In a world that has seen Robbie Williams reach the top of the UK charts with Swing When You're Winning
the crème de la crème of UK jazz has decided to give him a run for his money with British Jazz Legends: Together
. Although the combined ages of John Dankworth, George Melly, Humphrey Lyttleton, Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, John Chilton and Don Lusher extend beyond 500 years, none have lost their acute enjoyment and fulfilment from the music played. Their shared respect, love of jazz and finely-honed professionalism make British Jazz Legends: Together
a truly unique sound.
Acker Bilk, John Dankworth and Humphrey Lyttelton, the three main protagonists on British Jazz Legends--Together
, may have had a combined age of 225 at the time of the sessions (July 2001) but the spirit and enthusiasm on display make that number hard to believe. Also involved were Don Lusher, George Melly, John Chilton and Kenny Ball and the permutations of personnel organised by producer Gordon Lorenz ensure plenty of variety. For example, on the first couple of tracks Bilk's clarinet can be heard in duet with both Lyttelton's trumpet and Dankworth's alto while Lusher shines on solo trombone. Melly comes next for the first of his four numbers which all have the benefit of Chilton's expert contributions. Later we hear Ball's regular band reprising "The Green Leaves Of Summer" as well as two originals from Humph's regular ensemble and two charming vocals by Acker. A quartet version of "Body And Soul" features Dankworth but he also fits in surprisingly well with the other stars in unfamiliar territory. Most of the bandleaders' regular rhythm sections participate at different times and all provide appropriate support. Although the historical significance of these meetings is notable, the joyful approach to the music makes its own striking impact. --Graham Colombe