Due to the weather not being inclement on 8th June I found myself having Sunday afternoon off and I made my way over to Jazz Club 90 in Albrighton to see the second set of the Sunday Lunchtime Jazz session, the band of the day was the excellent JB’s Jazz and Blues Band, a fairly frequent, popular and good band to play the stage of Jazz Club 90. I arrived just before the end of the first set and was greeted by a rendition of I’m Confessin’ (that I Love You) which reflected the weather very much so. The melody was lead by the reeds man who on this occasion was playing the Soprano and accompanied by Guitarist Phil Probert for a vocal refrain, the love theme continued for the next number with the classic standard “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and this number again featured a vocal refrain, however on this occasion the honours were done by the saxman. The band went strictly instrumental for the last number which was that lovely melody “Bueno Sera” or as Acker Bilk liked to refer it “Boney Sarah”. The band and crowd split up for the break and purchased a raffle ticket and got myself a Vimto from the bar, no that isn’t a metaphor for beer- I had work later in the evening so lunchtime beer was a big no-no. I caught up with a small amount of gossip from the various regulars as I hadn’t been to the club since February, doesn’t seem I have missed a lot in the way of gossip. The football card and raffle were drawn and as I expected I won diddly squat, though had I won the Football Card I would be very surprised as I hadn’t entered it.
The second set began with a bit of piano from JB himself and I was fairly certain I recognised the intro and sure enough the band launch into a rallying version of “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be (Times-A-Wastin)” which is often erroneously credited to Duke Ellington but is in fact a composition of Mercer Ellington, who was Duke Ellington’s son. The reedsman had switched to Tenor sax for this number and was (re)introduced after the number, his name was Roger Mannering and was standing in for the band’s usual sax player who had been unable to attend the gig for reasons unknown to me. Next up was a number called “Roll with Baby” which is a number I don’t really know but it swung pretty well and kept everyone’s feet tapping… even the guy with two peg-legs which was… interesting.*
Mannering switched from Tenor back to Soprano Sax for the next number which was “Sweet Sue, Just You”, a number which has been covered from Fats Waller and multiple trad and Dixie bands, and perhaps most surprisingly Miles Davis as part of a jazz series by critic Ralph Gleason (the recording by Miles is available on CD as a bonus track on some issues of the Miles Davis album Round About Midnight). This was a smaller unit affair with several band members sitting out and the main feature was an extended bass solo in the bridge. Mannering switched back to his Tenor and JB gave a lengthy monologue about the sunny weather and how the next number was chosen to take the audience on a mental journey away from Albrighton and somewhere we’d rather be (apparently), no it wasn’t “I Do Like to Be Besides the Seaside” but rather the most famous Charles Trenet number “La Mer” with its English title and lyrics: Beyond the Sea, the vocals were provided by the drummer. The band went into whimsical Nat King Cole territory for the next number which was “Straighten Up and Fly Right” and to add more contrast this was followed by the Dixieland favourite “Doctor Jazz”. The pianist took on the duty of crooner for the next number which was the beauty bad luck ballad “Everything Happens to Me” although he did miss out the opening verse of the song. After that sobering level of sentiment the drummer upped the beat and transported us to the jungle to meet the King of the Swingers with “I Wanna Be Like You”-yes, that is King Louis’ song in Disney’s The Jungle Book.
Next up was a number I was not familiar with at all and was called “Tanqueray”, which as far as I know it brand of strong gin, so not totally out of place for Jazz musicians I guess. This was followed by one of those numbers which while being cheerful and upbeat, manages to still be slightly creepy, the song of course was “Mr Sandman”, I am fairly certain it wasn’t played because I was in the audience… or maybe it was.
The gig ended with a song called “Bye Bye Paris” which made me wonder if Paris is the capital city with the most songs named after it, this number I believe was composed by Cole Porter who also wrote “I Love Paris”. After much cheer and applause, the band returned for a encore and performed a rousing version of “Jump, Jive and Wail”.
All in all a very good and unexpected afternoon off Jazz, hopefully I will be able to attend the club in the not so distant future.
*There wasn’t really a man with two peg legs. It was a woman with three….