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



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DICK SUDHALTER

Legacy 1967-2001

Challenge CR 73298

 

 


1. In A Jam
2. Lord, I Give You My Children
3. Peg o' My Heart
4. Red Hot Flo (From Kokomo)
5. Dinah
6. Pardon Me, Pretty Baby
7. Reaching for Someone
8. Mister Tram
9. Because My Baby Don't Mean Maybe Now
10. Crying All Day
11. Three Blind Mice
12. Mississippi Mud
13. Peaceful Valley
14. Buddy's Habits
15. Snowball
16. Make Believe
17. I'd Climb the Highest Mountain
18. Someday Soon
19. Why Couldn't it Be Poor Little Me?
20. Rose of Washington Square
21. How Could We Be Wrong?

Dick Sudhalter - Cornet, trumpet, flugelhorn, with the Anglo-American Alliance, Eva Taylor & her Anglo-American Boyfriends, Bill Rank and his Anglo-American Friends, the New Paul Whiteman Orchestra, the Sioux City Seven, Lou Lanza (vocals), Keith Ingham (piano), Barbara Lea (vocals), and His London Friends.

 

Dick Sudhalter was a man of many parts. His main day-job was as a journalist, working as European correspondent for United Press International for many years and as jazz critic for the New York Post for a decade but additionally writing numerous articles and sleeve-notes. He was also an accomplished musician, starting on the piano but inspired by hearing Bix Beiderbecke to take up the cornet, later adding the flugelhorn. In addition, he wrote or co-wrote several books, including acclaimed biographies of Bix Beiderbecke and Hoagy Carmichael. The last of his books - Lost Chords - made him a controversial figure, as his championing of the contribution that white musicians made to jazz led some critics to accuse him unjustly of racism.

The main impetus of Sudhalter's life seems to have been his devotion to the styles of jazz played by the likes of Bix Beiderbecke and Paul Whiteman. When he got hold of the Whiteman band's arrangements, he initiated the New Paul Whiteman Orchestra, which tried to reproduce that music faithfully. He was also involved with bands called the Anglo-American Alliance, the Classic Jazz Quartet and the New York Repertory Company.

This album collects together some of his recordings dating from 1967 to 2001 (he died in 2008). Many of the tracks have never been issued before. I haven't listed all the personnels, as they are so complex - and, in some cases, misleading. For example, did Sudhalter really play the trumpet (as listed) and not the cornet on most of these dates? And drummer Jock Cummings (well remembered from his days with the Squadronaires) turns up as Jack Cummings in one list.

Many of the items come from Dick's years in England, where he founded the New Paul Whiteman Orchestra and played with such British luminaries as John R. T. Davies, Harry Gold, Keith Nichols, Pat Dodd, and my old friends trumpeter Duncan Campbell and saxist Al Baum. Davies plays memorable solos on such tunes as Peg o' My Heart and his punctuations behind the vocals in Rose of Washington Square are just what's needed. Gold's bass sax underpins several tracks, and Al Baum sounds absolutely authentic in the theme statement of Mister Tram with the Sioux City Seven (a group formed to represent the small groups from within the Whiteman orchestra). Davies, Nichols and Campbell form the New Rhythm Boys to do the vocals in the immortal Mississippi Mud.

I am not always a fan of musicians claiming to reproduce the sounds of old-time bands, but the sincerity of Sudhalter and his associates is evident on the Paul Whiteman sides. Their faithfulness to the Whiteman style is clear even in the use of violins and especially in their measured approach to the arrangements. Sudhalter himself supplies a clear lead for many ensembles, playing with a tone that is reminscent of Bunny Berigan as well as Bix.

Some artists were taken out of retirement for some of these recordings. Trombonist Bill Rank was a stalwart with Beiderbecke and Whiteman in many classic recordings. His solo on Dinah shows that he had lost none of his singing tone. And vocalist Eva Taylor had not sung for 30 years when she recorded with a small Sudhalter group in 1967.

Singer Chris Ellis's compilation of this album was obviously a labour of love and it is a good thing to remember Dick Sudhalter's contribution to reminding us of the riches which reside in old recordings that so many jazz fans seem in danger of overlooking or underestimating.

Tony Augarde



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