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Colyer Rarities: Farewell to Studio 51

Upbeat URCD293




1. Everywhere You Go

2. Maria Elena

3. I Can’t Escape from You

4. Sugar Blues

5. Should I?

6. You Tell Me Your Dream

7. The Entertainer

8. Bogalusa Strut

9. Heliotrope Bouquet

10. Thriller Rag

11. My Blue Heaven

Ken Colyer – Cornet, vocal (track 11)

Sammy Rimington – Clarinet, alto sax

Ray Smith – Piano

Barry Palser – Trombone (tracks 6-10)

Pete Dyer – Trombone (tracks 1-5, 11)

Alan ‘Jinx’ Johns – Bass

Colin Bowden – Drums

Recorded live at Studio 51, Great Newport St., London, on Feb. 12, 1972.

In my review of Upbeat URCD265 Colyer from the Archives, I closed by saying

Undoubtedly there are other private recordings out there of gigs where Colyer heads one or another aggregation. Some may be of sufficiently high quality to release. This was one such, and fortunately Upbeat chose to make it available….

Happily, these sentiments apply equally well to this CD, Colyer Rarities,. John and Renée Long recorded this concert live at Studio 51, which had been Colyer’s jazz club at Great Newport Street in London, close to Leicester Square , from around 1954 through the late 1960s. Colyer still appeared there occasionally right through 1972, the date of this recording, shortly after which the club closed. Harking back to those times is a blue memorial plaque on the outside wall, commemorating Colyer’s and Studio 51’s presence there.

There are no surprises on this disc. All of the tracks are vintage Colyer, who, regardless of the personnel, it seems, always took command and brought the musicians together into a coherent whole, one which is identifiable as a Colyer group. To a small degree we see this here where, no matter which trombonist is playing, the ensembles sound much the same from track to track with no discernible differences.

Colyer, despite the difficulties that the stomach cancer diagnosed later that year must have occasioned, has that warm, mellow tone, with the slight vibrato, that is such a trademark of his playing. He doesn’t venture often into the upper register, and he never tries to blow the back wall down but rather contributes a laid-back lead. His playing is almost introspective, and when he is not playing lead, he complements sparingly and below whoever is. Rimington’s clarinet playing is fluid and effortless, dovetailing so well with what the rest of the front line is doing. Ray Smith on piano and Colin Bowden on drums, had, like Rimington, often played before with Colyer. Bowden, of course, was a long-time cohort of Colyer’s, having been part of the “classic” Colyer band. The two trombonists, Palser and Dyer, appear to have traded off. As Pointon informs us in the inlay notes, Palser was leader of the Savoy Jazzmen, and Dyer and Jones were members of the Kid Martyn Ragtime Band.

Ensemble is, as we might expect from a Colyer group, always to the fore. The band can stretch out on each selection, the eleven tracks adding up to a little under 70 minutes total. While the contents are typical Colyer fare and the majority of the tunes on the tune list have appeared on CDs recorded by groups that included Colyer in their line-ups as well as his own groups, all are certainly worth listening to again. Several have appeared infrequently, possibly only once before on a Colyer recording, such asMaria Elena, Sugar Blues, Should I, You Tell Me Your Dream, and My Blue Heaven, and are thus “rarities,” as the disc’s title suggests.

Once again we are indebted to the late John Long and his wife Renée for making this concert recording available and to Upbeat and Liz Biddle for issuing it. Colyer aficionados will want to have this additional issue on their Colyer shelf, as will others who enjoy relaxed traditional jazz in the New Orleans style. With luck, more unissued material will emerge in the near future.

Upbeat CDs are available on the Upbeat web site as well as on-line from sites such as Amazon and CD Universe.ere

Bert Thompson


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