Accent on Swing
Opus 5 (version 1)
Don't Get Around Much Anymore
Stop, Look & Listen
Good Queen Bess
Nuages (version 1)
Jump For Me
Blues For Lester
Jive At Five
Sidewalks Of Cuba
Don't Worry `Bout Me
Blues Any Friday
It Don't Mean A Thing
Watch The Birdie
Willie The Weeper
Coldwater Canyon Blues
Opus 5 (version 2)
Roses Of Picardy
My Guy's Come Back
Nuages (version 2)
Charlie Is My Darling
Tea For Two.
The Bruce Turner Jump Band; The Kenny Baker Ensemble; The Dick Heckstall-Smith
Rec. 1956-61 [74:48 + 71:32]
Not only is Lake issuing this twofer for the price of one, but also it contains some superb examples of Bruce Turner's ability to generate unconditional drive in his playing. The best players have their own inbuilt rhythm section, seemingly, and in these Jump Band sides Turner leads by example.
The disc brings back to the catalogue two Turner LPs; Accent
on Swing, and Jumpin' at the NFT. Both are well worth restoration
because they reveal some interesting facets of Turner and his bands.
Immediately we can hear his absorption of Benny Carter's sinuous lines
in the title track, but note too Stan Greig's quite modernist slant
in his piano solo; those who had him pegged as a Lytteltonian traditionalist
reckoned without his imagination, or that indeed of Lyttlelton, and
his own erstwhile front line partner, Turner. Bruce evokes Artie Shaw
on Cream Puff whilst he also patterns some tracks after the
Ducal small groups; understandably during Don't Get Around Much Anymore
his vibrato swells to Hodges-like proportions. His front line partner
in most cases was John Chilton who plays especially hotly on Stop,
Look & Listen, with its taut and tight arrangement. By now the
Jump Band tropes are in places; based on John Kirby's band, infused
by Basie and by Ellington's small groups and adding some traces of
The tracks that don't come from the two LPs noted above, largely derive from the LP Midnight at Nixa and feature The Kenny Baker Ensemble; in one incarnation, Baker and Turner were backed by pianist Derek Smith, bassist Frank Clarke and drummer Phil Seamen - a terrific little group with Basie affiliations. Baker storms away on It Don't Mean A Thing showing just why he was probably the hottest trumpeter in Britain at the time. Throughout, on occasion, Turner plays clarinet; he's not as distinctive a player on that instrument as he is on alto but he's never less than exciting. Repertoire is also worth noting. One of the very few songs that really goes `way back' is Willie the Weeper but it's case of Old Wine, New Bottle in the case of this arrangement, which happily refashions it Jump Style. Tradition Revisited, you might say.
There are a few examples of different versions of the same tune - Opus 5, for example or Nuages. And there are a few rather less than convincing genre pieces - Cave Girl and Charlie is My Darling are probably best heard once and then forgotten. There's also some nasty studio reverb in a 1960 session (My Guy's Come Back sounds unpleasant). Still, persevere and you'll hear Dick Heckstall-Smith coming on like Bechet and altoist Bertie King, a particular favourite of mine, trading choruses with Turner on Tea for Two. Not to be missed.
So all round this is an excellent tribute to this watertight Jump Band exponent in these fine series of sessions. It's good to salute Turner in this way. He is celebrated in his own light for once - not as an adjunct to Humph or someone else, but as the outstanding soloist that he was.