Various Artists: Great Traditionalists and Quartier Latin Jazz Band, Volume One
The disc opens up like a book, and you are surrounded by history. In a generation’s time (1960-89) we follow Dieter Antritter as he plays with an amazing cast. In studio and in concert, we go from weary blues to happy swing, an old sound with the fervor of youth. And the people! A song by a Canadian school teacher is followed by a guy who played in World War I with Jim Europe’s Hell Fighters Band! There are forgotten faces, cult figures, a bona fide legend – and top-class players from Europe. But enough history – this is not music to enjoy but music to feel. And what a feeling it is.
It impresses you from the start, Benny Waters leading a langourous “Blues in the Air”. Benny takes the Bechet part, mournful wails and delightful squawks. The ensemble hits hard, and wait for Benny’s sweet slide at the end. We now go to the ‘Thirties, and an explosion called “After You’ve Gone”. Marcel Attenoux has the clarinet tone in his soprano, and even at this pace he sounds unhurried. Andre Persiany owns the keys with a great blend: part stride, part boogie, all swing. And in comes George Daly. With full sustain and dancing hands, He is Lionel Hampton, and that’s no exaggeration. I hear this and feel good; what more can you ask?
Next up is “Tommy’s Blues”, led by the storied Mezz Mezzrow. He’s often criticized for sloppy tone, but you won’t find it here. In a 1960 concert he blows icy notes, with good vibrato and nice trills. Honors as well to pianist Fritz Trippel: his tremoloes come straight from a smoky back room.
An ’89 date in Vancouver brings local singers, with great results. Susie Francis has plenty of sass, bringing rasp to “Who’s Sorry Now” and a wink to “See Your Mamma”. Pianist Peter Williams has “Trouble in Mind”, and how: a resigned voice takes the dire words and runs with them. An amazing performance, and more than a little chilling. And Jim Armstrong puts down his trumpet to duet with Susie. She’s cute like Teresa Brewer; he’s laid back, with old-fashioned hip. It’s a sad song, but they make “Sit Right Down” a happy romp – you’ll be glad they’re lonely together!
Here is the gold. In 1966 Joachim Berendt (author of “The Jazz Book”) asked Dieter to put together a band of old-time expatriates; the Traditionalists toured for years. (Sadly, the original group, with strideman Joe Turner, never recorded.) This edition, from 1969, features Ellington veterans and a tasty “C-Jam Blues”. Cadillac Williams starts his solo with the full theme of “Cheryl”, then gets loud with a nice rumply attack. Herb Flemming (he toured Europe with Sam Wooding in 1929!) has a deep round tone, and a smile as he quotes “William Tell”. Klaus Bader, the lone European, blows mellow alto and then starts boiling, with a surprising squeal at the finish. It burns all the way, and you’ll never want these “Blues” to end.
The homestretch is fun. George Daly returns on “Stardust”, and tender vibes turn to bright dancing. Hampton’s influence is obvious – and it’s wonderful! The “After Hours” quote at the end is perfect. The announcer then says “Mesdames et messieurs: un composition de Fats Waller, “Ain’t Misbehavin’!” Attenoux’ soprano is a joy: high warbles and strident shouts. The piano is a little odd, but Daly brings the susnshine on his tiny bit. Peanuts Holland, a veteran of Charlie Barnet, has his go at “After You’ve Gone”, a thick tone that grabs you. Two minutes of brass sass, and then he grows quiet, with a churchy ending that steals the show. And Benny is back, wailing high on “I’ve Found a New Baby”. Peter Vogt has a nice trumpet, and Blakey student Rolf Schroers has a big rumble of a solo, Benny walking behind him. It ends to son, like the album itself. The crowd wants more, and as for me – I can’t wait for Volume Two!