Classical Jazz 2005: Home

Reviewed by Marcel Joly The Jazz Gazette, Belgium

Flamingo

John PettersI have been reviewing several Rose Records CD's in this magazine, and most of the time they contained music belonging to the classic Jazz period or the New Orleans revival.

This one is different. I would call this a "mainstream" CD. Because the word isn't used so much anymore these days, I'd better explain it.

When in the early fifties the war between traditional Jazz and modern Jazz (be-bop) was fought, with fanatics on both sides, a whole group (the largest one!) of Jazz musicians were neglected. They belonged to the swing era and had been playing in big bands and small groups as well. Some of them even switched to either the traditional or the modern style, although they were not quite happy with either of them.

Then some now famous recording sessions put them back on the map. Jazz writer Stanley Dance used the word mainstream first for this music. I'm referring now to the Buck Clayton Jam Sessions on Columbia, the sessions supervised by John Hammond on Vanguard, the sessions recorded for Swingville and Moodsville (two sub-labels of Prestige Records), to name just a few.

As time went on and new styles of Jazz lent elements to the mainstream, the term has come to be used more broadly, though most writers would still exclude the avant-garde Jazz on one side and the traditional Jazz styles (New Orleans, dixieland, Chicago) on the other side.

Today some record labels like Arbors, Nagel-Heyer and Concord Jazz are entirely devoted to mainstream Jazz. This CD reminds me most of all of the excellent Swingville and Moodsville recordings I bought many years ago. Very often they featured one horn with a rhythm section, people like Coleman Hawkins, Arnett Cobb, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Buddy Tate and many others.

Today the tradition is continued, for instance on Concord Jazz, with the many sessions by Scott Hamilton. Just like Hamilton, Trevor Whiting is a young musician inspired mainly by the great mainstream of Jazz. He recorded before with John Petters, sometimes in world famous company like Art Hodes and Wild Bill Davison. In 1997 Trevor and John recorded together an album devoted to the memory of Sidney Bechet (Blame It On The Blues, Rose Records RRCD-1009, still available and highly recommended!) and today Trevor is established in the upper echelons of British reedmen. A two year tenure with Hefty Jazz provided opportunities to work with Scott Hamilton, with whom he found an instant rapport. This is the first CD under his own name. It shows the immense versatility of this fine young musician. He shines on all the instruments he plays here, the clarinet and the (almost) complete saxophone family.

On piano is another young star (25), Nick Dawson (whom we met before on Rose records), who shows a musical maturity far beyond his years. He has excellent timing, great ideas and swings like mad.

I was again amazed by the great versatility of John Petters, who is not only an ace drummer in all traditional Jazz styles, but in this middle of the road Jazz as well. Both bass players too deliver exemplary work.

The repertory is as versatile as the musicians. There are lovely ballads, a swing classic, evergreens, great blues and also some original tunes written by Trevor Whiting (3, 6, 7, 14 and 15).

My personal favourites now. "Jeepers Creepers" (an old Armstrong favourite) has a very original introduction played over stop time.

"Anybody's Blues" is a slow down to earth blues, improvised on the spot (I suppose) with great piano and with Trevor building his solo up to a passionate climax.

"JH" is dedicated to Johnny Hodges and the haunting melody (written by Trevor) displays all the warm sensuality of the great star of the alto sax.

"South To A Warmer Place" (by Loonis McGlohon and Alec Wilder) surely deserved to be brought to the attention of the music lovers again. It has all the warmth the title promises.

The title track ("Flamingo") written by Ted Grouya in 1941 and first recorded by Duke Ellington, has become a favourite with all kind of singers and bands. This version is beautifully romantic with shades of the unforgettable Ben Webster.

If, like me, you love the music of Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges or Scott Hamilton, this CD will give you a lot of listening pleasure. You will discover new gems every time you'll play it!

 

Marcel Joly

 

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