Personnel: Big Bill Bissonnette [trombone/vocal], Sammy Rimington [reeds/vocal], Papa Joe Errington [trumpet], Peter Nissen [drums/leader], Leif Madsen [reeds], Torben Kjar [piano], Henrik Stiigvad [banjo], Kjeld Reenberg [string bass], Lise Borgwardt [vocal]
Songs: Lord Lord Lord, What A Friend We Have In Jesus, Old Time Religion,Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, Lead Me Saviour, His Eye Is On the Sparrow, This Little Light of Mine, Walking with the King, Old Fashion Love, Tipi-Tipi-Tin, Summertime, The Man I Love, Yes Sir! That’s My Baby
JCCD-3127: ENCORE! - Big Bill & Sammy -
A Vesper’s Service & Jazz Concert In Denmark
Just Jazz—British Jazz Magazine
Big Bill and Sammy toured Denmark with Peter Nissen's excellent band in 1993, and along the way made a number of very exciting live recordings. This is one of them. The keynote to them all is that they have an amazingly relaxed feel and an infectious 'bounce' rhythm on most tracks that I've only previously heard created by the very best of Ken Colyer's bands and those of George Lewis. Here, all the participants are audibly restrained by the religious environment, but the heat and excitement are somehow heightened by that restraint.
The George Lewis Band in their famous - classic now - Vespers church concerts achieved the same magical, almost other-worldly, appeal. It's visceral and intellectual at the same time - multi-level communication if you like, and unique to a very few jazzmen and, to my mind, quite magical. Something of that chemistry comes over here, and that's in no small way due to the major contributions of Sammy on reeds and Big Bill's growling trombone. Also highly noteworthy are the superbly hot and soulful trumpet of Papa Joe Errington and the driving piano of Torben Kjaer. This is very fine, happy, foot-tapping New Orleans jazz as its best - you need to hear it.
IAJRC Journal—International jazz publication
[International Association of Jazz Record Collectors]
While on a Scandinavian tour in the fall of 1993, Bissonnette, Rimington and Nissen's band were recorded at this Vesper's service at a Danish church. While many such concerts can be fairly tedious due to the sameness of tempo, structure and patterns in most spirituals and gospel tunes, this one is well-paced. The repertoire is predictable (although the last part of the service apparently gave way to more secular repertoire), but the treatments of the tunes contain much variety.
The band led by Nissen was a working unit at the time specializing in commercial music, presumably of the swing/Dixieland variety. Nissen points out in the notes that he did not feel especially comfortable performing in a concert setting, as it was not part of the band's usual routine. Nevertheless, the presentation works well, perhaps because the band acts primarily as a backdrop for the two guests. The recording quality is excellent, with very good balance and separation. Bissonette, whose Jazz Crusade label released this concert is a Connecticut native who formed the Easy Riders' Jazz Band in the 1960's and launched his record label shortly afterwards. Dedicated to the style of New Orleans Jazz represented by George Lewis and performers active in the so-called revival period of the 1950's and 60's, Bissonette employed many Crescent City musicians ranging from the legendary to the deservedly obscure. Active primarily as a trombonist whose playing was modeled on Jim Robinson's style, Bissonette has also recorded on drums during his long career. While specializing in his instrument's ensemble role, he is here featured on good solos on Yes Sir, That's My Baby and Lead Me Saviour as well as taking a lusty vocal on Lord, Lord, Lord.
Rimington was bom in London and by his late teens was playing clarinet with the British traditional Jazz bands of Barry Martyn and Ken Colyer. In the 1960's he began spending much of his time in America, frequently playing with Bill Bissonette's groups and eventually touring as a soloist. Rimington's range is demonstrated on this concert by his echoes of George Lewis on the spirituals and a more sophisticated style of alto saxophone playing on Summertime and especially The Man I Love.
