Norman Field [cl], Richard Simmons [pn], Terry Knight
Songs: Isle of Capri, Mama's Gone Goodbye, Wolverine
Blues, Saturday Night Function, I Know That You Know, Sweet Sue, My Melancholy
Baby, Fidgety Feet, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Three Little Words, So Sweet,
Someday Sweetheart, Hindustan, Am I Blue?, I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles,
Red Light Blues, Tiger Rag.
The Red Light Trio
Mississippi Rag - U. S. A. June 2000
Big Bill Bissonnette, a fine trombonist, is actually most significent
for his work as a record label owner and as an instigator of stimulating
projects. Bissonnette has been responsible for many rewarding recordings
taking place that would otherwise have never been documented. In some
ways, it is surprising that the Red Light Trio outing is on the Jazz Crusade
label for the music at times almost looks towards swing. The musicianship
of these three men is beyond repute. Norman Field is a fluent clarinetist
whose lower register recalls Tony Parenti. He is a passionate but smooth
player who is at his best on uptempo multi-theme material such as Wolverine
Blues, Tiger Rag and Fidgety Feet,
Pianist Richard Simmons recalls Art Hodes in spots, gives much of the
music a bluish feel and is consistently inventive. Bassist Terry Knight,
whose forcefull playing on some of the tunes is worthy of Pops Foster,
is superior in support of the lead voices.
None of their 17 performances loses one's interest, and the interplay
among the three musicians keeps the music swinging while avoiding predictability.
Although they play very well, this is not a regular group, and the band's
name was named after the red light on Terry Knight's amplifer!
- Scott Yanow
All Music Guide - U. S. A.
In 1995 producer-trombonist Big Bill Bissonnette recorded clarinetist
Norman Field, pianist Richard Simmons and bassist Terry Knight for a CD
on his Jazz Crusade label. The group was dubbed the "Red Light Trio"
because of the light that was on Knight's amplifier! Their music was very
much in the tradition of 1920's New Orleans with Field in particular sounding
strong. There was no attempt to keep the band together after the recording
session was over but, since all three musicians play in the trad circuit
in England, it is possible that they will regroup in some form in the
- Scott Yanow
L.A. Jazz Scene - U. S. A.
None of the English players on this CD from Jazz Crusade are well-known
here [clarinetist Norman Field, pianist Richard Simmons and bassist Terry
Knight] but on evidence of this excellent record, they should be. Field
is a superior player whose style is a bit reminiscent of Tony Parent!,
Joe Marsala and Jimmie Noone and Richard Simmons is a fine swing pianist
while Terry Knight consistently drives the ensembles.
With Field as the lead voice, the trio interprets a variety of selections,
mostly from the 1920's and 30's, that include such enjoyable pieces as
"Isle of Capri," "Mama's Gone Goodbye," "I Know
that You Know," "Purple Rose of Cairo," "I'm Forever
Blowing Bubbles" and 12 others. Classic jazz fans will want to get
this set for there are plenty of explosive moments and surprises in addition
to solid swinging. It is gratifying to know that in 1995, this style of
music is still being played with creativity.
- Scott Yanow
Gene Miller - U.S.A.
All too often, jazz trios bore us with vapid cocktail music or meaningless
cascades of notes -perhaps both. Not so the Red Light Trio. This group
of seasoned British jazzmen plays elegant but strongly rhythmic jazz in
the true New Orleans manner, deftly elaborating on the melody but never
forsaking it. The group richly deserves to be included among the "Best
of the Brits," the series of Jazz Crusade's offerings of which this
is the sixth, recorded last May in Fjigland.
Norman Field plays a nimble and sensitive clarinet, refreshingly delicate
and refined. Richard Simmons' piano is sturdy and melodic, while Terry
Knight on the string bass seems to push each number right along with no
sense of effort or strain. Each is in good command of his instrument.
The overall effect is light but at the same timepropulsive.
has outstanding passages in almost every tune.
Jazz Journal - U.K.
This album is one of a series recorded for and supervised by Big Bill
Bissonnette on recent visits to Britain. Bill's policy has been to assem-
Die groups 01 musicians, rauict man use csuiu-lished bands, an interesting
concept in that it gives the opportunity for musicians to work together
for the first time. The Red Light Trio was such a group.
Terry Knight is an all-action player in the New Orleans slap bass tradition.
