"Jam Session In Connecticut - Vol. 1"
JazzReview.com: - Internet Publication
Anyone who is into New Orleans traditional jazz is familiar
with Big Bill Bissonnette. Bill's interest in the music began early and,
like many others, he was influenced by Gene Krupa's "drumnastics"
and led a swing trio while in high school. During the summer of 1955,
Bissonnette discovered pure New Orleans jazz at Jimmy Ryan's in New York.
The band included the DeParis brothers, Omer Simeon and drummer Zutty
Singleton. The New Orleans style captivated the teenager and was to become
a major part of his life.
Bissonnette took up the trombone in the early sixties and studied with
Big Jim Robinson while living in the Crescent City for a short time. Upon
his return home to Connecticut, he and some like-minded friends started
the Connecticut Traditional Jazz Club and a band called The Easy Riders.
The club began to bring in New Orleans talent for their local concerts
beginning with the George Lewis band. Other denizens of Bourbon Street
came up as single acts to play with the Easy Riders including Kid Thomas,
Emmanuel Paul and the British clarinetist, Sammy Rimington. Others followed
and Bissonnette's personal "jazz crusade" was born.
This CD brings together a number of Connecticut musicians who were important
parts of a series of Big Bill's bands over the years. Fred Vigorito was
a cornetist in the early sixties version of the Easy Riders and has operated
his own Galvanized Jazz Band in Connecticut since 1971. The G.J.B. is
a favorite on the festival circuit and one of the most popular jazz bands
in the state. It was the visit of Ron Going to his home state, that inspired
this record session. The clarinetist is now a part of the California scene
and plays with the Gremoli Jazz Band. He studied with the late Barney
Bigard. Jerry Zigmont is an exciting trombonist who has been a regular
part of Woody Allen's band in New York since 1996. He puts in frequent
guest appearances with the Galvanized Jazz Band and has been featured
with Doc Cheatham and Percy Humphrey. Bill Sinclair was the original pianist
with the Easy Riders and has appeared with several other Bissonnette and
Vigorito groups. I've always been impressed with Sinclair's free and easy
style and I'm delighted to hear him on this CD. Emil Mark began his music
career as a folk banjoist playing the coffee house circuit back in the
late sixties. As a "sit in" player at the Connecticut Traditional
Jazz Club, Emil developed a taste for the New Orleans style and since
the mid nineties has been on a significant number of important recordings
for Jazz Crusade. His appearances with Sweet Mary Cat, Tuba Fats, Gregg
Stafford, Jacques Gauthe and Dr. Michael White are memorable and fine
examples of how a tenor banjo should be played. Arnie Hyman is a veteran
bassist who has been a part of the famed Red Onions Jazzband for years.
Hyman has played with an enviable list of jazz stars including Omer Simeon,
Max Kaminsky, George Lewis, Wild Bill Davison, James P. Johnson and the
list never ends.
The studio session is informal and enthusiastic. Bissonnette's drumming
echoes the sound of the late Sammy Penn. The "Penn" accents
create a nice level of excitement to unusual tunes such as the old Ink
Spots favorite, Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall, Love Letters In The
Sand and Mexicali Rose. Vigorito's cornet shines throughout the CD but
Tishomingo Blues is special. The tune really captures the spirit of some
vintage sessions. The treatment in 3/4 time given to the hymn, In The
Garden, is enhanced by Ron Going's beautiful solo.
The selection of material is great and it's nice to see I'm Putting All
My Eggs In One Basket recorded in this modern age. It brought back fond
memories of a 78-rpm version by Chick Bullock's Levee Loungers. The Connecticut
gang does a bang-up job on the Irving Berlin song from 1936. The band
takes on an uncharacteristic item in the form of Nat Cole's 1951 hit,
Pretend. Some creative piano by Bill Sinclair and an inventive frontline
turn an "ordinary" song into nine very interesting minutes.
The Connecticut reunion sparked an enjoyable swinging session. The guys
know each other well and it shows up in the recording. Have a listen at
Jazz Crusade's web page. While you are on the site, you should check out
Bissonnette's book, aptly titled "The Jazz Crusade." The 340
page volume is a revealing document covering the author's immersion in
the style, musicians and traditions of New Orleans. It's crammed with
photos, documents and entertaing personal experiences. My copy gets frequent
use as a refernce volume.
