Wilbur DeParis - "DeParis in Europe"
Jazzreview.com - Internet Publication
Here's something that DeParis fans may not have heard. The content of
this new issue was recorded in 1960 when the DeParis band was on a European
tour. Sadly, Omer Simeon, the band's clarinetist of many years, had passed
away in late 1959. He is replaced by Garvin Bushell, a big band musician
who spent years with Fletcher Henderson and Chick Webb. As good as he
is, Bushell can't quite fill the shoes of the giant Simeon. In essence,
this is the same band that appeared on the celebrated 1957 tour of Africa.
The New Orleans born drummer, Wilbert Kirk and pianist Sonny White both
joined Wilbur DeParis in the mid 1950s and know the book perfectly. The
DeParis outfit usually worked with a single trumpet played by Wilbur's
younger brother Sidney. Nobody really knows why Doc Cheatham was added
for the 1960 tour but few will complain. Sidney and Doc show their stuff
on That's a Plenty and Found a New Baby . You'll hear the odd harmonica
solo by drummer Wilbert Kirk on several numbers although this reviewer
could survive nicely without them. Kirk went on to perform with a family
harmonica group in later years.
The "meat & potatoes" on this CD are provided by the DeParis
brothers themselves. Wilbur was one of the most exciting players of his
era and a faultless technician. Sidney's trumpet is as energetic as ever
and his muted solos are extraordinary. Both are at their best on High
Society and it's a tune the band has played a thousand times. Battle Hymn
is another winner.
It's nice to hear bassist Hayes Alvis again. Alvis had to be one of the
most interesting individuals in jazz history. He had done it all! Born
in 1907, he worked with Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington,
Earl Hines, Jimmy Noone, and Benny Carter. Hayes Alvis played bass, tuba
and drums but it wasn't enough for him. He operated a successful interior
decorating firm, was a Red Cross volunteer and a musicians' union rep
for Local 802. The bassist studied dentistry and had a pilot's license.
Hayes Alvis died in 1972. Although not essential DeParis, this is a most
- Richard Bourcier
King Jazz Review - England
In his liner notes Big Bill Bissonnette makes the comparison that there
is no comparison - but that there are great differences between this group,
and the 50s De Paris bands - that's for the connoisseurs. As I know little
about the jazz artists in question, not having one recording of them,
past and present in my music collection, my views on this "DeParis
in Europe" CD will come with an open mind.
However, in not going for the Commodore (Hamburg) Classics Label (a continuation
of the USA label) recording - 6.24296 AG - De Paris Brothers/Edmond Hall
Sextet - Jimmy Ryan's and the Uptown Café Society on - Coquette;
I've Found A New Baby etc - that included Clyde Hart, Emmett Berry, Vic
Dickenson, Eddie Heywood and others was a missed opportunity in this regard.
After a nice trombone prefatorily statement on the opening number I've
Found approx 450 seconds, it moves along at breakneck speed, highlighting
growls and an A to Z of trumpet nuances, which the concert goers warmed
to, as judged from their great applause to it, indeed, as with the rest
throughout the album. Unlike several of the opposing jazz genre, floundering
catch-up, in such circumstances, this rhythm section are of fine fettle
in support of the "Tour de Force" De Paris front liners, and
are therefore a noticeable asset particularly so in the up tempo numbers
That's A Plenty within the group.
Recorded on 9 June 1960 at the Antibes, Cote D'Azure, France, on the Mediterranean
Sea, these tracks were taken from a video of the concert.
In the main, the tracks here have the "Hall of Fame" Jelly Roll
Morton; Bix Beiderbecke mark enveloped on them. Perhaps not surprisingly,
this De Paris group has put a complete personal stamp of its very own
on Royal Garden Blues that said, one might agree that it does not compare
with the Bix of 1927 version.
I have sympathy with the harmonica on Minorca, but certainly not, on Beale
Street Blues, where it clashes with a fine muted trumpet break, nor on
the other tune Sister Kate in which it is featured, but is appreciated
by the French audience, obviously charmed by the trombone of Wilbur. For
a US jazz group touring Europe, it's natural for it to be seen showing
allegiance to their country, and, I expect that that is where the Battle
Hymn comes in - Fifes & Drums inspired to John Brown's body and all.
To many, High Society will be the highlight of this album, the Garvin
Bushell embouchure holding out to perfection, trill inclusive, but for
me, The Pearls which doubtless is featuring most, pianist Sonny White,
has something special about it, orchestrated, arranged or simply a great
performance out of the professionalism of the group - whatever, it's dreamland
to be sure.
- Ian King
Boxell's Jazz Website
The earlier Jazz Crusade CD of Wilbur's that I reviewed came from when
he was at his zenith, this one is from near his nadir. The sleeve notes
indicate that the tracks are from 09 June 1960 and were recorded in Antibes,
I found the band to be a disappointment and nowhere near the quality of
the 50s incarnation I enjoyed on the other CD. In fact only Wilbur on
trombone and Sidney de Paris on trumpet remain of the earlier band. Sid
is backed up by Doc Cheatham on second trumpet(I have a review of one
of Doc's last CDs when he was in his 90s elsewhere). Not being an expert
in either of these gentlemen it is impossible for me to determine who
is playing the better breaks.
