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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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WILL BRADLEY
AND HIS JAZZ OCTET

Ridin' a Riff

Sounds of Yester Year DSOY 819
(distributed by The Woods)

 

 


1. Ridin' a Riff
2. Lonely Night
3. Nimble Feet
4. When Gabriel Blows His Horn
5. Midnight Special
6. Silver Dollar Polka
7. Winter Time
8. Lady from Castile
9. Go Way, Love, Go Way
10. Hysterical Boogie
11. Dixie Party
12. Dust Bowl
13. Footprints
14. Tasty Dish
15. Who Cut the Gorgonzola?
16. On a Boogie Beam
17. A Little Time to Dream
18. Jungle Magic
19. A La Carte
20. Roly Poly Polka
21. Conga Roo
22. Bayou Ballad
23. Slow Freight
24. On the Front Burner
25. Eight O'Clock Date
26. On the South Side

Will Bradley - Trombone
Billy Butterfield - Trumpet
Paul Ricci - Clarinet, alto sax
Sal Amato - Tenor sax
Stan Freeman - Piano
Tony Mottola - Guitar
Chubby Jackson - Bass
Terry Snyder - Drums

 

Will Bradley was a bandleader who may be neglected today, but at one time he was a highly considered instrumentalist. An even better-known trombonist, Glenn Miller, said of him: "Will Bradley can do more things better than any trombone player I ever heard". Will played with the likes of Red Nichols, Victor Young and Ray Noble. Bradley's heyday was in the late thirties and early fortiues, when the big band he formed with drummer Ray McKinley had some notable hits in boogie-woogie style, including Hit Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar and Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat.

The recordings on this CD were made in the late 1950s by an octet which Bradley assembled with a mouth-watering line-up. I expected great things from a band that included trumpeter Billy Butterfield, pianist Stan Freeman, bassist Chubby Jackson and drummer Terry Snyder. My expectations were somewhat lessened when I actually heard the record. The opening track is a swinging piece which gives many of the musicians (notably Russ Freeman) opportunities for jazz solos. But the album also contains some easy-listening dance music, such as Lonely Night, Winter Time and Footprints which are very much in the Tommy Dorsey vein of sweet trombone rhapsodies, and Nimble Feet which is like a jolly piece of light novelty music.

When Gabriel Blows His Horn gives rein to the cogent trumpet of Billy Butterfield, but Silver Dollar Polka is an oompah number which includes an unexpected xylophonist, and Lady from Castile is a straightforward tango with uncredited flute, vibes and what sounds like an oboe. The jokey Who Cut the Gorgonzola? even reminds me of Spike Jones and his City Slickers, complete with vaudeville sound effects.

Hysterical Boogie and On a Boogie Beam return Bradley to the style which made him famous. Jazzier tracks include Dixie Party (with a hot solo from Butterfield) and the bluesy Slow Freight.

So the jazz content on this album is variable but the arrangements are resourceful and the musicians are all top-flight, making for some pleasurable listening.

Tony Augarde



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