Sandy Brown’s Jazz Band, John Picard’s Angels, Stan Greig’s Jazz Band, Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band.
rec. 1953-57

Lake’s two-for-the-price-of-one releases make a tempting proposition not least when they corral such enticing material as here. This company has made a study of releases Fairweather material as a look at their catalogue swiftly shows – things such as Dr McJazz and The Incredible McJazz are albums that should never go out of print – and there are plenty of other examples of the trumpeter’s work on the label.

These latest CDs have the great merit of real archaeological retrieval. Many of these sides will be unfamiliar to all but the most ardent Fairweather collector. Though the bands themselves may look familiar it’s certainly worth pointing out that the Stan Grieg’s Jazz band recordings were made in Copenhagen, as were the sides where Fairweather joins clarinettist Albert Nicholas. The John Picard Angels tracks - with Wally Fawkes as part of the front line - were recorded in 1955 in The Fishmonger’s Arms, Wood Green in London; the tracks where Fairweather, Fawkes et al accompany Brother John Sellers - Tony Kinsey incidentally was the drummer – are also extremely rare. The upshot is rarity and excellence of presentation; the result is two well-filled discs full of the greatest interest.

The tunes on the first disc run the gamut from South Side Chicago to blues and boogie, Basie influence, Ory, and all stylistic ports in between. The splendid meeting with Lyttelton worked well – Humph always spoke with admiration of Fairweather’s playing – and the Basie rhythm section sound on Swinging the Blues is a virtuosic tribute. Stan Grieg was a great boogie and blues player and unveils his penant throughout. For some tracks Henrik Johansen replaces Fairweather’s accustomed partner Sandy Brown, a player who was clearly a tonal role model for Johansen.

On the Picard tracks the piano of Alan Thomas is badly under-recorded but the Fairweather-Fawkes-Picard front line functions with enviable fluency. There are twelve tracks featuring Brother John Sellers backed either by the band, rather skeletally, or by Grieg who is a really vital support, absorbing Sellers’s style with great perception. I’m a bit surprised that sleeve note writer Ralph M Laing, usually so on the ball, doesn’t know much about Sellers and nothing after 1957. But Sellers is a pretty well known figure and worked alongside Mahalia Jackson, was filmed, and had a strong career well into the 1970s. He sounds influenced by Jackson and also by Leadbelly.

The remastering has been expertly carried out and altogether this is a very varied and broad-ranging and rare selection of discs by the tonally eloquent and exceptional Fairweather and friends.

Jonathan Woolf

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