Pianist Richard Simmons is a forthright, attacking player, who in his
younger days was an Alton Purnell stylist - - he worked with Ken Colyer
and recorded with John Handy etc. In recent years he has worked with various
jazz-funk and R&B groups on keyboards and electric pianos. Richard
returns to wooden piano for this session. Norman Field is a new name to
me; based in Birmingham he appears regularly at jazz festivals and is
an expert on Twenties style music. He was a long-serving member of the
Zenith Hot Stompers, has run his own band, the Harmony Hounds, and has
appeared with the Colyer Trust band. 1 thoroughly enjoyed his work on
this album. He carries the melodic resposibiliry on every track with considerable
assurance. Sample the contrasting tempos and moods of "My Melancholy
Baby" and "Fidgety Feet." Norman doesn't fit into a neat
compartment clarinet wise, but I hear overtones of Ray Burke, Albert Nicholas
and, as Bill Bissonnette points out, Polo Barnes. His playing has considerable
swing and fluency, coupled with a truly mellow tone - nice use of dynamics
too - impressive! Given the circumstances, with no rehearsal time, it
was a major acheivement to get no less than 17 tracks in the can and there
is a remarkable feeling of integration between the members of the trio.
My favorite tracks are "Wolverine Blues,"" So Sweet,"
a ragged but exciting Terry the Tiger" and "Red Light Blues."
Fine Simmons blues piano on the latter and a non-slap down home chorus
to back Norman's Creole clarinet.
- Pat Hawes
American Rag - U.S.A.
The Red Light Trio consists of British jazzmen Norman Filed, clarinet;
Richard Simmons, piano; Terry Knight, string bass. Field exhibits a woody
nearly vibrato-less tone, fleet dancing lines, and more than a little
of Jimmie Noone in his ideas (6 of the 17 tunes were waxed by Noone's
combo). Simmons evokes one of my favorite ticklers, Art Hodes, in his
bluesy smears, part-chord funks, treble glances and left-hand jabs. Knight,
who sticks mostly to functional rhythm, supplies the glue between the
two princibals, laying down a reliable big-bottomed beat whether slapping
or plucking. It's a very satisfying helping of downtown New Orleans-style
jazz. Field's clean agile improvisations have plenty of heart, while
Simmons rougher interplay maintains backbone. The trio as a whole emits
an engaging bracing joie de vivre that keeps you coming back for more.
Five stars - our top rating.
- Tex Wyndham
IAJRC Journal - U.S.A.
We can trace the history of the jazz trio with clarinet back 70 years.
Sidney Bechet, Albert Nicholas, Johnny Dodds, Jim-mie Noone and Omer Simeon
all played in them. Bechet used a trio with Clarence Williams and Buddy
Christian back in 1923. In 1925, Richard M. Jones led a trio with Nicholas
and Johnny St. Cyr. Dodds led trios with piano and washboard or guitar
as the third voice from 1926 to 1927 before settling on Bill Johnson and
his string bass as a permanent member in 1928. Jelly Roll Morton used
clarinetist Barney Bigard in a trio with drummer Zutty Singleton in 1929.
The Red Light Trio, a name bestowed at the recording session, is
true to the time-honored tradition that has preceded it. Field uses all
the colors of the New Orleans clarinet spectrum. Knight is a bassist
out of the Pops Foster school. If you've been to New Orleans' Preservation
Hall, you've heard the style of piano Richard Simmons plays. He leads,
feeds and solos.
Reaching back in history, the trio plays: ODJB's Nick LaRocca's &
Larry Shields' 1918 "Fidgety Feet." It is done to a turn. It
bounces along at a merry clip and with the new
blood flowing through its veins, it gets a'roaring and a'soar-ing; Jelly
Roll's 1923 "Wolverine Blues" is up-beat and uptempo. Bass
and piano supply almost nuclear energy; Armand J. Piron's 1923 "Mama's
Gone, Goodbye" and his 1924 "Purple Rose of Cairo." In
"Mama's," Field's clarinet first offers a plaintive cry, then
a celebratory call. "Cairo" tells a beautiful story - the piece
demands of the trio its very best; Jimmie Noone's 1930 "So Sweet"
also challenges the trio - the trio responds with a sensuous performance
just as it did on "Purple Rose." The fine "Saturday Night
Function" is played at a traditional New Orleans funeral march walkin'-to-the-cemetery
tempo. Clarinet leads the way, piano solo is somber, retaining the mood,
low register clarinet returns weaving its impassioned cries.
"Am I Blue" is soft and religious. 'Three Little Words"
jumps. "Hindustan" is solid in the New Orleans pocket, the piano
bristles, the bass spanks, the clarinet responds to the stimulus.
On "Red light Blues," a growling blues, you can almost hear
the dancers doin' the slow drag. Simmons' piano has a real Preservation
Hall sound. The string bass gets to play a solo chorus. Gut-bucket blues
- the tap root.
Remember, the trio is working without a drummer, so the bass and piano
must supply the beat and keep the rhythm flowing. In the few moments when
clarinetist Field lets down, the pushing of bassist Knight and power of
Simmons' piano playing lift him right back up. The Red Light Trio never
deserts the true New Orleans idiom. There is even a fine set of variations
on "Tiger Rag," a good test for any group seeking authentication.
The Red Light Trio qualifies.
- Gil Sokobw
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