CD Reviews

MusicWeb International

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

Reviewers: Tony Augarde, Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

[ Jazz index ] [Nostalgia index]  [ Classical MusicWeb ] [ Gerard Hoffnung ]

Frank Goudie
Vol 1 AmazonUK   AmazonUS
Vol 2 AmazonUK   AmazonUS


Frank “Big Boy” Goudie on the West Coast

Vol. 1: Big Boy’s Blues, 1958-62; Grammercy CD 426

Vol. 2: Frank’s Jams, 1959-63; Grammercy CD 427



Vol. I Playing time: 72m. 44s.

1. Just a Closer Walk with Thee

2. Mack the Knife

3. Saturday Night Function

4. Basin Street Blues

5. When You’re Smiling (fragment)

6. Blues from the Valley

7. Black Egg Blues

8. Say Si, Si

9. Should I?

10. Willie the Weeper

11. Petite Fleur

12. Nobody Knows

13. I Want a Little Girl

14. Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You

Vol. II Playing time: 76m. 19s.

1. You’re Driving Me Crazy

2. You Took Advantage of Me

3. Shake That Thing

4. See See Rider

5. Just Because

6. Under the Bamboo Tree

7. Should I?

8. The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me

9. Just a Closer Walk with Thee

10. Joseph. Joseph

11. Sweet Sue

12. The King (incomplete)

13. Rose Room

14. Struttin’ with Some Barbeque

15. High Society

Personnel include, among others:

Frank Goudie – Clarinet (all tracks)

Burt Bales, Bill Erickson – Piano

P. T. Stanton – Trumpet

Walt Yost – Cornet

Bill Napier – Clarinet

Bob Mielke, Bill Bardin, Jim Leigh – Trombone

Dick Oxtot – Banjo

Pete Allen, Squire Girsback – String bass

Don Marchant, Jimmy Carter – Drums

Various recording dates and locations and complete personnel given in case inlay.

Standing at some six feet five inches and weighing around 250 lbs, Frank “Big Boy” Goudie (pronounced “Goody”) was an imposing figure on the bandstand, and his musical prowess was equally impressive. Yet he has, until now at least, been relatively unknown. In large part this is undoubtedly because he spent the better part of his life (1899-1964) working in Europe and South America, finally coming back in 1956 to the United States and settling in California, where he lived until his death in San Francisco.

As might be surmised from the title, this pair of CDs features Goudie playing with some of the best (U.S.) West Coast musicians and the groups a few led. Although also proficient on trumpet and tenor saxophone, he does not play either here, staying with clarinet only. His playing of that instrument is notable for several qualities. One is immediately struck by just how smooth his tone is. Nothing is forced, and he effortlessly produces runs, smears, arpeggios, and just about any other clarinet technique that comes to mind. In addition, he is at ease in all registers on his instrument, as he demonstrates throughout the tracks of these CD’s.

All of this is immediately apparent, from the first track on vol. 1,Just a Closer Walk with Thee to the last on vol. 2, High Society. In the process, he never tries to dominate in ensemble passages or duets, always having “playing for the band” in mind. His ideas are also highly interesting—witness those in Say Si Si (vol.1) where he trades contrapuntal choruses with Butterman and Bardin, or in Just a Closer Walk with Thee (vol. 2) and Joseph, Joseph (vol. 2), for example, where he and Mielke trade playing counterpoint to each other in successive choruses.

Goudie can also supply thoughtful obbligatos, as he does to Mielke’s trombone solo on Just a Closer Walk (vol.1). And his interpretation of Picou’s famous clarinet solo on High Society (vol. 2) is welcome relief from many others’ attempts to copy it note for note. He is also quite adept at switching gears to play in a more modern vein, one example being provided on vol. 2 of this set, The King.

As well as playing fine clarinet in a group setting, Goudie is also quite at home with a trio or quartet. With one instance, the trio we hear on You Took Advantage of Me (vol. 2), the spotlight is fully on him, and we hear his various improvisations, played in a very laid back manner. In fact, it is very relaxing to the listener—one can well imagine what a pleasure it would be just to sit back, favorite beverage in hand, and indulge in the music treat Goudie offers.

Finally, Goudie was also recognized for his vocals, but he is only given one on this set, Basin Street Blues (vol. 1); unfortunately it is somewhat off-mike, so it is difficult to judge its merits, but what one can hear seems to be good.

Given all of this, it is small wonder that Goudie was in high demand everywhere he played and never lacked for work, whether with a full size seven- or eight-piece traditional jazz band or simply a trio or quartet, all of which combinations are on this dual set of CD’s.

These two CD’s, along with another set also put out by Grammercy Records, should help Goudie the musician become better known.* Dave Radlauer, who re-mastered, researched, and produced the set, also wrote the liner notes as well as a series of articles on Goudie which appeared in Just Jazz magazine (September, October, November, and December, 2020, issues) and also in The Syncopated Times (July, August, and September, 2020 issues). In them he supplies biographical details. Of this set of CD’s, Radlauer says, “It may be found on iTunes, Amazon, e-Bay or streaming service.”

*Other CD issues that contain or feature Goudie were Frank Goudie With Amos White's Band & Burt Bales on American Music AMCD 60 (1991); Bill Coleman (accompanied by various musicians, including Goudie) on DRG Records DRG145 (1985), also on Disques Swing 8402 (1985), and the Live at Monkey Inn series on Grammercy CD-420, 421, 422 (2015).

In addition to these CD’s, there was an LP Swing Sessions 3 – 1938/1939 with Goudie appearing on one side on Pathé – 2C 054-16023 (no release date found), and there were also some half dozen 78’s on the Jugoton, Telefunken, and Columbia labels (issued during the 1950’s).

Bert Thompson

Return to Index