This new release from Mart Rodger and his Manchester Jazz is most welcome. Mart’s CDs are never a disappointment and the band is rather different from many UK trad groups in that they embrace a number of styles. In addition to standard New Orleans fare, Manchester Jazz also plays the styles of New York, Chicago and Kansas City. Formed in 1984, the group is in demand at festivals in Europe, England, USA and Canada. They completed an American tour about 18 months ago.
The title is drawn from one of the featured Frank Loesser songs At Moments Like This, Who Cares
and it’s a fine vehicle for Mart’s exuberant vocal treatment. Another gem is the seldom heard Texas Moaner Blues
penned by Clarence Williams in 1924. Other than the original Williams recording, I’ve never heard another American version of this great down ‘n dirty blues. Jelly Roll Morton receives ample hero worship with a romping rendition of Kansas City Stomps
and the beautiful Ponchartrain Blues
. It was nice to hear Love Nest
again. If you are of my vintage, you’ll recall this 1920 tune as the theme song of George Burns and Gracie Allen. They don’t write ‘em like that anymore.
Far above your garden variety Dixieland band, Manchester Jazz take their happy music seriously and faithfully reproduce the feeling of earlier and happier times. I loved this CD and highly recommend it to fans of early jazz. The piano and trombone solos on Texas Moaner are alone worth the price of the record