Are there good tunes? Well yes, though all bar, 'The Pearls', are very
much jazz standards recorded by almost every other jazz band around. Don't
let the first track, 'I've Found A New Baby', with its frenic pace, put
you off., 'Beale Street Blues' is a fine number, with good ensemble and
solo breaks and 'Pearls', although orchestrated, is well worth listening
One of the off putting things on the CD is the inclusion of non-standard
traditional jazz instruments. 'Minorca', for instance, has both mouth
organ and bassoon on it! On 'That's A Plenty' the drummer sounds as if
he is using tin cans, but I wouldn't put money on it. The sleeve notes
put the inclusion of these 'novelty' items down to de Paris wanting to
appear 'sophisticated' as a counter to declining interest in traditional
jazz. This could be true as a similar trend appeared in Britain in the
mid to late 60s. All that happened of course was that traditional jazz
fans stopped listening and modernists said it wasn't way out enough and
the bands that followed the trend failed to meet any market.
Should you buy the CD? Well it depends on whether you are a jazz historian,
in which case you must; or a traditional jazz lover, in which case don't.
My copy? Well I have a mate who has a lot of Wilbur de Paris and I know
just what to give him for a present this Christmas!
- Geoff Boxell
JazzGazzette.com - Internet Publication
Big Bill Bissonnette is one of the few people I know who has the courage
to be critical in the liner notes of a CD he produced himself. One other
one I can think of is George Buck but only in the case a New Orleans recording
is too primitive for his taste. I usually agree with Bill
on a lot of things, but regarding this CD I dont. He says, for instance,
that the DeParis band we hear here is in noticeable decline. One of the
reasons, he says, is that Garvin Bushell replaced Omer Simeon, who died
in September 1959, and that Garvin will forever stand in the shade of
the giant Simeon. Well, I agree that Bushell is no Simeon, but he was
a damn good clarinet player. Lets not forget he was chosen by Bunk
Johnson for the last band Bunk led and with which he recorded for the
last time. I particularly admire his low register work in Minorca
and in the beginning of his solo on High Society. What a marvellous
Talking about Minorca, Bill also has trouble with drummer
Wilbert Kirk playing the harmonica on some tracks. I think that the sound
of the harmonica adds a special colour to numbers like Minorca,
one of Wilburs island compositions. Bill also asks what
Bushell is doing blowing the bassoon at the end of Minorca
while Im convinced that this was a deliberate and successful little
piece of hokum. One needs only to look at the video, of which this CD
is the soundtrack, to know that. I rest my case!
I admire Bill for his honesty about his own product, but I think honestly
that this DeParis CD is no better or worse than the four others on Jazz
Crusade (JCCD-3009-3032-3061-3068). To find out how I look at the DeParis
band, please turn to our very first issue which is still on line, where
I reviewed JCCD-3061. In a period when jazz fans were either mouldy
figgs or boppers a lot of musicians hitherto active
in the big or small swing bands, turned to a more traditional style to
make a living. The DeParis band was one of the most successful, because
most of its members had their roots in the old style.
Being used to the relaxed tempos of real New Orleans bands, I have my
own reservations about the race horse tempos on some tracks (Ive
Found A New Baby, Thats A Plenty), but, according
to the tremendous applause we can hear, the audience loved it! If you
look for that wonderful New Orleans relaxation, youll have to look
elsewhere. The music of the DeParis band was red hot jazz and a far cry
from the sterile dixieland that some people called it. Its remarkable
that a lot of New Orleans fans, who hate dixieland most of the time, have
a soft spot for the DeParis band. On a good day I can even share part
of the excitement the French public was showing. Of course I prefer the
more relaxed items, like the slower than usual version of Mortons
The Pearls, Beale Street Blues and most of all
Sister Kate (heres that harmonica again and I love it!).
The combination of freewheeling solos in a frame work of tight arrangements
was in a way a continuation of what Jelly had been doing three decades
earlier. You can say what you want, but Wilbur DeParis certainly was an
original, making that kind of music at that time!
Its interesting to catch Doc Cheatham in this stage of his very
long career. Doc was what we call a late bloomer as a soloist. Ha always
had been a first class lead trumpet and section man, but it was only later
in his career that his abilities as a soloist developed and that he became
the wonderful player he was at the end of his life. Doc was the first
to admit that. When we listen to his few solo spots here, he was already
well under way!
On the first track three French guests were added to the band. The solo
order is as follows: Claude Luter (clt), Pierre Derveaux (tpt), Jean-Louis
Durand (tbn), Doc Cheatham (tpt), Garvin Bushell (clt), Sidney DeParis
(tpt) and Wilbur DeParis (tbn). On Minorca Sidney plays the
solo after the glorious low register intro. Doc is responsible for the
fine muted solo after Wilburs solo, who uses his valve trombone
here. Sidney plays a duet with Wilbert Kirk on the (big) harmonica on
the relaxed Beale Street Blues. On High Society
Doc plays the only trumpet solo. All the other trumpet solos are by Sidney,
who uses his mutes and metal hat to great effect. The flute we hear briefly
at the beginning and at the end of Battle Hymn Of The Republic
is played by Bushell. All this information is based on looking (with great
pleasure!) at the video again. It is obvious that all the members of the
band had a great time at this concert.
The sound quality is amazingly fine for a live recording at that time.
After years of missing the recordings by this fine band, we now have five
CDs on Jazz Crusade and 6 CDs on Collectables, grouping all their recordings
for Atlantic. If you like the band as well as I do, you could do worse
than adding this one to your collection.
- Marcel Joly
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