The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3006: Big Bill Bissonnette - Big Bill's British Band

Personnel: Big Bill Bissonnette (tb), Ken Pye (tp), Norman Field (cl/asx), Sarah Spencer(tsx), John RT Davies (asx), Richard Simmons (pn), Eric Webster (bn) Bill Cole (sbs), Dion Cochrane (dm)

Songs:  Smile Darn You Smile, You Are My Sunshine, When My Dreamboat Comes Home, Yearning, Marie, Blues for Two's, Kid Thomas Boogie Woogie, On Moonlight Bay, Collegiate, S'il Vous Plait, On A Coconut Island, Should I?

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3006: Big Bill Bissonnette - Big Bill's British Band

Hot Jazz Saturday Night - U. S. A. Jazz Radio
(WAMU Radio, Washington DC)

Among Bill's new releases on his revived Jazz Crusade label is a recording he made while in Britain with players who haven't, as he says it, lost "the touch" or the "inclination" to play the sort of jazz that leaves you with a grin on your face and "sex on your mind." So Bill carefully chose the players on this date, which includes Norman Field on clarinet and alto, Sarah Bissonnete is on tenor, John R.T. Davies guests on alto on some tides, Ken Pye is on trumpet, and the whole thing is wild and wooly. But that's the way Big Bill likes it - - and if we can't handle it, well, that's our problem, not his. Can we handle it? Only one way to find out - - here's Big Bill's British Band. Run for cover! When Big Bill's in charge, what happens happens!
- Rob Bamberger


Jazz News - British Magazine

Nothing in the copious and controversial notes which accompany this CD from Big Bill's British Band can quite prepare one for the culture shock of the first few bars of the amazing sound of this band. Mr. Bissonnette, a white American who comes to jazz trombone via the New Orleans revival with particular reference to Jim Robinson, appears to be an overt champion of the primitive. Nothing wrong with that of course - the romantic concept of the noble savage is a totally worthy artistic criterion. The listener is hit by a wall of sound... When My Dreamboat Comes Home and Mane are taken at the laidback tempo favored by many Crescent City bands, which enables one to appreciate the excellent rhythm section. A lazy On Moonlight Bay is followed by Collegiate (/ce Cream'in disguise) and S'il Vous Plait which has a particularly fine solo from pianist Richard Simmons, whose blues/gospel style creates a sensitive backing behind many of the solos throughout the album. The final two numbers, On A Coconut Island and Should I roll on quite happily.
- Tony Foulkes


Kings Jazz Review - British Magazine

This band is made up from various musicians Bill met and played with on his 1993 tour of Great Britain. They have put together an interesting programme of tunes - some familiar, and some not so familiar.
The music stomps along merrily with tight-knit ensemble work and excellent solos by the band members and has the feel throughout of a prolonged, well-after-hours jam session. If freewheeling, happy-go-lucky jazz is to your taste, then this CD is for you.
- John Rickard


George H. Buck's Radio Program

Well, I'll tell you what: I'm gonna give it 3 1/2 stars - - No! I'm gonna give it 4 stars! Pat Wynn
I think it's a real treat. I liked it George and I'm going to give it 3 stars. Dave Leslie
I'm goingvAwith 3 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed this recording a lot. To me that is the New Orleans jazz that I love. Jerry Brock
I enjoyed this very much so I'm going to give it 3 1/2 stars. John Pult
A rating of excellent for this new release and the highest of any release this month. Big Bill Bissonnette and his British Band is voted the top record of the month on the Jazz Crusade label!
- George H. Buck


Cadence Magazine - U. S. A.

The Bissonnette CD is as close to traditional New Orleans style as Bill could make it. . . he has absorbed and put to good use one strong principle of traditional New Orleans music -the use of well controlled dynamics to enhance drive - and this, plus a good selection of titles, makes for an enjoyable hour. The practice of starting a number softly and then, with each chorus, slightly increasing the sound level so that the takeout chorus is loud, is a major means of giving any piece "drive." (cf. Ravel's "Bolero") and many of the older New Orleans musicians used it with great effect. Bill, a trombonist in the Jim Robinson mold, was responsible for the great popularity in Connecticut during the 1960's of New Orleans jazz and a number of Jazz Crusade LPs were issued at that time. . . and much esteemed by collectors. His own Easy Riders Jazz Band also had a large following and he now has this new edition of the group. The new CD doesn't compare to the best of the original Easy Riders, but it does have the strengths noted above as well as better than average recording quality considering the venue. If traditional New Orleans jazz is your thing, it would make a good CD for your next beer bust.
- Shirley Klett


West Coast Rag - U. S. A.

Let's not beat around the bush. Big Bill's British Band is the best recently-recorded uptown-style New Orleans Dixieland album that's come my way in some time.
This 68-minute October 9, 1993 studio session has all of the raw-edged vitality of trombonist Bill Bissonnette's fondly remembered Jazz Crusade LPa, plus much better acoustic balance and through-the-lineup strength. Moreover, as Ken Pye'a incisive trumpet echoes Kid Thomas and Sarah Bissonnette's urgent tenor saxophone does the same for Emanuel Paul, the overall ambiance is pleasingly evocative, without being imitative, of the most influential combo of its type during the 1960s, Kid Thomas' Algiers Stompers.
Along with the above-mentioned artists, the sidemen are: Norman Field, clarinet /alto saxophone (sparkling old-timey tone on the licorice stick); (on 7 of the 11 rides) John R.T. Davies, alto saxophone (delightful floating lines); Richard Simmons, piano (spare, gentle-but-firm solos); Eric Webster, banjo; Bill Cole, string baas; and Dion Cochrane, drums. The last three confine themselves, and very ably too, to functional rhythm.
Routines are thoughtfully designed to get maximum effect from the five-horn front line, dividing it into duets that tease the ear with changing textures, while ensembles are powerfully thick without being cumbersome. Not even the two overlong and somewhat ordinary jams that end the recording can keep this one from getting this column's top rating of five stars.


Jazz Journal International - British Jazz Magazine

In this Made In Britain offering we are brought up to date with the leader's crusade for contentment in the performance of unscripted free-wheeling revivalist New Orleans style Jazz, His notes on this and the reissue (JCCD3003I make it abundantly clear that he has some affinity with the Holy Grail quest of Ken Colyer— although the sounds we hear on this CD are somewhat different to those made by Ken.
Surrounded by a covey of like-minded veterans, Bill rollicks happily through a program of cheerful nostalgia. If some of the overall cohesion and individual intonation was occasionally less than perfect, then second takes and remixing were eschewed in favor of a gutsy warts-and-all presentation. All the participants appear to have had a good time, and that is clearly the essence of Bill's approach to music making. There are, no doubt, many readers who will delight in the honest fundamentalism and energy with which we are regaled, but all will, I feel sure, agree that this one might not have been John Coltrane's favorite gig!
- Eddie Blackwell


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