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Dick Cathcart

Pete Kelly's Blues, his 25 Finest 1950-59

RETROSPECTIVE RTR 4308 [78:18]

 

 


 

Pete Kelly’s Blues

Smiles

I Never Knew

Royal Garden Blues

Tin Roof Blues

What Can I Say After I Say I'm Sorry?

Sugar, That Sugar Baby of Mine

Bye-Bye Blackbird

Hard Hearted Hannah

Over There

They Can't Take That Away from Me

Jazz Me Blues

Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble

Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider

Sugar Foot Stomp

Louisiana

At the Jazz Band Ball

In a Mist

Ja-Da

Fat Annie's Place

Ain't We Got Fun?

Chinatown, My Chinatown

Dixieland Blues

Carry Be Back to Old Virginny

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Dick Cathcart with Pete Kelly and his Big Seven, Ben Pollack and his Pick-A-Rib Boys, Matty Matlock and his Dixie Men, his Quartet. Warren Barker and his orchestra, The Kings of Dixieland

Recorded 1950-59

 

Trumpeter Dick Cathcart (1924-93) is something of a forgotten man. As Digby Fairweather reminds readers in his entertaining, enthusiastic and insightful booklet notes, Cathcart was a regular on the Lawrence Welk Show and was the ‘Pete Kelly’ figure in Jack Webb’s radio and TV shows of the same name. Such near-anonymity was not good for his jazz profile and the LP he made under his own name, Bix MCMLIX, is hard to find even on the secondhand market: four tracks are included in this Retrospective salute. So, this near-80 minute disc allows one to get to grips with the recordings Cathcart made in the 1950s, his heyday in the commercial broadcasting milieu.

The majority of tracks were made with his Big Seven, with its shifting personnel that included luminaries such as Eddie Miller, Matty Matlock, Moe Schneider, and a near-constant rhythm section anchored by pianist Ray Sherman, guitarist George van Eps, bassist Jud DeNaut and the great drummer Nick Fatool. Pete Kelly’s Blues shows, in its beautiful melancholia, Miller’s subtle refinement and Cathcart’s own instincts which were somewhat reminiscent of Harry James in tone but also of Bix Beiderbecke in note placement and timing. But this band scored up-tempo too and here a Billy Butterfield-like bravado entered Cathcart’s brass lexicon.

Van Eps shines in his gleaming solo on a laid-back arrangement of Sugar whilst Cathcart’s taut solo on Bye-Bye, Blackbird has something of Bobby Hackett’s way about it. Lest this implies Cathcart was a magpie, in truth that’s not the case; he absorbed much from James, Bix, Butterfield, Hackett and even Wild Bill Davison but turned it to his stylistic advantage; it was a case of absorption not copyism. The arrangements are invariably attractive and not hackneyed. Standards they may be, in the main, but there is no evidence of stale go-rounds; the music is imbued with vitality and confidence. Give trombonist Abe Lincoln a listen as he bustles away in Jazz Me Blues and listen too to the quintet sides Cathcart made – trumpet and rhythm – where he is crisp and to the point. The sides with Warren Baker’s orchestra don’t present any muddiness; Cathcart remains true to his roots. And in the final tracks here, dating from 1959, his punchy articulate lead remains wholly intact.

Many - perhaps most - of these tracks have not been transferred to CD before which makes this disc all the more welcome, not least because of the tune selection, remastering and notes.

Jonathan Woolf




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