The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3018: Thatcher/Blount/Vickers - River Stay' Way

Personnel:  Norman Thatcher [tp], Chris Blount [cl], Dave Vickers [tb], Barry Grummett [pn], Dave Brennan [bn], Malc Murphy [dm], Mick Kennedy [sbs]

Songs:  There's Yes Yes In Your Eyes, Apple Blossom Time, Hilarity Rag, Just A Gigolo, My Memphis Baby, River Stay Way from My Door, Daddy's Little Girl, Snag It, I'm Sorry I Made You Cry, Lily of the Valley, It Is No Secret, Indiana, Yes Lord I'm Crippled.

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3018: Thatcher/Blount/Vickers - River Stay' Way

Mississippi Rag June 2000

There are two ways to evaluate the music on River Stay Way. If one demands original voices and fresh approaches when listening to jazz, then this CD will not fill the bill because the musicians' role models are obvious. However, if one is looking for spirited renditions of classic music played with enthusiasm, drive and joy then this disc should be picked up.
Trumpeter Norman Thatcher comes about as close as any current player in sounding like Bunk Johnson on a good day. Thatcher's tone and choice of notes is nearly identical to Bunk's much of the time on this set although he is much more consistent. The late and much missed clarinetist Chris Blount often emulates George Lewis, while trombonist Dave Vickers has a lot of Jim Robinson in his playing. Add to the front line a steady rhythm and one has the 1945 Bunk Johnson band on a session from 1995!
The reptoire and its treatment - short melodic solos and plenty of uncluttered ensembles - should delight all fans of Bunk and New Orleans Revival jazz in general.
- Scott Yanow


Jazz Journal [U.K.]

This is the seventh volume in a series promoted by American record producer / trombonist / drummer Bill Bisson-nette. The series is entitled "Best of the Brits", and features British musicians most adept, in Bill's judgement, at playing in the fundamental 'purist' New Orleans style. The musicians on the album will be familiar to devotees of the New Orleans scene in the U.K. Norman Thatcher"s style is predominantly influenced by Bunk Johnson's stabbing, economical, angular phrasing, with a few Colyerish touches, and Chris Blount must be one of the best of the George Lewis style clarinetists around. Dave Vickers plays a sound tailgate trombone of stark simplicity, economical but effective in ensemble, seldom venturing far from the melody in solo statements. The front line works well together as a team, but individually have little to offer as soloists, with Blount the most fluently expressive. Brennan plays a strong, steady banjo, muted to give a Marrero style cutting edge, and Male Murphy's light fills and backing phrases are from the Baby Dodds school. Credit is due for an interesting and varied repertoire. Just A Gigolo doesn't really suit the band, but River Stay "Way is an appealing interpretation. Hilarity Rag, Daddy's Little Girl [some good ensemble momentum here] and It Is No Secret are perhaps the best tracks...faithful to the authentic basic New Orleans sound and style.
- Hugh Rainey


Cadence [U.S.]

It is easy to pick out the main influences on this English group. Trumpeter Norman Thatcher mixes together Bunk Johnson and Ken Colyer, clarinetist Chris Blount is stright from George Lewis, reproducing many of his phrases and playing a bit out of tune, and Dave Vickers' percussive trombone sounds like Jim Robinson.
One can criticize this outfit's musicianship a bit and its derivitive nature, but there is a definite charm to thier performances. The repertoire has many songs that are rarely played, the melodies are kept close by and the members of the front line use space well, leaving room for each other. Thatcher's clipped trumpet matches well with Blount's passionate vibrato and, although there are some solos, it is for the many spirited ensembles that this CD will most please traditional jazz fans.
- Scott Yanow


American Rag [U.S.A.]

