The newest release from Music Mecca brings two old pals together for the last time as they join the fine Danish band, New Orleans Delight. Cliff 'Kid' Bastien and George Berry have been friends since 1967. Both players are British born and spent many years in Canada. New Orleans Delight
is a traditional jazz outfit without a trumpet player. While other bands would consider this a handicap, N.O.D find it's a blessing. Their appearances include guest trumpet stars from Europe, Britain or North America.
When invited to do a Scandinavian tour with the N.O.D, Bastien was hesitant due to a life-long fear of flying. When told that his old buddy, George Berry would be doing the gig, Bastien agreed. Sadly, this would be a final tour for the well-loved trumpeter. Only two months after recording this session, Cliff passed away at his home in Toronto.
Cliff Bastien became firmly hooked by New Orleans revival jazz in the 1950's and upon visiting the Crescent City in 1957, he was knocked-out by the trumpet work of Kid Thomas Valentine. Moving to Canada in 1962, Bastien brought his love of jazz, his magnetic personality and a ton of enthusiasm to Toronto. The city had heard a lot of traditional jazz in the past through such bands as Trump Davidson, Ken Dean's Hot Seven and The Queen City Jazz Band. Kid Bastien became a pioneer of sorts, and fostered an interest in jazz played in the rough and ready New Orleans style. The Kid
held court at Grossman's Tavern from 1968 until his death in February 2003. That was a great gig! Adept at bass, banjo, drums and trombone in addition to the trumpet, he tutored many other musicians in his favorite jazz style.
Over the years he headed The Black Eagle Jazz Band
, Kid Bastien's Camelia Band
and his Happy Pals
. The Happy Pals
continue to play the gig at Grossman's Tavern without their beloved leader but with the backing of the legions of friends inherited through Cliff's legacy.
The Music Mecca session was recorded at a live performance in the SeaSide Jazzklub
at Frederikssund on November 30,2002. Happily, the trumpeter was able to hear and approve the final tracks before he passed on. The resulting presentation is a thing of beauty. The collaboration of label owner Christian Westergaard, recording engineer Jorgen Vad, writer Marcel Joly, photographer Goran Magnusson and graphic designer Kjeld Brandt make this a very pretty package. Marcel Joly's articulate liner notes appear in booklet form and outline Bastien's life perfectly. Major recording companies could learn something from this small label. Without good music, the package would mean little. Happily, the music is exciting and a fine example of raw New Orleans fare. Bastien's trumpet enthusiasm is matched by a most professional band, New Orleans Delight
led by clarinetist Kjeld Brandt. Brandt recently appeared as a guest in New Orleans at Preservation Hall and at gigs with trumpet star, Gregg Stafford. New Orleans Delight has a huge fan base in Europe and I recently saw their gig list. The band is tightly booked into mid 2004.
Together, Bastien, Berry and Brandt are electrically energized. A wonderful synergy results from the combination of the three players. I'm just guessing when I suggest that Cliff Bastien picked the tunes. It's an eclectic mix bearing his trademark. The Kid Thomas anthem, Algiers Strut
kicks off the set which includes other Crescent City classics such as Joe Avery's Piece, Winin' Boy Blues
. The trumpeter traditionally included unusual items in a performance. Here it happens to be the Cajun song Big Mamou
with wonderful new rhythms. Another takes the form of the calypso favorite, Sloop John B
with a jazzy new look. Since Walter Donaldson is my favorite composer, it was nice to hear the band's version of A Thousand Goodnights
. Adrian Rollini recorded the tune in the 30's but I'd never heard it until now. Bastien's vocal shows his sensitivity for vintage material and his singing throughout this CD is fine.
George Berry's tenor attack echoes the sound of Manny Paul and every note carries a knife-edge. On Joe Avery's Piece
Berry takes the lead solo and then slices off a boogie woogie bass figure behind Bastien's solo. Proficient on reeds, George plays clarinet, tenor and alto sax. He appears on vinyl in Canada with Kid Bastien's Camelia Band and with Kid Chapman's Olympia Band.
While this CD is obviously not for Charlie Parker fans, New Orleans devotees will love it. It's a fitting memorial to a kind, gentle and generous human being. Cliff's wish was to be buried in New Orleans and his wish was granted.