The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3087: Jack McLaughlin plays Eb Clarinet - "If We Never Meet Again This Side of Heaven"

Personnel: Jack McLaughlin [Eb clarinet], John van Buren [banjo], Rachel Hamilton [piano], Tom Rowell [sousaphone], Gavin Anderson [guitar]

Songs: If We Never Meet Again This Side of Heaven, Flee As A Bird/Nearer My God to Thee/ Pleyel's Hymn, If Ever I Cease to Love, Just As I Am, Oh Didn't He Ramble, When I Move to the Sky, Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet, Shall We Gather at the River, Scatterbrain, Whistling Rufus, Ice Cream, There'll Be A Hot Time In Old Town Tonight, Shuffle Off to Buffalo, Plastic Jesus, Let the Great Big World Keep Turning, I Like Bananas, Smokey Mokes

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3087: Jack McLaughlin plays Eb Clarinet - "If We Never Meet Again This Side of Heaven"

JazzReview.com - Internet Publication

Jack McLaughlin is an Australian jazz clarinetist steeped in the history of a bygone era. A jazz purist by nature, McLaughlin follows a less traveled path and, though influenced by George Lewis, plays the music much as it would have been played by Louisiana parlor groups of seventy years ago. The focus of this release is split between the music and the vintage instrument being played. On a visit to Germany, Jack met clarinetist, Eberhard Kraut, and became fascinated by his collection of historical instruments. Of special interest was Kraut's rare metal Albert system clarinet. The metal clarinets came into use in the middle of the 19th century and were designed for use by the military in all weather conditions. With the help of the German collector, a metal instrument was found on the British market and McLaughlin became the new owner. The Australian musician is not the first to be infatuated by the vintage metal Alberts. George Lewis owned one for a number of years but returned to the ebony axe in the late 1940s. Today it is the clarinet of choice for Britain's Brian Carrick and the Danish jazz star, Kjeld Brandt.
Jack McLaughlin and the Oz band appeared recently in New Orleans at the 2003 French Quarter Festival , performing at the Continental Airlines International Stage on Bourbon Street. Jack and his group also played a couple of days at Fritzel's where traditional Crescent City jazz is king.
The McLaughlin attack differs from many other players on the current scene. Jack plays every bit of the tune. He even plays the verse to the 1928 hit, Ice Cream . I've heard that old warhorse a hundred times and was unaware that a verse existed. He drags other gems out of retirement too. An ancient Hoosier Hot Shots tune shows up in the form of I Like Bananas (because they have no bones) and gets the McLaughlin treatment. This CD is a collection of traditional New Orleans fare including spirituals, marches, pop songs and novelty pieces. One tune in particular will stick in your head for a week. Originally a radio jingle for WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia the melody resurfaced about 1975 as an irreverent but amusing Plastic Jesus . Embraced by the drug culture, the tune gathered a cult following.
Jack McLaughlin's third CD shows his dedication and love of the music. Sound samples are available at the Jazz Crusade website. If you would like to know more about the rare metal clarinets, I encourage you to read Eberhard Kraut's fine article . McLaughlin and his instrument were written-up recently in the publication Mississippi Rag.
- Richard Bourcier


Cadence Magazine - U. S. A.

This is a different animal. Recorded in Australia it sounds a lot like something actually recorded in the 20's, not the least because of Jack McLaughlin's instrument of choice, a rare metal E flat clarinet which produces a shrill, piping tone that's both eerie and instantly memorable. It sounds like something you'd hear at a funeral which may explain why there are so many funeral hymns here. With banjo and sousaphone lurching along behind, this almost sounds like a Salvation Army band.
This music may sound creaky and old-fashioned but it is still arrestingly lovely. Gavin Anderson sings two hymns, "When I Move To The Sky" and the title track beautifully. Relatively uptempo pieces like "Scatterbrain" and "There'll Be A Hot Time" perpetuate the antique charm of the set. Compared to the work of the real musical giants of the 20's this doesn't sound like much. Put Sidney Bechet or Louis Armstrong on this same set of tunes and they would blow this group away. Nevertheless this group's sound carries a fragile sweetness that lingers in your head long after you've played the CD. This is something beyond the usual traditional Jazz set.
- Jerome Wilson


Mississippi Rag—U. S. Jazz magazine

The problem with this CD is that I have trouble imagining who would buy it and listen to it more than once. Not because it is bad - it's just very peculiar. It features Australian reedman Jack McLaughlin playing a simple system (jazz fans would say "Albert system," probably) metal Eb clarinet and recounting as literally as possible music associated with New Orleans brass bands and jazz, with a rhythm quintet something like a banjo band. His cohorts are Rachel Hamilton, piano; John van Buuren, tenor banjo; Tom Rowell, sousaphone; and Gavin Anderson, guitar and vocals.
McLaughlin plays the little Eb clarinet as it was commonly wielded for parades in New Orleans. Its tone is thin, reedy and flutelike, and McLaughlin's playing was admittedly shaped by George Lewis's infectious style. The only jazz player I know of who specialized in the Eb horn and made it his own was Odell Rand of the Harlem Hamfats. He was what is now known as a "little person," and I suspect his choice of the horn was as much visual as aural -the tiny instrument in scale with the tiny player! Otherwise, it is hard to know why someone would play the horn except in a brass band, to cut through the sound of bigger, louder horns.
McLaughlin plays straight from the score or from ear the numbers here, without much adornment or attempt to create original variations and swinging drive. The whole band is rhythm-deficient, and a drummer might have been a major help. As an archaeological "document," the CD succeeds because of the finicky attention to detail: we hear (repeatedly) the verse of "Ice Cream"! We hear the Carnival anthem "If Ever I Cease to Love" as it might have sounded in 1875, without syncopation or swing! We hear the gospel number Bunk Johnson once essayed, "When I Move to the Sky," in its rare, churchy 12/8 time! We hear "Didn't He Ramble" in 6/8 time!
As I said, this is an odd CD. The only numbers that really sit up and swing are two anomalies, given the context - the 1939 pop-swing hit "Scat-terbrain" (by Johnny Burke and Harold Spina} and the semi-folk comic commentary "Plastic Jesus" from 1964 (by Ernie Marrs, Ed Rush and George Cromarty or some combination thereof). It's as if McLaughlin can only play the early-jazz-associated numbers with a petrifying reverence (and at quite low tempos), but for these cheap pop-radio numbers, he doffs his halo and plays with exuberant energy.
Alas, the older tunes are of documentary interest but not very musical, and extracting the Eb clarinet from its brass band context seems quixotic. If you are deeply infatuated with a purist approach to New Orleans jazz and to sheer old-timey-ness for its own sake, this CD may twang your heartstrings, otherwise it's not musical enough to carry itself from head to heart.
- William J. Schafer


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