Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Tribute to the Original Crane River Jazz Band by the Ken Colyer Trust Jazz Band CD Review by George A. Borgman

The Ken Colyer Trust New Orleans Jazz Band performs on this recording in tribute to the Original Crane River Jazz Band which attempted to emulate the black New Orleans jazz sound. The band pays tribute to the Cranes and does not attempt to copy them, according to Big Bill Bissonnette's album notes.
This CD features great ensemble playing from the front line and interesting contrapuntal support for the solos and melodic leads. Hugh Crozier takes excellent piano solos and the rhythm section is very solid with Malcolm Hurrell playing fine rhythmic banjo, Terry Knight plucking very well the bass strings, and drummer Male Murphy does everything correctly, using all the accouterments of his drum set.

The tunes have been well selected. "Down in Jungle Town," the opener, from 1908, immediately presents the listener with various elements of the New Orleans sound with trombonist Dave Vickers doing his stuff from the beginning backed by the steady rhythm section.
In 1923, reedman Art Kassel (leader of Chicago "sweet" dance and stage bands) and drummer Vie Berton (manager of Bix Beiderbecke's Wolverines, beginning in 1924) wrote "Sobbin' Blues." Since then there were numerous recordings of it by such bands as King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band (Okeh label), the New Orleans Rhythm Kings (Gennett), Ted Lewis' (Columbia), Lew Brown's (Bluebird), Bunny Berigan's (Victor), and Artie Shaw and His Strings (Brunswick). On this rendition of "Sobbin' Blues," clarinetist Norman Field plays very good counterpoint behind the melodic line.
"Wolverine Blues" (1923) was written by Jelly Roll Morton along with, according to some sources, the brothers Benjamin F. and John C. Spikes. It was recorded by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings (Gennett 5102, 1923); by Morton, on solo piano (Gennett 5289, 1923-24) and by his Red Hot Peppers (Victor 21064, June 10, 1927); and by Larry Clinton and His Orchestra (Victor, 25863). Here, in a rendition that is more than seven minutes long, there is great stride piano during several choruses followed by some lively playing by the clarinet, Norman Thatcher's and Sonny Morris' trumpets and the trombone in wonderful togetherness.

In 1939, Morton copyrighted his "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say," also known as "Buddy Bolden Blues," and here it is performed wonderfully with a fine piano solo and some nice duet choruses from the trumpets. Another excellent trumpet duet is heard on "Pretty Baby," a Tin Pan Alley tune that was introduced to the public in 1915 through A World of Pleasure, a Broadway musical, and it was interpolated by Dolly Hackett in The Passing Show of 1916, also a stage musical. Subsequently, "Pretty Baby" was featured in a dozen motion pictures. And the group does very well on "Wabash Blues" which features a wonderful piano solo.
On this compact disc, the superb musical sounds, influenced by the Original Crane River Jazz Band, are those associated with old New Orleans. This CD is one of Jazz Crusade's better releases in recent years.   - George A. Borgman, IAJRC Journal

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