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Wonderful recording of a piece of jazz history!
on 13 May 2014
This recently released CD couples two albums from 1961 recorded live at Ronnie Scott's Club over three evenings. Why was this a piece of history? The answer is simple; it features an American! Not unusual now, but at that time there was a mutual ban on the exchange of musicians between here and the USA. Ronnie Scott moved "heaven and earth" and an appearance by Zoot Sims was arranged in Britain. That is Zoot Sims singular, no other Americans! He appeared at Ronnie's accompanied by the "house band". British trios were considered to lag behind the Americans, but not at Ronnie's. The house trio was lead by a young Stan Tracey (recently deceased). We all know that Stan became the elder statesman of British (indeed World) jazz and is solely missed. He plays superbly on this album, accompanied by Kenny Napper (b) and Jackie Dougan (d).
On this CD the trio accompany Zoot on six of the eleven tracks (all recorded live at the night club). The highlight for me remains the opening track, 13 minutes of "Love For Sale". I say remains for I bought one of the original releases on vinyl over fifty years ago (and stupidly sold it twenty years ago when so many of us changed from vinyl to tape and CD). I've been awaiting this release on CD for over twenty years.
Every one of these quartet recordings are absolutely brilliant in every respect. We have a young American (36 yrs) at the top of his illustrious career and three Brits showing just how good our best musicians were. An equal to many Americans whom we could only hear on record.
Because Zoot didn't play continuously, we are fortunate to have tracks from the two support bands, one of which was the Ronnie Scott- Jimmy Deuchar quintet, who get two tracks (both excellent, especially "The Haunted Jazz Club"), and Zoot joins them on a third (Desperation).
The remaining two tracks feature the wonderful West Indian immigrant, Harold McNair, who brought much skill and enjoyment to the London jazz scene of that period.( I remember him very well). HMc played both alto and flute, and we have a track featuring each. He is accompanied by Terry Shannon (p), Jeff Clyne (b) and master drummer Phil Seaman.
To summarise we have nearly 80 minutes of superb jazz from 1961 (although it is as fresh today as it was then) featuring the first American to play Ronnie Scott's Club, plus Ronnie's great quintet, and McNair's quartet. All recordings a piece of history, but this is an important time in British Jazz.
There is a very informative booklet written by Simon Spillett to accompany this CD.
History apart, a marvellous CD fully deserving six stars! Buy it quickly, deprive yourself no longer.