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



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KID ORY'S CREOLE
JAZZ BAND

`Live' at the Club Hangover,
San Francisco, October 1954

Acrobat Music ADDCD3070

 

 

CD1
2nd October 1954
1. Without You for an Inspiration (Theme)
2. I Found a New Baby
3. Aunt Hagar's Blues
4. Washington and Lee Swing
5. Lady Be Good (Intermission piano solo by Jesse Tiny Crump)
6. Sweet Georgia Brown
16th October 1954
7. Without You for an Inspiration (Theme)
8. Wolverine Blues
9. Muskrat Ramble
10. Black and Blue
11. I'm Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter (Intermission piano solo by Jesse
Tiny Crump)
12. St. Louis Blues
 
CD2
23rd October 1954
1. Without You for an Inspiration (Theme)
2. Ballin' the Jack.
3. St. James Infirmary Blues
4. Indiana
5. Tiny's Boogie (Intermission piano solo by Jesse Tiny Crump)
6. I Found a New Baby
7. Shine
30th October 1954
8. Without You for an Inspiration (Theme)
9. Clarinet Marmalade
10. Darktown Strutters Ball
11. Buddy Bolden's Blues
12. St. Louis Blues (Intermission piano solo by Jesse Tiny Crump)
13. Dippermouth Blues
14. Milenburg Joys

Personnel
Edward `Kid' Ory - Trombone
Alvin Alcorn - Trumpet
George Probert - Clarinet and soprano sax
Don Ewell - Piano
Ed Garland - Bass
Minor `Ram' Hall - Drums
Jesse `Tiny' Crump - Intermission piano

 

The 1950's was a kind of golden age for traditional jazz in San Francisco. In that decade several clubs there featured such music, including the Tin Angel, the Club Hangover, the Italian Village, the Sail `N [sic], and towards the end of the period Kid Ory's own club, On the Levee.

During that time Ory's band appeared at Club Hangover frequently, and in one such residency in 1954, broadcast on CBS several times, recordings of four of which are on this CD. (Note: the last two sessions on the CD were previously released on LP on the Dawn Club label, the date of the first being given there incorrectly as Oct. 10th.) This is the first time these broadcasts have appeared on CD, but they did not constitute Ory's radio debut. The band made a broadcast in 1923, of which Ory later claimed, "I guess we were the first New Orleans style band to make a radio broadcast." (Another first was the Ory band's being the first African-American jazz band from New Orleans to make jazz recordings on the West Coast.)

This CD exemplifies Ory's "tailgate" style, which was quite definitive with its smears and ascending and descending glissandi, muted growls, and fatness of tone. Like some other leaders, Ory could mould his side men into a unit with his stamp, and the band's "sound" is a clearly recognizable one, regardless of its personnel.

Earlier versions of the band gave much more scope to the ensemble playing that is so characteristic of the New Orleans style subscribed to then by the leader, Kid Ory, a New Orleans native. These earlier Ory bands were comprised largely of fellow New Orleanians, and they, too, were accustomed to collective improvisation. The personnel in this later band, however, lean more to the soloing that had been introduced some time before by that other New Orleanian, Louis Armstrong.

Despite the emphasis on solos, the band is never uninteresting, even though it most often embraces the "sandwich" pattern of one or two introductory ensembles/string of solos/one or two ensembles out, which can be so deadly; and Ory flirts rather dangerously with monotony in having the order of solos seldom deviate from that of reed, followed by trumpet, followed by trombone (if Ory takes a solo), and then by piano. However, he keeps a firm grip on the proceedings, not allowing more than one chorus for each soloist.

In addition, head arrangements have been worked out; so frequently there are interesting riffs inserted, such as the Charleston one behind Alcorn's solo in Sweet Georgia Brown or those during the breaks on the coda of Ballin' the Jack that are clearly orchestrated. Also adding to the interest are effects such as the closing cadenza by Alcorn on St. James Infirmary (ending on high note, which he loved to do), or the very nice descending harmonized run by the front line on the coda of Indiana. Another is the rather unusual front line stop time behind the bass solo on Wolverine Blues.

The variety in tempos further contributes to the group's appeal. While most tunes are taken at danceable tempos, there are two or three that are "barn burners," such as I Found a New Baby and Clarinet Marmalade. The tempo of the band's version of St. Louis Blues is faster than one usually finds with this tune, but it is not detrimental to the rendition. While speaking of this track, I would point out the unusual breaks on the latin strain and multiple out-choruses, carefully orchestrated as to dynamics, possibly in part because they were providing backing for the announcer's fairly lengthy sign off. Ory's manipulation of dynamics, here and elsewhere, also indicate his control of the group. Finally regarding tempo, I was surprised at how sedate that of Wolverine Blues was, giving an other-than-usual-but pleasing-"interpretation" of the tune.

Probably at the behest of Doc Dougherty, the club owner, the announcer gives much acknowledgement of intermission pianist Crump, who, rather than performing solo as indicated in the liner notes, is accompanied by Garland on bass and Hall on drums to form a swing style trio, providing somewhat of a contrast to the headlining band.

All in all, this double CD is typical Ory fare, and provides an entertaining couple of hours of good traditional jazz.

Note: Contrary to what is written in the liner notes and elsewhere, these recordings came from the archive of the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation (not Federation). Also the statement that "although he plays clarinet on this set, Probert was best known as a soprano sax player ." is correct; however, the possible implication here is misleading. While he does play clarinet on some of selections, he plays soprano sax on just as many in this set.

Bert Thompson



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