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French Preservation New Orleans Jazz Band

Blues for Manny Paul

Upbeat URCD286

 

1. Collegiate

2. Blues for Manny Paul

3. Ciribiribin

4. Red Wing

5. Sheik of Araby

6. Abide with Me

7. Sing On

8. June Night

9. Jambalaya

10. Panama

11. In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree

J[ean-] P[ierre] Alessi – Leader, tenor sax

Sammy Rimington – Reeds, vocal (tracks 5, 8)

Fred Vigorito – Cornet

Cyrille Ouanich – Piano

Jacky Boyadjian – String bass

Vincent Hurel – Drums

Recorded in Charnay Les Macon, France, on November 18, 2006.

Many of the European traditional jazz bands lean toward the New Orleans style, and the French Preservation New Orleans Band, as the name implies, is no exception. In this line up of the band, they have two guests, both of whom are steeped in that style: Fred Vigorito from Connecticut, U.S.A. and Sammy Rimington from Kent, U. K. Both have travelled extensively in the U.S., the U.K., Europe, and other parts of the world, and they have led their own bands.

They mesh perfectly with the other members of the French Preservation New Orleans Jazz Band, as we might expect, and the result is a band that steams through the numbers. Vigorito’s lead is fiery and propels the rest of the band. Rimington is right behind him, whether on clarinet or alto saxophone. The group thus gels, the audience on this live session showing their appreciation of this by their applause after each number and the result is an excellent CD.

Right out of the gate the cohesion is evident as the band launches into Collegiate, the ensemble passages—that trademark of the New Orleans style—being exciting. Prompted by Remington’s display of facility in the upper registers on clarinet and Vigorito’s deft flourishes à la Kid Thomas, the band roars into the coda.

Alessi’s fine tenor sax work makes the absence of a trombone imperceptible throughout. His tribute to his idol Manny Paul, Blues for Manny Paul, is one of the only two slow tempos in the play list (the other being the dirge-like Abide with Me, which, not lending itself to a jazz treatment to me, is perhaps the only track which is less than a complete success), and he carries Blues for Manny Paul by himself, accompanied by the rhythm section, the other two front-liners laying out for the entire cut.

The other tracks are taken at medium or brisk tempos, and they work very well. Rimington has no trouble negotiating all of the registers on the clarinet, as he shows in Sing On, perhaps my favorite track on the disc. Vigorito excels here, too, with his Thomas flourishes, his mute work, especially the hat mute, and his orchestrating of the dynamics. And Vincent Hurel lays down some satisfying New Orleans style parade drumming, showing he has listened to the brass bands such as the Eureka and the Olympia.

Cyrille Ouanich on piano and Jacky Boyadjian on string bass supply a solid underpinning to all of the others—no other rhythm instrument, guitar or banjo, being needed. Ouanich takes a solo here and there, as on Ciribiribin. Boyadjian does not solo, nor does Hurel, the latter only adding a four-bar tag to Panama. Obviously this was to be the final number, and that may account for the tag; however, the band reaches such a climax in the coda, following Vigorito’s very forceful lead throughout and the two dramatic choruses where all drop out except Vigorito and Rimington, that the tag seems almost obligatory.

The audience demands an encore and the band obliges with a tune not done to death on traditional jazz CDs—In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree —thus bringing to a close a another testament to the high standard of traditional jazz that is, and was, being played in Europe. Despite this being a live performance, the sound quality is flawless. Kudos to Upbeat for making it available.

 

Bert Thompson

 


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