Kattin’ it at the Brooklands

Sunday 9th April marked my second visit to the Chicago Swing Katz gig at the Brooklands in Meole Brace, the details of the place can be found in my last gig report and they haven’t really changed that much, only a different guest ale I think. Details of the band can be found at
http://www.chicagoswingkatz.co.uk.

I arrived just in time for the opening with only a few minutes to spare due to an overrun at work and I found myself a nice seat at the now technicoloured tables and settled in for a good nights jazz. In contrast to the previous gig, the programme for this gig was chosen by Trumpet player Peter Ainge and the gig opened up with “I’ve Found A New Baby” which was a staple tune of his previous Heart of England Jazz Band and is a cracking tune as well. The next number took the band back in time long before the time that jazz was born in the bottom of a Beer barrel in a bar in New Orleans with a composition by 19th century scribe Stephen Foster, no it wasn’t “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” or that Moustache song feature in A Million Ways to Die in the West or “Oh Susannah”. No it was one of those numbers which over the years has ended up be referred to by two titles, so depending on your preference it was “Swanee River”/”The Old Folks at Home” (delete as applicable), a number which despite it predating the Jazz era, still has plenty of Jazz mileage having been covered by alumni such as Louis Armstrong, Kenny Ball and in a more rocked up tempo Ray Charles and later Hugh Laurie, this arrangement was somewhere between Kenny Ball and Louis Armstrong. Ainge lent his vocal talents to the next number which was the Louis Jordon number “Choo-Choo Ch-Boogie” and he swung it big time, it reminded me of the arrangement the late John Burnett used to perform at the Harp if he thought the audience was about to nod off… I wonder if that actually happened.

Derek Harrison took over the microphone to introduce the next number and he bought up the subject of it being the anniversary of the voyage of the Titanic (and yup he made that joke about the swimming pools) and how once of the officers had left leaving his partner expecting, of course he went down with the ship and because the way the laws worked back then. because he wasn’t married to his partner she didn’t receive any pension benefits and to add insult to injury, the company charged the guy’s father the cost of his uniform… ah yes those must be those good old days Farage is longing for. After a bit of a build up explaining that it was a number played by the band on the ship it transpired it was to be “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, another well worn staple of the Dixieland genre a fact commented on in a recording of a vocal duet by Bing Crosby and Al Jonson. Bit of trivia: Bandleader Harry Roy and drummer Ray Ellington (of later Goon Show fame) did a sort of sequel number called “Alexander’s Gone and Got A Swing Band Now”. Next up was a Sidney Bechet number which was unfamiliar to me called “Bechet Fantasy” and it was quite a nice little tune. Next up was a tune with a title called “Give Me Your Telephone Number” which is request I often made to people of the opposite sex, do they give me their numbers? No, if I am lucky a polite smile and if unlucky a swift knee to the happysacks. The band went into Ellington territory next with the ever popular composition “Mood Indigo” and they wisely opted not to go for the fifteen minute concert arrangement as charming as his vocals are, I doubt Pete Ainge would relish trying to impersonate Pavarotti to achieve the operatic vocal refrain. The set closed, being a Sunday, with a spiritual number called “Precious Lord”.

Set two opened up with a tune called “Crazy Rhythm”, a tune which I first heard on a cheap British Jazz compilation from HMV’s own budget ranged Jazz Label circa 2000, that version was played by the Joe Daniels Jazz Band and was a clarinet feature. Later on I heard the tune on a 1960s Benny Carter album called “Further Definition” on the Impulse! label and was a recreation of the charts Carter used in 1935 and both versions featured the godfather of the tenor sax in Jazz, Coleman Hawkins. The arrangement the Swing Katz performed was much more akin to the Carter/Hawkins arrangement as opposed to the Joe Daniels version and was all the more successful for it. I have no idea what I have scrawled in my notes as next number but I am going to hazard a guess that it was “If I Had You”. The front line then disbanded to give the rhythm section the limelight and the number was a little played number these days called “Undecided”, once reassembled the band performed “White Cliffs of Dover” as a homage Vera Lynn reaching her centenary (and becoming the oldest person to have an album in the British Top 10), Derek Harrison recanted a story about having to explain one of the songs lyrics to a class of school children, his explanation was different to the one I had been bought to believe (I was told the lyric was in reference to sleeping in the Anderson), both explanations do make sense. The next number I didn’t catch the name of and I believe it was the first time some of the band members had played it, I recognised it but can’t put my finger on what it is called, my first thought was “Out of this World” then I thought perhaps “Tangerine” but I don’t think either are correct, if the band are reading please fill me in. Next up was “Goin’ Home”, not the tune appropriated as the Largo for the New World Symphony but a trad jazz standard frequently performed by the late Ken Colyer who in many ways started the Revivalist movement in the UK and from what I have read and learnt about him, he seems a like he was the 1950s UK version of Wynton Marsalis with his very particular view on what Jazz is.

The evening closed with a number Jeff Matthews introduced as “Get On Out and Get on Home” but I am not sure if that was serious or if he was being humorous and finally the band’s signature tune “Bourbon Street Parade” closed the night.

Another good night and it seems that the band is introducing an earlier start time from next month and starting at 8pm as opposed to 8:30. This won’t be a problem for me this month as I have that weekend booked off but it may present a minor issue next time as I might end up missing the first set unless my work time changes on a Sunday, still half a loaf will be better then no bread.

And Finally

There are three men in a boat with four cigarettes, they have no matches. How do they smoke?

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