- Richard Bourcier
Just Jazz Magazine - England
JCCD-3084/85: Jam Session In Connecticut Vol. 1 & 2
Some readers may look at the line-up and dismiss these CDs out of hand,
saying that they do not know any of the musicians, except for Big Bill
Bissonnette. Do noy be fooled by the unknown, these guys can play, and
the tracks on these CDs prove they can play New Orleans style jazz with
plenty of joie de vivre.
Cornetist Fred Vigorito is a little gem, and I recall he used to be with
Bill's Easy Rider's Jazz Band [probably still is] back in the sixties.
He was a useful player then, but is even better nowadays. Good lead lead
cornet with a broad range of musical ideas. He demonstrates this by leading
the band through a more than interesting selection of tunes, including
a very tasteful Lonesome & Sorry and a lively version of San Antonio
A Southern Californian band known as Gremoli supplies the clarinettist,
Ron Going, who I know via e-mail conversations, and hearing him on a set
with the Pontchartrain Owls in Fritzel's on Bourbon Street this year,
is very much influenced by Albert Burbank. It is his spikey Creole tone
that interweaves very nicely with Fred's cornet and the trombone of Jerry
Zigmont. Jerry is known to me through a session he did with Sammy Rimington
and the famous Doc Cheatham. Stylistically, he follows in the tradition
of Kid Ory with a bit of Trummy Young thrown in for good measure.
Banjoist Emil Mark has been an associate of Big Bill Bissonnette since
the 90's, but they have known each other for much longer through their
connections with the Connecticut Traditional Jazz Club. Another associate
of Bill's is pianist Bill Sinclair who was with the Easy Riders JB back
in its formative years, and appears on all those wonderful Capt John Handy
recordings of the December Band.
The final catalyst to a wondereful recording is bassist Arnie Hyman, who
literally has played with a "Who's Who of Jazz." In fact he
first met Sammy Rimington when he stayed with Ken Colyer in the early
sixties while on vacation. His credentials speak for themselves.
So, there you have it in a nutshell, and one would glean from my words
that I am fully in favor of this particular session being released for
you all to hear. Don't just take my word for it, other have heard it being
played in my car, and also found it good listening material. Recommended.
- Peter Lay
Jazz Journal - British Jazz Magazine
The photos show that this is a band of ageing white men and the sound
tells us that this is a tribute to an earlier generation of ageing black
men, specifically those who established Preservation Hall as a world-famous
venue. That sound requires a very relaxed approach to rhythm and rather
sparse contributions from the brassmen though the clarinet has a more
expansive role. Perhaps because this was not a regular group the rhythm
section's approach is not entirely^con-sistent, the banjo player's beat
sounding rather stiff beside the more flexible drumming of producer and
The front line fare better. Going certainly sounds like a New Orleans
player (though his lower register pitching is sometimes wayward) and the
brass players are both excellent. Zigmont's work is simple and punchy
but very expressive while trumpeter Vigorito provides the greatest justification
for releasing this music on CD. His hot playing, somewhere between the
styles of Kid Thomas and Wild Bill Davison, is a delight on every track,
whether open or muted, and he surely deserves to be widely recognised.
Yet if you want to know any more about him you'll have to buy Volume One
as Volume Two has only the second part of the notes, with no information
about Vigorito at all.
- Graham Colombe
Jazz Gazette - Internet Jazz Publication
During the 1960's, The Easy Riders Jazz band from Connecticut was one
of the leading New Orleans style jazz bands in the USA. Big Bill Bissonnette
was the leader and inspirer of the band and together they toured and recorded
with many New Orleans musicians, such as George Lewis, Kid Thomas, John
Handy, Jim Robinson, Kid Sheik, Sing Miller, Sammy Penn and many others.
I was fortunate enough to meet most of the members when they came to Europe
at the invitation of the now defunct and then very successful Jazz Mâcon
Club of Mâcon, France. First came Big Bill and Bill Sinclair and
some years later Fred Vigorito and Dick Griffith. In 1990, while staying
at Bill Sinclair's place in Trumbull, Connecticut, I met again Griff and
his wife, Sweetie Pie, and also Mouldy Dick Mc Carthy and his wife, Fran.
