JJ 11/62: London Jazz Scene – The ’Forties

Sixty years ago Steve Voce found Decca's compilation stylistically disordered but with good jazz from Grappelly, Shearing, Randall and others. First published in Jazz Journal November 1962

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An odd hotch-potch of British jazz which in no way matches its predecessor “The ’Thirties” (Lew Stone and Am­brose). There are too many changes of idiom for comfort, and the titles could have been arranged in better groups.

The main thing about the Squadronaires was George Chisholm, who solos with great accomplishment on every track. Running him close is his buddy, Tommy McQuater, while Cliff Townshend plays some fair clarinet. The arrangements are in the Bob Crosby mold, although the Chisholm charts show some originality. “Ring Dem Bells” escapes from the Bobcats influence and is the best of the five tracks, moving along nicely and with a well-disciplined sound. There is an excellent alto chase between Townshend and Monty Levy which is immediately topped by a better Chisholm solo.

The Shearing tracks are perhaps the most historically significant on the disc, proving that George was a great pianist before he left this country. “Beat” sounds dated and is a bit coy for boogie.

The Grappelly tracks are exquisite, and for this Shearing can take some credit. Grappelly is a masterful violinist with a fine tone – a better tone than any other violinist I can think of in the jazz field.

The Jazz Club tracks will be well known to most of you. At the time they represented the best jazz over here, and have worn well. There are particularly good contributions from Randall, Dill Jones, Freddy Gardner, Townshend and Turner.

Shearing crops up again on the Frank Weir track, which has the best jazz on the album. Weir at this time was a beautiful clarinettist, and he swings along in fine style, well supported by the rest of the group.

Excellent value for the money, the only complaint being the positioning of titles. Grappelly’s “Body And Soul” hardly goes well with “That’s A-Plenty”.

Discography
(a) South Rampart Street Parade; (b) These Foolish Things; (c) Barefoot Blues; (d) Body And Soul; (a) That’s A-Plenty; (b) Beat Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar; (a) High Society (19 min) – (a) Anchors Aweigh; (e) Black And Blue; (f) Henderson Stomp; (d) After You’ve Gone; (g) Clarinet Blues; (h) I Only Have Eyes For You; (a) Ring Dem Bells (18 min)
(a) The Squadronaires: Personnel from the following: Tommy McQuater, Archie Craig, Clin­ton French, jimmy Watson (tpts); George Chis­holm, Eric Breeze (tbns); Tommy Bradbury, Andy McDevitt, Harry Lewis, Jimmy Durrant, Cliff Townshend, Monty Levy (reeds); Ronnie Aldrich (p); Syd Colin (g); Arthur Maden (bs); Jock Cummings (d).
(b) George Shearing (p).
(c) Freddy Randall (tpt); Bruce Turner (clt); Freddy Gardner (bari); Geoff Love (tbn); Dill Jones (p); Vic Lewis (g); Hank Hobson (bs); Max Abrams (d).
(d) Stephane Grappelly And His Musicians: Grappelly (vln); George Shearing (p); Reg Conrow (vbs); Jack Llewellyn (g); Hank Hobson (b); Al Philcock (d).
(e) As (c) except Cliff Townshend (clt); re­places Turner and Laurie Gold (ten) replaces Gardner.
(f) Frank Weir’s Astor Club Seven: Weir (clt); Alan Franks (tpt); Derek Hawkins, Freddie Ballerini, Walter Combie (reeds); George Shearing (p); Lou Nussbaum (bs); Norman Burns (d).
(g) Freddy Gardner, Cliff Townshend, Bruce Turner (clts); Dill Jones (p): Vic Lewis (g); Hank Hobson (bs); Max Abrams (d).
(Decca Ace Of Clubs ACL 1121 12inLP 21s. 6d.)