Warning: This is a seriously hot jazz CD unsuitable for those of a nervous disposition. In fact it is hard to imagine anyone not enjoying this charming evocation of the "Jazz Age". From Low Down Blues to Sentimental Ballads via Novelty Songs and Rags the album covers a broad spectrum of pre-war musical exotica, as well as a couple of rather good original compositions.
Thomas "Spats" Langham is one of Britain's most authentic purveyors of vintage-style jazz today and deserves his slightly immodest title of "Hottest Man in Town". His gymnastic voice is influenced by Bing Crosby, Cliff Edwards and The Ink Spots, swooping majestically over improbable ranges of pitch on "Just Like a Melody", and scatting outrageously on the title track like a syncopated machine-gun. His Eddie Lang-influenced guitar provides intense and flexible propulsion, his banjo swings rakishly and the ukulele tracks jog along with period charm.
On this CD he has gathered a pool of professional musicians similarly afflicted with love of the Old Jazz and awesomely accomplished in its playing. Keith Nichols' piano bubbles away happily while Norman Field provides effortlessly sculpted clarinet and saxophone solos like a musical art-deco impressionist painter. Debbie Arthurs sings two numbers with light, focused delivery reminiscent of Annette Hanshaw and provides period percussion with great command and sensitivity - although there is a tendency for some of the playing to sound rushed in the overall band context. Other drawbacks include the mis-pitching of vocals on the otherwise delightful "Dreamers Holiday", one or two slightly cluttered ensemble passages, and the odd stilted solo.
But overall this is a highly professional and varied CD - a re-energising of a golden musical age rather than a slavish reproduction. It would make an excellent introduction for anyone not familiar with the colourful, saw-dust and oyster-shell world of pre-war jazz - its elegant charms, rough edges and deep oceans of musical passion.