The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3028: What Do You Want Me To Do? -
Norman Thatcher's Ragtime Band

Personnel:  Norman Thatcher [tp], John Wurr [rds], Hugh Crozier [pn], Sarah Roofe [bn], Steve Davis [bbs]

Songs: 
At the Cross, Cataract Rag, A Porter's Love Song, What Do You Want Me To Do, Good Night Sweet Prince, Hilarity Rag, How Great Thou Art, Sorry, I'm Coming Virginia, That Teasin' Rag, The Sunshine of Your Smile, Dardanella, Louisiana, Fig Leaf Rag, Just One More Chance, Good Night Sweetheart.

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3028: What Do You Want Me To Do? -
Norman Thatcher's Ragtime Band

Old Jazz Express - Netherlands

I was really surpised when I heard this CD. I've always considered Norman Thatcher as a musician strictly in the New Orleans idiom but here he suddenly reveals himself as a Bix Beiderbecke disciple! He is ably assisted by the other players. No trombone; no drums. However the music is much more than Bixian. We hear four rags, some spirituals and "old black" in King Oliver style. But many of the titles come from the Beiderbecke school such as A Porter's Love Song, Sorry & I'm coming Virginia. This is not music that makes you jump out of your chair but more easy listening and very well played!
- Gerard Bielderman


Mississippi Rag - U.S.A.

This little gem features trumpeter Norman Thatcher. Here he leads a quintet featuring the fairly odd instrumentation of clarinet doubling alto and baritone saxes, piano, banjo and tuba. The group generates a pretty good head of steam for a drumless rhythm section, aided by some mobile tuba playing from Steve Davis and solid rhythm from Sarah Roofe on piano and pianist Hugh Crozier. The two man front line works well together. Thatcher uses a light attack on trumpet likened in the liner notes to both Bix and Bunk, and this works especially well on the four rags among the selections. A smallish group like this has the effect of putting the melody to the forefront, and some of the numbers sound really beautiful as Thatcher and his group approach them. The verse to A Porter's Love Song is often omitted, but here it provides more interest than the better known chorus.
At the Cross, an old Dr. Watts hymn we still sing in church, leads off. The number is taken at a bright tempo and features beautiful interplay between Thatcher and reedman John Wurr, a long serving Colyer sideman. Sorry, the old Beiderbecke number, works very well here. Wurr weighs in on baritone, and they generate a sound very evocative of Bix and his gang. Dardanella, a number I'd grown tired of, is taken at a nice loping tempo that works beautifully and the themes just roll along.
A recording like this is a challenge when you're working with aband of limited instrumentation - it's easy to come up with an album with very little variety. But Norman Thatcher has neatly avoided most of the pitfalls and having a triple-threat reedman like Wurr allows considerable variety in the voicings.
- Scott Yanow


Jazz Journal International - British Magazine

Norman Thatcher, leader of the Ken Colyer Trust Band, leads here a compatible and capable quintet through an interesting mix of mainly rags, spirituals and antique popular songs and ballads, appropriate repertoire for the New Orleans idiom. The big surprise in this context lies in the Beiderbecke material.
Thatcher's phrasing, with Bunk clearly the dominant influence, is generally relaxed, contained and understated in the Colyer tradition, but a little too dour, straight-laced and unadventurous for my taste. From Bunk to Bix sounds a quantum leap in style, but to my surprise and pleasure Thatcher makes a very passable fist of the Beiderbecke sound, with an effective pastiche of Bix's playing on Sorry and I'm Coming Virginia (let down somewhat by an unimpressive coda). On Louisiana. quite incredibly, a workable blend of Bunk and Bix emerges in Thatcher's phrasing, improbable as that must sound!
Some tracks are pretty undistinguished, but I enjoyed the loose, yet attentive interpretations of the three 'proper' rags. Cataract, Hilarity and Fig Leaf, with Thatcher at his best; also the title track, and the simple, effective handling of that lovely old sentimental ballad, The Sunshine Of Your Smile. John Wurr gives consistently strong, versatile support on reeds, his bustling baritone adding appropriate colour to the Bix tracks. I missed the drive a good drummer would have given to a capable but fairly staid rhythm section, but Hugh Crozier is a sound pianist and solos impressively on Hilarity Rag and That Teasin' Rag while Steve Davis lays down good brass bass figures.
All in all, enjoyable early listening in the purist New Orleans idiom basically, but with a healthy and welcome broadening of approach which integrates Bix and the baritone with surprising ease.
- Hugh Rainey


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

 


American Rag - U. S. A.

British trumpeter Norman Thatcher's Ragtime Band operates with one foot in instrumental ragtime and the other in cheerful, white New Orleans-style Dixieland. On this 70-minute 3/8/97 date, Thatcher supplies a gentle straightforward lead and occasional solos; tubist Steve Davis and banjoist Sarah Roofe deliver gliding, bouncy, functional two-beat; and pianist Hugh Crozier and clarinefaito and baritone saxophonist John Wurr fill out the sound while furnishing the principal solo interest.
These elements come together engagingly enough most of the time, although "Good Night Sweet Prince" and "How Greal Thou Art" are stiffly constructed ditties that the quintet is unable to get airborne and "The Sunshine Of Your Smile" comes out on the sudsy side. Wurr is a delight, his various horns adding welcome changes in color and his impassioned, dancing lines keeping the pressure up, while Crozier displays punchy two-fisted raggy tickling. Exploring the same territory as the famed St. Louis Ragtimers (sans vocals, however), this CD gets the job done in sincere, respectable, no-frills fashion. Three stars.
- Tex Wyndham


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