Perhaps North American jazz lovers are less in awe of Ken Colyer than our counterparts in the UK and Europe. To a generation of fans, Colyer was the essence of jazz heard on radio in their part of the world. A follower of Louis and Bunk, the self-taught musician mastered cornet, trumpet and guitar. As early as 1949, Colyer became a co-founder of the Crane River Jazz Band
which included John R.T.Davies and clarinetist, Monty Sunshine. Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen spawned such stars as Pat Hawes, Acker Bilk and Chris Barber.
Ken Colyer, who passed away in 1988 became an important part of jazz history. The search for his un-issued recordings continues in anticipation of occasions such as this. Music Mecca assures us that this concert has never seen a prior release. That’s great news to Colyer’s many fans. As nice as it is to uncover unheard performances, it’s a fabulous bonus when that material is extremely good.
This is a wonderful little band caught onstage at the Storyville Nightclub in Oisteriljk, Holland in the autumn of 1968. Certainly, there are crowd noises and applause but we can live with that minor annoyance and enjoy the music. Colyer plays in a modest manner, typical of his usual demeanor. The leader seems content with enhancing the playing of his cohorts rather than taking a starring role. With strong players like Geoff Cole and Tony Pyke in the front-line, there is ample space for Colyer to kick butt without offending anyone. The rhythm section is just as strong as the front-end and plays with great taste. Drummer, Malcolm Murphy, sounds as though he was born in the Crescent City.
Ken Colyer was a purist and those band members who defied his dedication to New Orleans didn’t last very long. Clarinetist, Tony Pike, is one of those who shared the leader’s admiration for "things New Orleans." His solo on the seldom heard Arkansas Blues
is beautiful. Geoff Cole is a star in his own right and never blows a bad note, even in small club dates such as this. Thankfully, Cole and Pyke still record on the Jazz Crusade label.
Ken Colyer earned his place in the jazz world through dedication to the music he loved. This Music Mecca
CD is a fine memorial to almost five decades of trad jazz.