The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3021: By George! - It's Probert in England

Personnel:  George Probert [reeds], Dave Copperwaite [tp], Geoff Cole [tb], Pat Hawes [pn], Sarah Spencer [t-sx], Andy Ford [bn], Ken Matthews [sbs], Pete Lay [dm]

Songs:  I Want to be Happy, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Over in the Gloryland, Just One More Chance, My Old Kentucky Home, Jackass Blues, Give Me Your Telephone Number, Chloe, I'll Always Be In Love with You, Whispering, Arkansas Blues, The Olympia on Parade.

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3021: By George! - It's Probert in England

Mississippi Rag - U. S. A.

Trombonist Big Bill Bissonette founded and ran the Jazz Crusade label in the 1960s, specializing in revival New Orleans jazz as played by the survivors from decades earlier. In the early 1990s he brought back the label and resumed documenting the ensemble-oriented music that he loved. Although virtually none of the early New Orleans players was still around, Bissonnette has had no difficulty finding younger musicians in the genre who deserve to be recorded. Several of Bissonnette's projects have found him visiting England where trad jazz has a long tradition, dating back to Ken Colyer and Humphrey Lyttleton in the 1950s and such popular trad stars as Kenny Ball, Chris Barber and Acker Bilk.
George Probert, who for a time was with Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band in the 1950s, is perhaps best known for his period as a member of the Firehouse Five Plus Two. His exuberant soprano playing is quite distinctive, owing little to Sidney Bechet except in its passion.
Probert and Spencer make for an exciting team on By George and are the two main voices both in ensemble and as soloists. Trombonist Geoff Cole also fares well while trumpeter Dave Copperwaite is very much in a supportive role (Probert usually takes the lead in ensembles) and the rhythm section (pianist Pat Hawes, banjoist Andy Ford, bassist Ken Matthews and drummer Pete Lay) keeps the music moving.
The repertoire includes some swing standards, 1920's New Orleans favorites, a version of "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" that has Probert switching to alto, and plenty of stomping ensembles. This is a CD that is impossible not to enjoy.
- Scott Yanow


IAJRC Journal - U. S. A.

Reedman George Probert gets together with a few English jazz players on this recording to produce some good jazz in the traditional style of New Orleans. There is good interplay between Probert's reeds and Sarah Bissonnette's tenor saxophone on several of the tunes, but the blending of their instruments does not always work well, especially on "Chloe," on which there seems to be a difference of opinion between the two saxophonists in regard to certain chord changes. Also, at times, there is too much tenor saxophone backup to the other frontliners' solos.
The first tune sets the mood for the whole recording, for it is an exciting rendition of Vincent Youmans' "I Want to Be Happy," which was introduced to the public in 1925 in the stage musical No, No, Nanette, and it was subsequently featured in a couple of movies and Broadway revivals. Here, trombonist Geoff Cote and pianist Pat Hawes take interesting solos, and Probert shines on the soprano sax, with fine drum work from drummer Pete Lay. Hawes' piano and the front line are outstanding on the extremely long (almost nine minutes) "Arkansas Blues" (1921), by Anton Lada and Spencer Williams. There are fine solos from Probert's soprano, Dave Copperwaite's trumpet and Andy Ford's banjo, with some nice counterpoint provided by Bissonnette, on "Over in the Gloryland." The trombone and the piano shine on "Just One More Chance" and good ensemble playing is featured on "My Old Kentucky Home" and J. C. Higginbotham's "Give Me Your Telephone Number," a real swinger and one of the better renditions. In 1920, Paul Whiteman introduced "Whispering" on a Victor recording, which sold a million copies, and it was later featured in tour film musicals: Ziegfeld Girl (1941), Greenwich Village (1944), Give My Regards to Broadway (1948), and The Eddy Duchin Story (1956). The All-Stars play "Whispering" quite well here, with a fine piano solo in the middle, as Ken Matthews provides a solid beat in the background on the bass.
So, the British tradition of New Orleans jazz continues, but this compact disc, even though many of the tunes are excellently performed, is not always the best example of it; however, it is worth possessing.
- George Borgman


Jazz Journal International - British Magazine

George Probert, that pillar of the West Coast revival, is as authoritative and idiosyncratic as one would expect, providing a tour de force on all his instruments and particularly on the straight soprano sax which seems to suit his quirky personality perfectly. He is ably abetted by Sarah Bissonnette, a long-time admirer, although sometimes she gets under his feet a little and sounds more comfortable on the faster numbers. Geoff Cole provides expert and appropriate trombone work and the rhythm section drives along well with Pat Hawes demonstrating his experience with every note. Copperwaite is a bit too hesitant to give an effective lead, but with Probert's playing as dynamic as it is this is not a great problem. The sound quality is not as clear as it might be, but this is an enjoyable session and gives us an excellent opportunity to hear a veteran master of the reeds still very much at his best.
- Christopher Hillman


AMG *** Review - U. S. Jazz Guide

Soprano-saxophonist George Probert (who doubles on alto for this lively set) is best-known as an alumnus of the Firehouse Five Plus Two but he has been a fixture at traditional jazz festivals for decades. On this set he teams up with "The British All-Stars," a spirited septet of hard-stomping players. The ensemble-oriented music matches together Probert with tenor-saxophonist Bissonnette whose style mixes together early Coleman Hawkins with the shouting trad/r&b of altoist Captain John Handy. Trumpeter Dave Copperwaite, trombonist Geoff Cole and a fine four-piece rhythm section complete the group which is really driven by bassist Ken Matthews (who sometimes recalls Pops Foster). The repertoire contains a few surprises including successful versions of J.C. Higginbottham's "Give Me Your Telephone Number," "Just One More Chance" and "Chloe" along with more conventional standards. Not everything works during the date (there are some mistakes, Copperwaite sometimes falters and the horns occasionally slip out of tune) but the spirit and joy of New Orleans jazz is definitely present and some of the ensembles are quite rambunctious. This fun session is therefore easily recommended to fans of the freewheeling style.
- Scott Yanow


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