Listening to these guys, telling stories about musicians and jobs, like
when 'Mayor' Griffith handed over the keys of the city to Sammy Penn.
On this CD, Big Bill got together with some of his old mates such as Bill
Sinclair and Fred Vigorito and he added Jerry Zigmont from the Woody Allen
Band, Emile Marks on banjo and Arnie Hyman on bass. On clarinet, he got
Connecticut expatriate, Ron Going. Big Bill himself plays drums on these
recordings. I had not heard Fred playing for a long time and I was happily
surprised hearing him leading the band with a firm, on moments Kid Thomas
inspired, lead. Like I said before, Bill Sinclair is getting better by
the years. And it is nice to hear Ron Going in another context.
The band swings like hell, playing some fine under-recorded numbers such
as 'Love Letters In The Sand', 'Mexicali Rose', 'Lonesome And Sorry',
'Pretend', etc. There are no stars in this band, just the way Big Bill
always wanted his band to sound, playing relaxed and ensemble, old time
New Orleans music.
Bill Bissonnette added another fine recording to his already impressive
list. A CD which should be in each New Orleans record collector's collection.
- Jempi De Donder
& Radio program
Trombonist, drummer and pioneering record label owner Big Bill Bissonnette
(Jazz Crusade is his) does not believe in rehearsed recordings, preferring
instead the fire and spontaneity of the jam session atmosphere
once so much an integral part of the jazz scene. Here hes captured
a classic with the wonderfully unique Kid Thomas inspired cornet sound
of one time fellow Bissonnette band member Fred Vigorito and the clarinet
of Ron Going (Gremoli) leading the way. Its a romping session full
of life and verve - wish we had them like this round here. It would be
a crime, having mentioned two of the front line, not to name the others
who contribute to this classic session - Jerry Zigmont - trombone; Bill
Sinclair - piano; Emil Mark - banjo; Arnie Hyman - string bass and Big
Bill on drums.
- Brian Harvey
Kings Jazz Review—British Internet jazz magazine
These "Jam Session In Connecticut" CDs brings back very happy memories to me in the 60s area of Croydon, Greater London, England and beyond, where Traditional jazz reigned supreme, and, life was lived to a full musical enjoyment, listening and dancing to this intriguing and exciting music, sadly no longer to be heard live Connecticut style to the extent and authenticity that it once was prominent on the UK stage, in the pubs scenes, the theatres covering the jazz festivals, performed by the cream of British jazz bands of the day. The musicianship of this Connecticut septet is therefore unique as it brings to life here in this country of the British Isles, in this century, memories unforgettable, from those far off sunshine days that will enliven the many still around, who I’m sure will be delighted, and want to be enlighten of the existence of this album, an album that recalls vividly the kind of jazz that they so much enjoyed in their youth, as did I.
The individual breaks front line featured opening song, a Red Nichols, Dorsey, Teagarden, Rollini "Five Pennies" 30s favourite, I Want To Be Happy, sets the scene for this album, recorded on the 19th of August 2002, in the Trod Nossel studios, Wallingford, Connecticut, USA, a tune that was a favourite of England’s past very fine trumpeter, Nat Gonella and his Georgians, whose influence of style was of Louis Armstrong, lends support to what I’ve so far written on these very "listen-able" recordings. In his liner notes, Big Bill Bissonnette refers to the style of music as being New Orleans jazz, now known as the "New Orleans Revival" heard play on this album, also, we learn that the musicians were either members of his Easy Riders Jazz Band, or, that they were influenced by it, in one way or another. In this reciting-note, as I think to myself of "what a wonderful world" that it was those years past, I have no favourite tune that stands out among the 20 songs played in this Jam Session, leaving it up to each one for themselves, to read into what that means, but I’m sure that there are tens of tens of thousands here and elsewhere, who would be delighted to have a fine memento of those by gone days, listening to those choice, classic, jazz evergreens, and to achieve that reality they need go-look no further, for it is all here for them to pick up, such as it is played and interpreted by this Connecticut Jam Session septet.
- Ian King
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