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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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RAY FOXLEY

The Professor's Choice

LAKE LACD304

 

 

  1. Liberia Rag
  2. Once In A While
  3. Black Queen Rag
  4. Loggerrhythms
  5. Blues For Ken
  6. Saffron Rag
  7. Old Fashioned Love
  8. Ealing Touch
  9. Chauvinism
  10. Davenport Blues
  11. The Frenchman's
  12. Serendipity Dance
  13. 51 Stomp
  14. Maple Leaf Rag
  15. Vieux Carre
  16. Key Largo
  17. Acton Stations
  18. Ealing Touch (`live').


Ray Foxley (piano)
Rec. Rosehill Theatre, Moresby, Whitehaven 1989 (except the final track; The Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal 1990)
LAKE LACD304 [61:55]

 

Ray Foxley was a professor in the New Orleans sense. Born in Birmingham in 1928 he began band-leading in 1946, but is probably best remembered for his three year tenure of the piano stool of Ken Colyer's band, which started in 1957. Foxley remained active until his death in 2002. Lake's Paul Adams invited Foxley to make a solo album in 1989 and the session duly took place but for various reasons-he hated recording and clearly prevaricated over the disc's release-nothing has transpired until now. It's getting on for a decade since his death and, with this in mind, Lake has taken the plunge and released the session, adding a single live performance from the following year. Incidentally for those interested in the pianist I can heartily recommend his contribution to Lake's disc called `Sporting House Piano', about which I was enthusiastic in my review.

Like Ron Weatherburn, Foxley was something of an underestimated member of the community of Rag and Boogie ticklers. He was an articulate, respectful, stylistically acute performer of Rags, and a laid back Blues and Boogie player. The tracks on this session, a number of them his own compositions, are elegant, tonally rewarding, rhythmically on the button and very pleasing in all respects. Loggerrhythms-nicely punning title-enshrines some railroad boogie whilst the self explanatory Blues for Ken, celebrates the memory of his erstwhile employer with an authentic creativity.

He was immersed in the lexicon of Jelly Roll Morton but he clearly liked Yancey and Clarence Lofton from the sound of it. I sense, too, from his performance of Davenport Blues, that he admired Jess Stacy. These influences were all beneficial and good. He cultivated a crisp rhythmic sense for Rags, with a deftly deployed left hand, and a solid control of Blues vernacular. The one live performance reprises his composition Ealing Touch in a vivid and engaging performance.

It's good that this session, which might otherwise have mouldered away, has seen the light of day. Foxley was a fine player, a professor then in the New Orleans sense-a rag expert, blues practitioner, and fine exponent of his chosen music.

Jonathan Woolf



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