- I Want A Little Girl
- Pretty Baby
- Weary Blues
- Wolverine Blues
- Faraway Blues
- When I Leave The World Behind
- Midnight Hour Blues
- When You're Smiling
- Till We Meet Again
- Home Sweet Home
The Crane River Jazz band
rec. November 1988, Nottingham Rhythm Club
LAKE LACD 306 [70:13]
During the course of this live gig at Nottingham Rhythm Club in November 1988-part of the `Allan Gilmour Tapes' series-Monty Sunshine announces that it was to be the last ever Crane River Jazz Band performance. Fortunately that proved not to be the case.
The band had preserved qualities of drive and communicative ‚sprit that had been part of their DNA from the first. The session nicely underscores the point. There are fine solos throughout and equally good ensemble work. The rugged honesty of the band shines out, propelled by Colin Bowden's New Orleans-steeped drumming, Sunshine's soaring clarinet- fortunately he was better recorded than John R.T. Davies's characteristically wheezy alto and trombone-is a tonic, as I well remember from his gigs at the 100 Club. Bob Ward's trombone playing, too, adds a personable, very idiosyncratic gloss. Sonny Morris leads unfussily, and directly.
Pretty Baby is a Sunshine vehicle, a man who never failed to inject some Creole bravura during his solos, and there is a nice alto/clarinet exchange in Wolverine Blues reminiscent of Jimmie Noone and Doc Poston, followed by a richly gruff trombone solo and fine band voicings. This is an undersung feature of the Crane's performances-cleverly varied front-line and backing voicings. When I Leave The World Behind really generates some heat towards the end, in the same way that some of Big Bill Bissonette's recordings with New Orleans stars did. When the Cranes cooked, they were indeed a hot outfit. The repertoire is attractive, ranging from a Leroy Carr blues to Morton, inevitably, and popular songs. Pat Hawes plays a fine piano on the Carr, singing too, in a salute to Ken Colyer who had loved the song.
There is the usual vocal long the way, which some may not care too much for, but in the main we get the Cranes in their mature finery in this live gig, and what they believed to be their final gig together. Clearly the recording wasn't intended to be issued, and not all of it survives, and that which does is not perfectly balanced. But the restoration sounds first class. I only noticed one thing-what sounds like a tiny drop-out at 4:20 in When You're Smiling.