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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Just Imagine

Lake LACD 275




  1. California Here I Come
  2. Mean To Me
  3. Yes Sir, That's My Baby
  4. You Went Away Once Too Often
  5. Chinese Whispers
  6. The River And Me
  7. When The Saints
  8. Walking My Baby Back Home
  9. The Girlfriend
  10. Walking With Susie
  11. Symphonic Raps
  12. You'll Never Know
  13. Louisiana Bo-Bo
  14. My Extraordinary Gal
  15. Just Imagine
  16. The Way You Look Tonight
  17. Forgetting You
  18. Cooking Breakfast For The One I Love
  19. Brotherly Love

rec. February 2009, Courtyard Theatre, Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, maidenhead

The Chasers are one of the best recreationist bands around. They plug into the circuitry of 1920s and 30s dance music and le jazz hot with conviction and having absorbed the lessons of their models they are freer than most to set loose with the repertoire.

The virtues of a good period ensemble sound are evident throughout; rhythms are spruce and voicings are adept. The choice of tune selection is good too, mixing up old favourites with less well known numbers, which is as it should be. Mean to Me is taken at a nice, loping tempo with Martin Litton providing a peppy accompaniment to percussionist/singer Debbie Arthurs’s very English vocal. On Yes Sir, That's My Baby there’s a strong Red Nichols’ Varsity Eight sound world and note Martin Wheatley’s banjo support as well. Maybe You Went Away Once Too Often was inspired by Charlie Kunz’s 1929 recording – but even if not, we can still admire the well voiced saxes, and the shadowing of alto by tenor.

Duke Ellington recorded The River And Me back in 1931. Here James Evans, clarinettist extraordinaire, dons the Chick Bullock mantle and obliges us with a vocal whilst Andy Hillier adds a trombone obbligato. The Jungle sound is well recreated. Adeptly they wander down to New Orleans for When The Saints where their style changes to embrace piping parade clarinets, before moving into a dance rhythm and a Louis Armstrong (trumpet) impersonation follows. There’s more Louis and Earl Hines too in Symphonic Raps, that marvellous Carroll Dickerson band recording of 1928. Arthurs and Wheatley are on their own on Walking My Baby Back Home where she perhaps evokes Annette Hanshaw and he Eddie Lang. But the sound that perhaps most precisely captures the band, despite their versatility, is that of the California Ramblers – rhythmic trumpet, sinuous saxes and they are clearly not averse to some Hal Kemp influence either, as Walking with Susie shows. The Way You Look Tonight is a lightly swinging sax fest but all of the titles have virtues – of arrangement and orchestration, of solo and corporate strengths.

As I said the Chasers are experts in the field – worthy ambassadors for the music.

Jonathan Woolf

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