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



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NAT GONELLA

Georgia on my Mind

His 25 finest 1931-1941

Retrospective RTR 4146

 

 



1. Tiger Rag
2. Oh, Monah! (Roy Fox & His Orchestra)
3. That's My Home
4. Moon Country
5. Troublesome Trumpet
6. Nagasaki
7. Black Coffee
8. Chicago
9. Capri Caprice (Isle Of Capri)
10. I Want To Be Happy
11. Sweet Music Man
12. The Music Goes 'Round And Around
13. Singin' The Blues
14. Ride, Red, Ride
15. Bugle Call Rag
16. Crazy Valves
17. Trumpetuous
18. He Ain't Got Rhythm
19. All God's Chillun Got Rhythm
20. I Can't Dance, I Got Ants In My Pants
21. Jubilee
22. Music, Maestro, Please!
23. You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby (John Kirby & His Orchestra)
24. Jeepers Creepers (John Kirby & His Orchestra)
25. Georgia On My Mind

 

Gonella was one of the great pioneers of Jazz in Britain, paving the way for successive waves of Armstrong-inspired trumpeters where contemporaries of his, such as the exquisite Norman Payne, showed more of an affiliation with Bix Beiderbecke. Gonella was much reissued on LP and continues to fare equally well on CD, probably even better in fact.

Compilations range across the years, some taking in his sideman forays in two of the greatest of dance bands, those of Roy Fox and Lew Stone. In this Retrospective collection there is one side by the Fox band, the famous Oh, Monah! where the cockney trumpeter tells us that he ‘fought ‘e ‘eard a chick’n sneeze’ By the way, apropos of nothing, I understand that Jay Wibur’s version of this song was a favourite of Elgar’s.

Elsewhere we find that frantic, bugle-like tone employed to fine effect on Tiger Rag with thrusting solos all round and Gonella’s erstwhile bandleader Bob Dryden on the drums. Troublesome Trumpet, with Gonella’s lisping vocal, still sounds good, not least with his insistent on the beat work to the fore. Amidst these exemplary and well known examples of Gonella’s playing we do find some more out of the way things. Nagasaki and Black Coffee are not all that often anthologised and in fact a number of the 1935 sides have generally escaped the restorer’s art. The Isle of Capri is played straight then jazzed, which justifies its new title, Capri Caprice complete with O sole Mio quotation. Given the foregoing comments regarding Duncan Whyte it’s interesting to hear Singin’ the Blues, which Bix played so beautifully, and is slightly unusual territory for Gonella. Ride, Red, Ride is more in his line, a Red Allen rabble-rouser written by Lucky Millinder.  There are some Gonella originals, really vehicles for instrumental virtuosity – Crazy Valves and Trumpetuous. I Can't Dance, I Got Ants In My Pants is a swinger and earned Gonella a radio ban. Then there are two of the sides he made in New York with a stellar contingent including Benny Carter (who’d known him in London) and Buster Bailey and Billy Kyle. He sings and plays – some nervous fluffs on You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby but he takes a splendid solo on Jeepers Creepers. We end, as we must, with one of the versions of his signature song Georgia On My Mind which is the only wartime track here, recorded in Brighton in 1941 with his New Georgians.

The personnel details seem good to me but the bassist on the Fox track was Don Stuteley not Studeley and he played the ocarina as well – there was a lot of doubling and exotic trebling in that band.

This offers a good balance of material for the Gonella fan in smart sounding transfers

Jonathan Woolf
 
see also review by Tony Augarde

 

 

 



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