Blues for Manny Paul
4. Red Wing
5. Sheik of Araby
6. Abide with Me
7. Sing On
8. June Night
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.