Although the cover suggests that this series covers hymns and spirituals, it really covers both the sacred and the secular forms of jazz. It does both very, very well.
There is not a lot of money to be made in New Orleans style jazz. The musicians play the style because they love the music. Producers and organizers spend their hard-earned money with little hope of any worthwhile returns on their dollars or euros. Strangely, they never seem to give up. Music lovers are a special breed and, as fans, we benefit from their labor and financial losses by hearing great jazz.
We are indebted to three individuals for making this material available. Christian Westergaard is a consummate jazz fan and record collector. He arranges concerts at the Sorgenfri Lutheran Church (Kirke) near Copenhagen. He also pays the talent out of his own pocket and writes the liner notes for the recorded sessions. Henning Schädler is executive producer and owner of Music Mecca Records. He gets the opportunity to lose his shirt or occasionally win one. Kjeld Brandt is the clarinetist leader of New Orleans Delight in Denmark. His expertise in graphic design provides the CDs with great covers and beautiful press kits without charge.
Perhaps this is beginning to sound like an editorial but reviewers receive samples everyday. How often do we ever consider the work and money that goes into the production of the jazz we review? Publicists are expected to do their best even though their efforts appeal to a minority of fans. This editorializing is just one writer’s way of saying thanks to all the music lovers who buy the good jazz produced by those little privately owned labels around the world. They need your support!
The producers would be nowhere if it were not for the dedicated musicians in the realm of New Orleans jazz. They try, usually with success, to carry on the traditions of revivalists such as George Lewis, Paul Barbarin, Kid Thomas, Jim Robinson, Billie Pierce, Punch Miller, Polo Barnes and dozens more. That fact is apparent on these two volumes. The first notes heard on Volume One come from the horn of the late Sonny Morris whose band evolved from his experience with the fine Crane River Jazz Band led by Ken Colyer. Their version of Closer Walk
runs a generous eight minutes and it’s a gem.
New Orleans Delight is a band local to Denmark but composed of both Danish and Swedish players. Led by Kjeld Brandt, the group is joined on Volume 1 by British trumpeter Ken Pye and pianist Mike Lunn. They romp with style on the popular Royal Telephone
, well appreciated in Britain but almost unknown in America. The group returns on the second volume in the company of vocalist Kristin Lomholt. The New England educated songstress introduced me to an obscure composition, My Curley Headed Baby
and I found the tune to be captivating.
The Blount Band was formed after the death of its clarinetist leader, Chris Blount. Blount himself who passed away prior to the gig handled the original arrangement for the concert. The very capable Colin Radford occupies the clarinet chair here. The band plays a couple of popular New Orleans standards, Salee Dame
extolling the Crescent City’s famed ladies of the evening
and the memorable George Lewis tune, Burgundy Street Blues
. Both tunes are handled beautifully and the Blount Band returns on Volume 2 with some spirituals.
The first volume includes a couple of tracks by Jensen's New Orleans Jazzband featuring the British clarinetist, Brian Carrick. The little band is led by Denmark’s Kurt Jensen and includes his wife and daughter on bass and banjo. The septet does a fine job on If You See My Savior
and Lily of the Valley
. Brian Carrick returns on the second volume fronting his own Algiers Stompers patterned after the band of the late Kid Thomas Valentine. The Stompers excel on I’ll Fly Away
and Just a Little While To Stay Here
Perhaps the highlight of both volumes, in my humble opinion, is the "tear it down" attitude of Sweden’s Göta River Jazzmen. This septet captured my attention on all seven tracks performed on volumes 1 & 2. They arrived at the concerts with hymns never played before in the traditional New Orleans style. These are tunes like Jesus Has Given his Life For The World
penned by Frederik K.EkstrÖm (1819-1901) and Does Jesus Care
. In contrast, they include the familiar Precious Lord
written by Georgia Tom. The group’s pianist, Ingemar Wågerman, just knocked me out. What a great band!
This pair of CDs is a worthwhile investment for those who love traditional revival fare.