Personnel: Franz Jackson [rd], Leon Scott [tp], Preston Jackson [tb],
Lil Hardin-Armstrong [pn], Ikey Robinson [bn], Bill Oldham [tu], Tommy
Benford [dm],Jeanne Carroll [v]
Bugle Call Rag, I Cant Give You Anything But Love, You Gotta See
Your Mama Every Night, Gin House Blues, Bill Bailey, Just A Closer Walk
with Thee, Jada, Ive Found A New Baby
Barbarin [bdm], Alvin Alcorn, Ernie Cagnolatti [tp], Wendell Eugene, Clement
Tervalon [tb], Louis Cotrell [cl], Danny Barker [bn/v], Freddie Kohlman
[sdm], Jerry Green [sou]
What A Friend We Have In Jesus, Bourbon Street Parade, Eh! La Bas, Bill
Bailey, Fidgety Feet
Rare Cuts - Well Done Vol. 9
Franz Jackson/Onward Brass Band
Just Jazz—British Jazz magazine
Over the years, I have searched out various recording made on some rather obscure Chicago record labels, and luckily have managed to acquire quite a bit of material recorded by the Franz Jackson band.
So I was pleased to receive this CD from Big Bill Bissonnette to review, and it was good to hear that despite changes in personnel from his recordings made in the 1950s early 60s, the band still has its indefatigable sound. One-time King Oliver sideman Bob Schoffner was the trumpeter, but his place has now gone to Leon Scott, but other Oliver, Morton and Armstrong alumni, Lil Hardin Armstrong, Preston Jackson, Ikey Robinson, and Tommy Benford have come into the band, in fact it's quite an 'All Star' band. The leader plays clarinet on most tracks, and is very similar to players such as Cecil Scott and Prince Robinson. Jackson is also an excellent tenor saxophonist, and is, as far as I know, still active in jazz, and is the only Traditional jazz band of note still in the Chicago area.
The eight tracks on the CD were recorded live in 1968 at a^ssion in New York, and are a good example of the band's qualities. In fact, although classified as a Chicago band, their sound is very close to the Preservation Hall band of the 80s/90s, and goes to prove how various influences have affected musicians over the years; perhaps I should be saying that the Preservation Hall band sounded more like the Chicago bands - but that's a contentious issue, not for this review.
There is some great jazz played, although spoilt in some places by a rather uninspiring singer, Jeanne Carroll, who was obviously booked because of her 'commercial' value. Nevertheless, the band's versions of Bugle Call Rag, Ja Do, and I've Found A New Baby are quite rewarding. Despite my reservations about the singer, she does a good version of Gin House Blues, and in places is rather reminiscent of Blanche Thomas.
The final five tracks are from the Onward Brass Band and again recorded in 1968, and could well have been band leader Paul Barbara's last recordings. On these tracks he plays bass drum, leaving the snare drum duties to Freddie Kohlman. The line-up is a bit of a who's who of New Orleans musicians of that particular time. It is also one of the few recordings of a New Orleans-style brass band to include a banjo player. In this case, it is Danny Barker, who also contributes the vocals. The reason for the inclusion of a banjo was probably down to the type of work the band was getting at the time, which included commercial or civic functions, concerts and jazz clubs. Certainly the banjo was not included on parades or at funerals. Despite that, it is an interesting insight into how New Orleans musicians approached their work, and these tracks prove how skilful they were at their art.
Another great selection of tracks in Big Bill's series of 'Rare Tracks - Well Done'.
Jazz Classique—French jazz publication
If you absolutely want to find a common point between these two live sessions of the Connecticut Traditional Jazz Club, it will be the year 1968, in the full “revival” period. If Bill Bissonnette would have wanted to stress the difference between the two aggregations, it's indeed striking.
Franz Jackson, born in 1912 near Chicago, was a member in 1931 of the Cassino Simpson band and he still is among us today! He worked, among others, with Carroll Dickerson, Frankie Jaxon, Reuben Reeves, Jimmie Noone, Fletcher Henderson, Roy Eldridge, Earl Hines, Fats Waller, Pete Brown, Frankie Newton... On his return to Chicago in 1956, he started a long residency with his Original Jass All Stars at the Red Arrow, in Stickney, Illinois. This CD presents the music of this outift, modified, that was recorded « live » in New York. Leon Scott (b. 1904), who took Bob Shoffner's place, was a member of many an orchestra in Chicago, specially of Jimmie Noone's swing band in 1937. He is not in the best form here but he manages to play this dixieland music which is not really his. Franz Jackson has indeed adapted his repertoire and the style of his band to the demand of a public that was discovering the “old music.” In addition, his tours for the U.S.O. in Vietnam needed a music accessible for the average G.I. Hence the presence of Jeanne Carroll, the sexy singer. Jeanne, who is living nowadays in Germany, has the blues, for sure. She interprets two of them in the great traditon of Bessie Smith and a moving “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”.
Franz Jackson is an ace of reeds. He knows every music, every trick. He is formidable on clarinet, and alto, and has a beautiful tone on soprano. Preston Jackson, who replaced Al Wynn, plays relax, in his characteristic trumpet-like style. The infamous Ikey Robinson, who had a long and full career, was also a member of the Caroll Dickerson orchestra in 1934 together with Leon Scott and Preston Jackson ! As his banjo is well recorded it is easy to appreciate his very varied playing. Two regrets : Lil Hardin is not heard enough, although she takes some very dynamic solos, and sometimes Oldham and Tommy Benford makes the rhythmic pulsation heavier, although Benford takes a good solo on “I Found A New Baby.”
With Paul Barbarin's brass band, we return to the real New Orleans music. With these tunes, the collector who already has the eleven titles of the JCCD-3049 (excellent) will have the five missing tunes of this very special brass band. The addition of Danny Barker's banjo, and the use of a string of solos are indeed a kind of curiosity for this type of band. Barker sings and accompanies himself on a slow and charming potpourri (Eh La Bas, Sale Dame, plus a sort of song of the islands) which Don Vappie must have got inspiration from. The general music is superb. The two trumpets are complementary, they exchange the leads without modifying the global sound of the band. Cagnolatti's sound is sharp while Alcorn's is more mellow and his phrasing more legato. The excellent trombonist Wendell Eugene, still active today with Barry Martyn and Chris Burk, blows some acrobatic choruses, not really orthodox in this type of music, but this kind of playing must have influenced a lot of young trombonists of the 60s (Wendell takes the first chorus on “Bill Bailey”, while Tervalon takes the second, in a more rustic style). Louis Cottrell, the only reed in the band, phrases in a very personal manner, with the sound of the great Creole tradition of clarinet players. But what makes the difference with the other few brass bands which have miraculously been recorded it's the incredible beat of the two drummers, two giants, who send the last ensembles of the tunes, specially in “Bourbon Street Parade” and “Fidgety Feet”. This is the home pulsation, the trade mark of the Town. Unique'!
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