Monday, May 5, 2014

By George! - It's Probert in England CD Review - by George A. Borgman

Reedman George Probert gets together with a few English jazz players on this recording to produce some good jazz in the traditional style of New Orleans.
The first tune sets the mood for the whole recording, for it is an exciting rendition of Vincent Youmans' "I Want to Be Happy," which was introduced to the public in 1925 in the stage musical No, No, Nanette, and it was subsequently featured in a couple of movies and Broadway revivals. Here, trombonist Geoff Cote and pianist Pat Hawes take interesting solos, and Probert shines on the soprano sax, with fine drum work from drummer Pete Lay.
There is good interplay between Probert's reeds and Sarah Bissonnette's tenor saxophone on several of the tunes, but the blending of their instruments does not always work well, especially on "Chloe," on which there seems to be a difference of opinion between the two saxophonists in regard to certain chord changes. Also, at times, there is too much tenor saxophone backup to the other frontliners' solos.

Hawes' piano and the front line are outstanding on the extremely long (almost nine minutes) "Arkansas Blues" (1921), by Anton Lada and Spencer Williams. There are fine solos from Probert's soprano, Dave Copperwaite's trumpet and Andy Ford's banjo, with some nice counterpoint provided by Bissonnette, on "Over in the Gloryland." The trombone and the piano shine on "Just One More Chance" and good ensemble playing is featured on "My Old Kentucky Home" and J. C. Higginbotham's "Give Me Your Telephone Number," a real swinger and one of the better renditions.
In 1920, Paul Whiteman introduced "Whispering" on a Victor recording, which sold a million copies, and it was later featured in four film musicals: Ziegfeld Girl (1941), Greenwich Village (1944), Give My Regards to Broadway (1948), and The Eddy Duchin Story (1956). The All-Stars play "Whispering" quite well here, with a fine piano solo in the middle, as Ken Matthews provides a solid beat in the background on the bass.
So, the British tradition of New Orleans jazz continues, but this compact disc, even though many of the tunes are excellently performed, is not always the best example of it; however, it is worth possessing. - George A. Borgman, IAJRC Journal

Chloe: George Probert, recorded December 23, 1995 at the Pizza Express, Maidstone, England by Dave Bennett.

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