At the Jazz Band Ball

Matt Palmer’s Rhythmic Reeds with Christine Tyrrel 8/5/16
Matt Palmer: Reeds
George Huxley: Reeds
Nick Ward: Skins
Mark Challoner: Drums
Brian Lawrence: String Bass
Christine Tyrrel vocals

It has been a while since I have been able to attend two sessions in a row and this has only occured due to Bank Holiday Monday giving me a day off in lieu. Amusingly enough it was just myself returning as Matt Palmer was once again fronting the band (and to make things even Twilight Zone, drummer Nick Ward is back again for the next gig). I recognised most of the players from other bands, Challoner for example fronts the Wabash Jazz Quartet and was one of a few gigs I bought one of my dogs too (in fact at one point Challoner christened one number the vicious Dog Blues hehe), but this is the first time they have assembled as a group at Jazz Club 90. Having arrived in plenty of time I was able to get a good seat and catch the band introductions, so without further a do the band began. The first number was a number called “Weary Blues” and featured both Palmer and Huxley on Clarinet, now for a Dixieland/Swing set up it is unusual for a quintet to be fronted by two reed players as opposed to reeds and trumpet/cornet. Come to think of it, off the top of my head I only think of one album with only two reeds on the frontline and is Cannonball Adderlay Quintet in Chicago which is essentially the Miles Davis Sextet without Miles Davis. The second number was a Fats Waller/Andy Razaf composition called “Black & Blue”, now Matt Palmer introduced this as being written as a protest song but a BBC Radio 2 documentary on Fats Waller declared it was written as a humorous interlude for an underring Cabaret for the mob. I wonder which is correct. This feature had Huxley switch to Soprano Sax while Palmer began on Clarinet but switched to Sop Sax towards the end of the number. The reverse happened on the next number which was a waltz entitled Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland, which the recently arrived Mike Yorke mistook for Indiana. After three instrumental numbers it was time welcome the gigs guest singer Christine Tyrrel to the stage for a few numbers, she was a wonderful gospel choir voice but I think it was poorly served by the choice of number which was My Mother’s Eyes. This song is best known to British audiences as it was a minor hit for Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen (or from a Tommy Cooper skit with a vents doll) and it doesn’t lead itself to that style of vocal despite Tyrrel’s evident abilty. This was corrected with the following number which was a spiritual called In the Garden which Palmer made a right pig’s ear of introducing. The set closed with an instrumental number called “Coffee Grinder” which is a Sidney Bechet composition and wss played with both reedsmen back on the Clarinet.

After a longer than usual break which was extended to include the raffle and football card the band returned to the stage with a number called “The Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam” and had both Matt Palmer and George Huxley adding their vocal tones to the air. Palmer switched between Tenor, Alto, and Sop Sax and Clarinet throughout the number and I couldn’t help but call him a show off (well he did think I was called Steve). The band forayed into Duke Ellington territory next with a Clarinet duet of Creole Love Call, a number which was made distinctive originally due to the wordless vocal improvisations of singer Adeline Hall, fortunately we were spared Matt attempting the same thing. After this we were back in Bechet territory with Huxley doing a Sop Sax take on Petite Fleur, which in 1959 was a big hit for Clarinet player Monty Sunshine.
Here is a video of the first two numbers which marked Christine Tyrrel’s return to the stage (this is footage from the actual gig)

The set came to a close with a Sop sax duet of I’ve Found a New Baby… which Palmer nearly introduced as Everybody Loves my Baby and a return to the stage for Tyrrel for “I Get the Blues When It Rains”. After rightfully deserved applause tyere was an encore of Running Wild, a perfect end to a damn near perfect gig. Such a pity it wasn’t an outside gig as it was such a lovely day.

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