River Staw "Way is an outstanding 70 minute 12/27/95 date by a septet of Uptown New Orleans-styled jazzmen. In the front line are Norman Thatcher, trumpet - commanding lead in a post-Bunk Johnson mode; Chris Blount, clarinet - just as good on George Lewis; and Dave Vickers, trombone - more than a little Louis Nelson in his gruff, sturdy lines. Their smoothly meshing, urging rhythm team consists of Barry Grummett, piano; Dave Brennan, banjo; Mick Kennedy, string bass; and Male Murphy, drums.
We get lots of ensemble in the 13 title program, plus many front-line "solos" that actually turn out to be duets with another horn. Except for an extended bruising jam on Indiana, the only soloists are Thatcher, Blount, Vickers & Grummett.
The band plays with confidence, uncompromising integrity and plenty of heart, while the rhythm section digs in for all it's worth. Every ride is satisfying. Uptown buffs can't go wrong here. Five stars. This column's highest rating.
- Tex Wyndham


Victory Review - U. S. A. Magazine

Thatcher is known for his work with Key Colyer band in England as is the reedman John Wurr. Thatcher's round, quiet tone emulates Bix styling on trumpet and uses a three-piece rhythm of Hugh Crozier on piano; a Colyer alum, Sarah Roof, on banjo; and Steve Davis on tuba. Crozier uses ragtime feel with some high-end chords and runs boogie pianists use as in "At The Cross/Good Night Sweet Prince." I enjoyed the baritone and trumpet playing on "Porter's Love Song." Nice romp and pulse to "Sorry" with the baritone leading the way. Interesting set of tunes, diverse approach and nice, open feel with a quintet. Enjoyable upbeat material.
- Chris Lunn


IAJRC Journal - U. S. A.

It is amazing how jazz has spread throughout the world and the Brits are now some of the better performers of the New Orleans style. On this recording. Jazz Crusade producer Big Bill Bissonnette has come up with some very tine British musicians who play in a style reminiscent of thai heard years ago in New Orleans. These jazzmen are from three bands: the Ken Colyer Trust, directed by trumpeter Norman Thatcher, Banjoisl Dave Brennan's Jubilee Jazz Band, and clarinetist Chris Blount's New Orleans Jazz Band. Trombonist Dave Vickers is a member of the Ken Colyer Trust, and he. bassist Mick Kennedy and pianist Barry Grurnmett play in the Jubilee Jazz Band. Drummer Male Murphy works with several bands.
Put these guys together and, as Bissonnette says in the album notes, it's "a real good ensemble band." The fron! line musicians worK very well together with fine backup from the piano, and the rhythm section provides a steady beat that is evident today in only such New Orleans-inspired bands as the New Black Eagle Jazz Band in the United States and Kid Bastien's Happy Pals in Toronto, Canada. These British musicians play with feeling and dynamics while playing in New Orleans ensemble, which is immediately evident in the initial rendition, "There's Yes! Yes! in Your Eyes," from 1924. This tune was recorded by Paul Whiteman on the Victor label, An Kahn (Columbia), Guy Lombardo (Decca), Artie Shaw (Columbia), and Eddy Howard (Mercury). And here, as elsewhere on this CD. Thalcher's trumpet sounds off very well on the melodic lead and the Ihree members of the front line and the piano have outstanding solos. Blount's clarinet, Vick-ers's trombone and Thatcher are at their best an solos and leads on "River Stay 'Way from My Door." The ensemble playing is particularly outstanding on the traditional "Lily of Ihe Valley," Joe "King" Oliver's wonderfully bluesy "Snag It," one of the better renditions, and "Daddy's Little Girl."
"Just a Gigolo," from 1930, a Viennese popular song originally tilled "Schbner Gigolo," was introduced in the United States by Irene Bordoni. Its first successful recording was by Vincent Lopez and His Orchestra on the Hit of the Week label; a new recording, on a flexible disc, was issued and sold under this label's name each week at newsstands. Olher early recordings were by Bing Crosby (Victor) and Harry Richrrtan (Brunswick). Today, at concerts and jazz festivals, Beriin-bom Warty Grosz does a splendid uocal of this song in English and German, but here there is no vocal, unfortunately; however, the tune is one of the better offerings by the band with fine solos from the trumpet, trombone and piano, and some nice, light press rolls from Murphy.
The band is best on the snappy "Indiana," from 1917, as there are excellent solos and counterpoint from the front line, Brennan takes an interesting banjo solo, and Murphy uses the endre drum set, to include the snare drum, cowbells and tom-toms. Following "Indiana" is the traditional "Yes Lord I'm Crippled," a perfect selection for the final tune. For those lisleners who like the wonderful New Orleans style, this fine CD is tor them.
- George Borgman


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