Sunday 28t October was the end day of a week’s holiday for me and is my want I decided to mark it by attending the Jazz Club 90 session on that day’s Lunchtime, the band on was a band who were relatively new to the Club (their second time there I believe) and completely new to me. I arrived in plenty of time and found myself a nice and comfortable position in which I could see the band, now my notes for the gig don’t include the band line up as I intended to pick them up from the Band’s website www.washingtonwhirligig.co.uk but it appears to be down at the moment so I have taken the band personnel from a video of the band’s previous gig at the Club and my not accurately reflect the band who performed.
The band were
Dave Hepworth: leader, Tenor Sax/Clarinet
Will Robinson: Trumpet/Flugelhorn/Vocals (insert Lost in Space joke here)
Andy Bramell: Guitar/Banjo/Vocals
Liz Hopwell: Bass/Vocals
Rob Cotterell: Drums
The band kicked off with a rather unusual number which doesn’t seemed to be played very often and was called “Hindustan”, the only time I have heard this number was on the Dixieland/Swing album Fancy Meeting You Here, a duet album by Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby, so it suggested to me that the band was going to be slightly different. Unlike the recording on the Bing Crosby LP this performance of the song was strictly instrumental, now I did wonder if that album was a favourite of the band’s as their third number also feature on Fancy Meeting You Here and was the standard “Slow Boat to China” and decided to compare the set lists with song list on the album once I got home but never did. Bridging these two number was the New Orleans standard “That Da-da Strain” prompting one member of the band to ponder “what exactly is a Da-da and how did he strain it?” result in much laughter from the audience…. ok a few titters… fine, a few groans. The band ventured into Ellington territory with the cheekily rhythmed “Just Squeeze Me” (not to be confused with the Fats Waller composition “Squeeze Me”) and this was followed by a wonderfully bonkers number called “Nagasaki” which has a chorus line which goes ‘back in Nagasaki where the fellas chew tobaccy and the women do the waggy-woo’, erm quite. Now before anyone thinks the song alludes to the nuclear bomb dropped on the city you are quite wrong, the song comes from at least 1934 as a I have a 1934 recording of the song by British Jazz legend Nat Gonella. While the song was played with a fast rhythm, it was nowhere near as fast as the version played by Nat Gonella and the Georgians meaning the chorus line was far more intelligible. The band ventured back into Ellington territory with Johnny Hodges own composition with the self referring title of “The Jeep is Jumping”, a title which again is not to be mixed up a Fats Waller composition with a similar name… I’ll let you dear reader figure out which one this time.
It was time for a slight change of pace here as bassist Liz Hopwell took to the mic and lead the rhythm section into a slow ballad called “Gypsy without a Song”, a number I was not familiar with but made me think of the Water Gypsies at the past two years Jazz festivals at Upton upon Severn. The first set ended with a Dixieland standard written by Louis Armstrong’s wife Lil’Hardin entitled “Dippermouth Blues”, Dippermouth being on of Armstrong’s many nicknames.
Here is a video of the band performing “Slow Boat to China” at their debut appearance at Jazz Club 90 back in March:
The second set opened with another Ellington associated piece Steveadore Stomp and followed by two more Jazz standards, “Just a Little While to Stay Here” which is popular with Dixieland bands, and Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” which has an interesting chord progression making it popular with bebop players. Indeed, Lester Young’s composition “Lester Leaps In” is based on the chord progression and is a popular call in Jam sessions and extended solo features for sax players. Now after all of those almost-Fats Waller numbers the band’s next performance was finally a Fats Waller piece, a rare piece entitled “Gone” which I believe was never recorded in a professional studio for record by Fats Waller but had been recorded on a few radio air-shots. The next number, Wolverine Blues, went back to the early days of Jazz and came from the pen of Jelly Roll Morton way back in 1923 and provided the inspiration for the name of the band in which Bix Beiderbecke started to come to prominence in. This was followed by another change in pace with two numbers associated with the Salsa based “Sway!” which is a very well known song having been covered by many artists including Dean Marten, Michael Bublé and the Pussycat Dolls, and Sonny Rollin’ Calypso based composition “St. Thomas”. The gig closed with an unusual number called “Down in Honky Tonk Town”. Overall, the band played predominately in the Chicagoan style but offered enough variations to gig the gig multi-textured and interesting, I hope I get the opportunity to see them again.
Washington Whirligig returned to Jazz Club 90 on Sunday 13th January 2019.
Jazz Club 90 is hosted at Albrighton Sports and Social Club 90.
Admission price is £6.00 on the door
Gigs run from 1pm until 3pm. Fresh Rolls are available at £1.50
There is a raffle and a football card as well, proceeds of which help fund the jazz.
Details of gigs and contact information for Jazz Club 90 can be found at the Jazz Club 90 website.
This blog site is in no way affiliated with Jazz Club 90 and all opinions on the post are my own and do no reflect the views of those who run and organise Jazz Club 90.