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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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JOHNNY KEATING

British Jazz/ Swinging Scots

Vocalion CDNJT 5304

 

 


 

1. Strictly for Kyx
2. Fair Diana
3. Quads Talk
4. Impromptu
5. Ultraviolet
6. Gibraltar Rocks
7. Good Life
8. Snow Face
9. Last Resort
10. Lazy
11. Eddie Blair’s Picnic
12. Piccadilly Jumps
13. Hampden Roars
14. Down South Blues
15. Thistle Swing
16. Headin' North
17. Tam o' Shanter
18. Double Scotch
19. Kiltie
20. Loch Ness Monster
21. Clachnacudan Local

 

This album contains recordings made in 1956 and 1957 respectively and issued on LPs entitled British Jazz and Swinging Scots. They were the first albums that Johnny Keating recorded as a bandleader. Keating is probably best known for his work with the Ted Heath orchestra - first as trombonist and then as composer/arranger. The groups he assembled for these two LPs included many of Ted Heath's sidemen, such as Bobby Pratt, Don Lusher, Johnny Hawksworth and Ronnie Verrell.

The LP British Jazz used a big band playing compositions by Keating, Bill Le Sage and others, while Swinging Scots (tracks 13-21) was recorded by a big band and various smaller groups, featuring seven tunes by Keating and two by trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar. Johnny Keating wrote all the arrangements, and the big-band tracks are in the familiar style which uses the sections (saxes, trumpets, trombones) playing in blocks of harmony, instead of breaking up the sections as bandleaders like Duke Ellington and Gil Evans had shown was possible.

Despite some imaginative arranging touches and the impressive cohesion of the ensembles, this means that the most interesting parts of many tracks are the solos from the starry line-up of Britain's finest jazz musicians. Tenorist Don Rendell is heard to advantage on the first two tracks. Quads Talk features the four trombones of Don Lusher, George Chisholm, Maurice Pratt and Keith Christie. Bill Le Sage solos on vibes in Johnny Hawksworth's Impromptu and on piano in his own compositions Good Life and Snow Face. Eddie Blair contributes a bluesy trumpet solo to his eponymous Eddie Blair's Picnic. Most of the solos are short, because this was still an era when producers habitually thought in terms of the three-minute single, and the tracks on British Jazz all hover around that length.

The sounds on Swinging Scots are more varied because of the four different sizes of group, and the tracks are longer, giving the players more room to stretch out. This LP was a tribute to Scottish musicians by Johnny Keating (born in Edinburgh in 1927) and the all-Scottish line-ups include such notables as Tommy McQuater, Duncan Campbell and George Chisholm. Only tracks 13, 14 and 21 are by a 19-piece big band. The smaller group sessions contain notable solos from baritone saxist Ronnie Ross and tenorists Tommy Whittle and Duncan Lamont.

At its recommended price of £7.99, this CD is a very worthwhile reissue, especially for its portrayal of British jazz in the mid-fifties. And the result of this needle match is: Britain 1, Scotland 2.

Tony Augarde


 

 

 

 



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