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Live in London in 2000

Jazz Crusade JCCD3055


1. Lazy Piano Man

2. Salty Dog

3. It Had to Be You

4. Farewell to Storyville

5. Sweet Patootie

6. Wild Man Blues

7. Down in Jungle Town

8. The Glory of Love

9. Oh! Peter

10. Shine

11. Minnie the Moocher

12. My Gal Sal

13. See See Rider

14. C-Jam Blues

Pat Hawes – Piano and vocals (tracks 2, 4, 8, 9, 11, 13)

Alan Elsdon – Trumpet

Goff Dubber – Reeds

Mike Pointon – Trombone

John Rodber – String bass

Rex Bennett – Drums

Recorded Riverside Arts Centre, Sunbury on Thames, U.K., Mar. 6, 2000.

This album was first issued as JCCD-3055: Pat Hawes--That Salty Dog in Mar. 2000 on the Jazz Crusade label, and only the title has been changed on this reissue.

Pat Hawes has been on the scene for a long time and probably most jazz fans in the U.K. will be familiar with him and his work, although he never became known as a band leader. He certainly appeared and recorded with many bands, including the Crane River Jazz Band, Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen, the Christie Brothers Stompers, and bands led by various jazzmen, such as Cy Laurie, Geoff Coles, Dave Carey, as well as the backing band for Big Bill Broonzy when he toured the U.K. in 1952, some recordings from that tour being issued on the Jasmine label. Hawes did head up a band in 1957 for a 77 Records date in 1957, but no other, I believe, until this one in 2000 for a recording date organized by Bill Bissonnette.

Although it is a pick-up band, it is composed of well-seasoned musicians, most of whom are fixtures on the traditional jazz scene, each being quite sympatico with the others. While it leans slightly toward the New Orleans style, there are fewer ensembles and more solos than one usually finds in New Orleans bands.. The tune list contains both standards and lesser-known pieces, such as Lazy Piano Man, Sweet Patootie, and Oh! Peter. I am always pleased to find such tunes included on a CD as it is always interesting to hear a “new” (or forgotten) number.

Leader Hawes was, according to the booklet, somewhat loath to take as many vocals as he does, but Bissonnette insisted. Hawes does not strain, even resorting occasionally to some “talking vocals,” and the result is pleasant listening. The only small problem is with Oh! Peter, the speaker being of the feminine gender, but Hawes does not let that stop him, any more than do all of the female vocalists that sing a male point of view and the males that sing a female one (other than, of course, where the gender can be changed—Mama becoming Papa, Papa Mama, etc., as,. for instance, in See See Rider.)

As he usually does, Hawes most ably supports the others, and he is quite competent as a soloist as he demonstrates on his piano feature Lazy Piano Man or on Wild Man Blues where we are treated to a fine piano introduction, followed by a trip once through the tune accompanied only by rhythm, from where it continues with the rest of the band joining in. The track begins swinging mightily and never lets up in that regard until it concludes.

Elsdon plays a fine lead horn. His mute work is very exact—witness Lazy Piano Man or Salty Dog, and his open horn is likewise—crisp, precise, not loud, but notes well chosen. He can also bend a note with the best of them, as My Gal Sal attests. The other front liners enhance the proceedings, Goff Duber exhibiting his technique on both clarinet and tenor sax, the latter particularly on C-jam Blues, the lead of which he carries almost entirely since only he and the rhythm section participate. Finally Mike Pointon is always right there, whether it be a meaty solo as on Wild Man Blues or the gruff tone often to be heard in the ensembles.

That only leaves to bass and drums to consider, and their contribution is mainly to the ensembles. Rodber does not solo, but Bennett does on C-jam Blues, his solo being very tasteful.

Is the occasion an unqualified success? I would have to say “no.” The group takes a risk by setting a very slow tempo for Shine, and I’m afraid it does not come off. After the initial statement of it in the opening ensemble, the melody tends to be lost track of totally in the solos, not being restated clearly until the last time through. The inclusion of Minnie the Moocher was another risk taken that I think did not really pay off. The tune is so associated with Cab Calloway, whose success with it belongs much to his physical presence—his gyrations and antics as a showman—as to the tune’s intrinsic merit, so that the performance has to be “seen” as well as heard, it seems to me. Here, of course, it can only be heard, but the group relies almost totally on following Calloway’s arrangement, and I am left wondering why.

But other than those cavils, I found the CD is a very enjoyable one in the revivalist style—most tunes following the “intro - ensemble - string of solos - ensemble a time or two, and then out” pattern. However, contrary to what so often happens in such cases, dullness does not result because (a) the order of solos is not same each time, and (b) the individual musicians have something to say!

If you are inclined to want some very good jazz that can and does swing, then this CD will fill the bill. Upbeat CDs are available on the Upbeat web site as well as on-line from sites such as Amazon and CD Universe.

Bert Thompson


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