The band led by Nissen is a competent organization featuring several players who were apparently not traditionalists. Trumpeter Errington is obviously more enamored of the swing style, but plays a fine lead as well as taking perhaps the best solos on the disc (hear, for example, His Eye is on the Sparrow and Old Fashioned Love). Pianist Kjaer is, according to the notes, a bebop player, although he clearly doesn't let any bop stereotypes inform his playing here. He has no outstanding solo features (although his effort on What A Friend We Have In Jesus is very good), but his work in the rhythm section and his vocal accompaniments are excellent. Clarinetist Madsen has relatively little to do, although he takes some capable solos on This Little Light Of Mine and His Eye is on the Sparrow. The several clarinet duets between him and Rimington are also very good. The rest of the rhythm section is competent without being terribly inspired - one can imagine if they were used to the swing repertoire that this extended diet of spirituals might have seemed like pretty tame stuff. Singer Borgwardt has a pleasant voice and an obvious affinity for the gospel style, although her mannerisms have more to do with Aretha than Mahalia. She also has the unfortunate tendency of singing every chorus as if it were the last chorus of the last tune of the last set - starting out at a rollling boil and leaving very little room for subtleties or development. On the plus side, the performances included on this disc
benefit by a measure of restraint that I feel is lacking on so many live concert recordings The longest numbers here are four of the last five selections (from the non-religious part of the concert, interestingly enough) and the longest of these is only seven and a half minutes. The spirituals average about five minutes and are compact and well-paced, with not every musician soloing on every tune; the solos generally lasting either a single chorus or less. Who was responsible for this editorial decision I don't know, but give him a medal. One of the great things about early New Orleans Jazz recordings is the incredible concentration of musical elements in a short duration (consider the Chicago discographies of Oliver, Morton and Armstrong). Granted, the three minute time limit of early recording technology had something to do with that kind of control, but even later performances by musicians of the earlier generation tended to preserve that economy to a much greater degree than did the revivalists and their followers.
Boxell’s Jazz Website—New Zealand
I enjoyed the previous Peter Nissen CD & I was delighted to find another CD of his on Jazz Crusade’s label. The fact that it also featured Big Bill Bissonnette & Sammy Rimington made it into a must have. The frontline, however, is more conventional than that on the CD with Tuba Fats, with just Leif Madsen and Sammy Rimington on reeds. Joining them and Nissen’s solid backline, is Joe Errington on trumpet and B3, of course, on trombone.
The two reedsmen do an excellent job together, so there is interweaving rather than clashing and tangling. Sometimes they are both on either clarinet or alto sax, sometimes one on each. Two tracks where their harmony show up very clearly are ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ and ‘Old fashioned Love’.
B3 I always enjoy listening to as he can easily move from raucous to silky smooth in the slide of a trombone. ‘Papa’ Joe Errington on first hearing caused my right eyebrow to rise at times, though he also made me chuckle with delight elsewhere. However, the more I play the CD, the more I appreciate his playing, especially his mute work.
The tracks are from a 1993 tour of Denmark and recorded at Roskilde (a place I know & love). The first 8 tracks are from a church service & are all standard jazz gospel numbers. The remaining 5 tracks are from the following concert. Despite my love of gospel songs I must admit it is the latter that caught my ear as the rendition of ‘Summertime’ must be just how the composer intended it to be. B3 takes the intro and the rest follow on in the same lazy, hazy, almost dreamy tone & if that ain’t summertime, then you must live in the Antarctic! The next track, ‘The Man I Love’ is just as wonderful with Lise Borgwardt shewing on this, and her other tracks (*), what a fine jazz singer she is. This lady has the type of voice that is best suited to traditional jazz in all its shapes & forms: full, well rounded, emotive and carefully inflected.
I am sure my wife wonders why I keep getting more & more jazz CDs, especially as I often complain how little I get to play them at present, but how can one resist when there are albums like this one just waiting to be got? The truth is, I would have had this CD for ‘just the ‘Summertime’ track alone.
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