1. New Orleans Parade
2. Just A Closer Walk With Thee/The Saints
3. The Sheik Of Araby
4. Tipi Tipi Tin
6. Sing On
7. Going Home
8. Weary Blues
10. All On A Mardi Gras Day
Chris Barber (trombone and vocal); Ken Colyer (trumpet and vocal); Ian Wheeler (clarinet, alto sax); John Crocker (clarinet, tenor sax); Johnny McCallum (banjo); Roger Hill (guitar); Vic Pitt (bass); Norman Emberson (drums); Parade Band - as above except add Pat Halcox (trumpet); McCallum plays snare drum, Emberson plays bass drum, Pitt plays sousaphone. Omit Hill
rec. 16 December 1984, St Ivo Centre, St Ives, Cambridgeshire
Reunions of the Colyer band took place during the 1980s though they tended to involve the original line up. Previously no known in-concert recordings were known of Colyer joining the then current Barber band line-up - until now, that is. The concert was taped in 1984, a few years after I first saw the Guvn'r (at the 100 Club; I was 17 and he was a hero). The tape comes via Barber himself.
Increasing illness took its toll on Colyer and in his later years tempi crawled and songs could drag. Teaming up with Barber's spruce and lithely swinging outfit might have seemed something of a risky manoeuvre but I'm in agreement with Lake's Paul Adams when he says that the date worked well, that Colyer played well - thoughtfully, lightly, but with imagination - and that the evening was a success.
The core of the date was the Jazz Band but there was a Parade Band
element too, evoking New Orleans funeral and parade. New Orleans
Parade is a brief entree, then Just A Closer Walk With Thee
is taken at a genuine dirge tempo before The Saints sets the
soul free; unhackneyed and fresh minted too, the way they perform
it. Vic Pitt plays a fruity sousaphone solo here. Morton's oft-quoted
`Spanish Tinge' is mined in Tipi Tipi Tin where Colyer shows
his command of the mute, and indeed there are fine solos all round.
Breeze was a favourite of Colyer's and he sings the lyrics
to a clarinet obbligato played by the ever excellent Ian Wheeler.
John Crocker plays a good tenor solo and Colyer takes a rather King
Oliver-ish `talking' muted solo. Another well worn part of the trumpeter's
repertoire was the NO standard Sing On. Here he drops out of
the front line à la Bunk Johnson to allow clarinet/trombone
counterpoint, the two soliloquizing well over the springy rhythm;
the ethos of the playing reminds me of the bands that Cap'n John Handy
played in. Goin' Home was perhaps the number most associated
with Colyer and it gets another fine reading here.
These are some of the markers of this enjoyable date. I didn't realise
that Colyer had never recorded Weary Blues for instance - but
we get it here on this live gig - and Panama, a song I usually
hate, gets a really fine workout. Barber inserts some naughty Neapolitan
quotes into his calming `bone solo - and the `hush hush' dynamics
work well before tension incrementally builds up to a joyous close.
The fine loping Big Easy rhythm of the bonus track, All On A Mardi
Gras Day, owes quite a lot to its composer, Dr John (Mack Rebennack).
So all in all this reunion works very well. It's Colyer with the Barber band as a snug guest, and the ad-hoc recording quality is perfectly serviceable - no complaints there.