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



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Vintage Terry Lightfoot - Volume 1: 1956-57

Terry Lightfoot’s Jazzmen
rec. 1956-57

LAKE LACD 264 [74:31]

 

 


Wabash Blues
Lady Be Good
Tishomingo Blues
One Sweet Letter From You
When You’re Smiling
Texas Moaner Blues
Minor Chant
My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It
Good Time Swing
Little Brown Jug
Yellow Dog Blues
You Always Hurt The One You Love
Mood Indigo
Avalon
After You’ve Gone
St. James Infirmary Blues
We’ll Understand It Better Bye And Bye
Winter Wonderland
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

This takes us right back to the archaeological sub-stratum of Terry Lightfoot’s Jazzmen. Their first recordings were made in 1956 and are here; the first one was actually Wabash Blues and for once Lake’s éminence grise Paul Adams sells his band a bit short. Unlike Adams I think Lightfoot’s solo here really is an indicator of his stature - one that is cemented by his George Lewis-plus-rhythm section approach to Lady Be Good which was recorded on the same day. I’ve always liked the band performance of Tishomingo Blues – they get a big, fat ensemble sound and a rock steady beat that still works its little spell.

When You’re Smiling was recorded later in the year and again they build up a head of steam. Colin Smith artfully pursues some strong lower register work on Texas Moaner Blues. As for Lightfoot himself the dual influences were, as on Wabash Blues the inescapable figure of George Lewis, and Sidney Bechet. The latter’s influence is pervasive in what is in effect a bravura tribute on Minor Chant. When Sonny Morris joined the band his was a more archaic sounding lead – more a Mutt Carey sound – than the sleeker Armstrong saturated Colin Smith.  On Good Time Swing Morris slips in an Isle of Capri quotation. Little Brown Jug was arranged by Lightfoot with an ear open, it would seem, to Humphrey Lyttelton’s earlier blending of Jazz and Caribbean elements.

In fact the band’s corporate sound changed slightly at this point – and You Always Hurt The One You Love sounds closer to the Chris Barber corporate sonority than to the earlier rather rougher sound of the Lightfoot band in the previous year. Completing the front line was John Bennett who takes a strong trombone solo on Avalon.  Rather unusually we hear the verse in full on St. James Infirmary Blues where a Red Allen-Kid Ory ethos is evoked. There is a spiritual, neatly played, and two novelty Christmas tunes with Ginger Baker at the drums which are very much of their time and place.

The overall impression however is of a thoroughly well drilled band with mainly corporate strengths. Smith’s was a fiery articulate and technically splendid lead, and Lightfoot wove decoratively around that lead with New Orleanian fluidity. 

Jonathan Woolf

 

 

 

 



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