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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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RALPH SUTTON

In Copenhagen

Storyville 101 8525

 

 

1. Thou Swell
2. You're Driving Me Crazy
3. You Can Depend on Me
4. At Sundown
5. Undecided
6. In the Dark
7. Jeepers Creepers
8. Gone with the Wind
9. I Want to Be Happy
10. If I Could Be With You
11. St. Louis Blues
12. Worrying the Life out of Me
13. Old Fashioned Love
14. Everybody Loves My Baby
15. Blue Room
16. Shine
17. Running Wild
18. Exactly Like You

Ralph Sutton - Piano
Lars Blach - Guitar (tracks 1-5, 7-11)
Hugo Rasmussen - Bass (tracks 1-5, 7-11, 13-18)
Svend-Erik Nørregård - Drums (tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11, 14-18)
Wild Bill Davison - Cornet (tracks 14-18)
Jesper Thilo - Tenor sax, clarinet, soprano sax (tracks 14-18)
Ole "Fessor" Lindgreen - Trombone (tracks 14-16)

 

I first heard Ralph Sutton playing on a 10-inch LP of tunes by Fats Waller, so it is difficult for me not to think of Sutton as a pianist in the great stride tradition that started with such musicians as James P. Johnson and flowered wonderfully with Fats Waller. And Ralph Sutton was an experienced stride pianist, although he was more than that - as this CD shows.

Ralph's two solo spots display how he learnt from a tradition which uses the piano as a whole orchestra, comprising melody, harmony and rhythm in one satisfying package. Bix Beiderbecke's In the Dark is performed as a radiantly meditative piece, with not a sign of stride in view. And Sutton's own composition, Worrying the Life out of Me, is similarly thoughtful.

Ralph was joined by bassist Hugo Rasmussen for Old Fashioned Love, another pensive number, with the double bass allowing Sutton to concentrate decoratively on the top half of the piano keyboard. The duo becomes a trio for tracks 2, 4 and 10, with the addition of guitarist Lars Blach. Ralph hints at the melody of You're Driving Me Crazy rather than stating it outright but his solo moves into muscular stride. At Sundown is one of many highspots on the album, and Lars Blach delivers some neat guitar solos. Rasmussen and Blach are both Danish, as is drummer Svend-Erik Nørregård, who fills out the remaining tracks. He takes some nice fours with brushes in Undecided and he certainly adds to the punch of Thou Swell (where you can hear Ralph Sutton borrowing some of Fats Waller's favourite phrases).

The last five tracks add two or three extra members to the quartet and they feature first-class reedman Jesper Thilo, cornettist Wild Bill Davison and (in the first three of the five) trombonist Ole "Fessor" Lindgreen. These numbers really move along, driven by Ralph Sutton who is now in full stride mode. The line-up emphases the Dixieland mood but that's no bad thing, as these tracks are veritably stimulating. Davison's solos are particularly notable, with that slight growl which was one of Wild Bill's trademarks.

This album is made up from two sessions both recorded in 1977 for the Storyville label. The CD contains all 13 master takes from the album called The Ralph Sutton Quartet and five tracks from Together Again, on which Sutton was reunited with Wild Bill Davison, another member of Eddie Condon's ratpack. The CD proves Ralph Sutton's versatility in a variety of contexts - in all of which he shines.

Tony Augarde



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