JJ 01/64: Ken Colyer – This Is Jazz

Sixty years ago Steve Voce reckoned Colyer's young men were trying to sound as if their playing had been affected by old age. First published in Jazz Journal January 1964


This is the first time I have heard Colyer on records, and the first time I have tried to listen to him with a critical rather than sympathetic ear.

I find little to commend these tracks. The apparent effort put into such an empty idiom makes it seem that the Colyer band is fighting its way out of a paper bag. With respect, I would suggest that this is the kind of music that one grows out of in early years.

Again, we have here young men apparently trying to sound as if their playing had been affected by old age. Some of the stutter­ing and pedestrian solos are clumsy in the extreme. Only Ian Wheeler com­municates with any articulation, and I suspect that he is made to sound better because of the paucity of his surroundings. The rhythm section doesn’t help matters at all, and somehow the Oliver numbers, ruthlessly stripped, manage to sound as though they were recorded ten years before the Oliver versions.

Fields is the best track, with a buoyant ensemble and good Wheeler. Maryland is abysmal and Riverside, attractive at first in its slow tempo, dies from over-exposure.

I’m sure Colyer would agree with me that I am probably the wrong man to review this record.

(a) Sweet Fields; (a) Riverside Blues; (a) Salutation March; (a) Cheek To Cheek; (b) Maryland, My Maryland (18 min) – (a) Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen; (a) Dusty Rag; (a) Working Man’s Blues; (a) Somebody Stole My Gal; (b) The Happy Wanderer (19 min)
(a) Ken Colyer (tpt); Ian Wheeler (clt); Mac Duncan (tbn); Ray Foxley (p); Johnny Bastable (bjo); Ron Ward (bs); Colin Bowden (d). September, 1959.
(b) Colyer (tpt); Graham Stewart (tbn); Sammy Rimington (clt); Bastable, Ward and Bowden. 22/11/60.
(Encore ENC 158 12inLP 22s. 8d.)