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



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MARTIN WHEATLEY

All Day Breakfast

Signpost Records SGOT1

 

 

  1. Learning Boots
  2. When Lights Are Low
  3. Robins and Roses
  4. Darn that Dream
  5. Moonlight in Vermont
  6. Hano Hano Hawaii/Hilo March
  7. Just Like A Melody From Out Of The Sky
  8. Georgia Stomp
  9. He Wouldn't Stop Doing It
  10. Exactly Like You
  11. Don't Worry 'bout Me
  12. Hot Dogs
  13. Fascinating Rhythm
  14. Oh Värmeland, So Beautiful
  15. Real Emotion
  16. Skylark
  17. Sweet Sue
  18. In the Middle Of A Kiss
  19. Stella By Starlight
  20. Lullaby in Rhythm
  21. Dusk
Martin Wheatley (guitar, Hawaiian guitar, banjo, ukulele, Octophone)
with the Hula Bluebirds and Wheatley's Arcadians
rec. 2000-2006 [75:11]

To play the banjo is one thing but to play the guitar, Hawaiian guitar, ukulele and Octophone as well constitutes serious 'doubling'. The serious doubler is Martin Wheatley and he, with Spats Langham, is probably the best known and admired practitioner of Golden Age music in Britain today with the proviso that Wheatley's range of enthusiasms is (on record at least) much broader.

Just how broad is shown by this disc wherein he turns up solo or with the Hula Bluebirds and his own Arcadians. The former band plays, as one might expect, Hawaiian music, the latter taking a more pluralist approach. Both are expert instrumentalists and practitioners and this disc moves with galvanising rapidity through their stylistic pluralities. There's never a dull moment.

Learning Boots offers a wittily light hearted entrée whilst Benny Carter's masterpiece When Lights Are Low shows how well textured and varied are the colours that Wheatley, on guitar, and his cohort Dave Crofts on banjo, can evoke. I doubt the tune's ever been played quite like this before. Another confrere of Wheatley's is violinist Mike Piggott and he, along with Tom Langham and Roger Graham on bass, turn up for Robins and Roses where Wheatley sings warmly and Piggott complements him with a solo rich in burnished hue. Moonlight in Vermont is a solo guitar outing and sports fine Southern pickin' from Wheatley whilst adherents of his Hawaiian band will gleefully accept Hano Hano Hawaii/Hilo March not least the sprightly march section.

Georgia Stomp may sound familiar but this is not the well-known tune of the same name; instead it's a sprightly up-tempo number played solo on guitar. He Wouldn't Stop Doing It is one of those insinuating 1920s double entendre numbers complete with amusing vocals (Wheatley) and a swinging violin solo. Hot Dogs sounds similarly salacious but it's actually a vocal-free solo along Will Shade lines. Believe or not Fascinating Rhythm works very nicely on Hawaiian guitar and Oh Värmeland, So Beautiful, another seemingly unlikely vehicle, generates considerable expression in this solo recital performance. And whilst Armstrong Gibbs's Dusk - another wide ranging choice - is a total delight as performed by the Ideal String Band it's perhaps Real Emotion that shows how diverse influences can produce such joyous results. In its melding of styles, its absorption of popular music and its replenishing in the shape of a string trio of Hawaiian guitar, rhythm guitar and ukulele, it says something about the vitality and variety of music making in general and of Wheatley and his colleagues in particular. It reminds me especially of the work Wheatley does with the inspirational James Evans.

If this string paella excites then seek out this disc. I loved its variety and vitality.


Jonathan Woolf



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