The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3011: Sammy Rimington - Watering the Roots

Personnel: Sammy Rimington [cl], Big Bill Bissonnette [tb], Eric Webster [bn], Ken Matthews [sbs], Colin Bowdin [dm]

  Old Fashion Love, In the Good Old Summertime, I'm Alone Because I Love You, Ice Cream, Trouble in Mind, When You and I Were Young Maggie, Indian Love Call, Willie the Weeper, Does Jesus Care?, Lord Let Me In the lifeboat, Lonesome Road, My Wild Irish Rose, Earl Street Blues, Brahm's Cradle Song, Mary Wore A Golden Chain, Royal Telephone.

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3011: Sammy Rimington - Watering the Roots

Jazz - U.S.A.

This happy session is intended as a tribute to George Lewis, Big Jim Robinson, Lawrence Marrero, Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau and Baby Dodds. The revival group is very well chosen for this endeavor as some players actually received lessons from their idols. The CD offers a generous 16 tunes recorded at a venue in Maidstone, England in early 1995. The tunes are carefully selected vehicles for the soloists and represent pieces often performed by the veteran New Orleans musicians being honored. Included are Ice Cream, Lord Let Me In The Lifeboat, Willie The Weeper, Trouble In Mind,Old Fashioned Love and a superb rollicking rendition of Brahm's Cradle Song. The entire performance is an exercise in rompin', stompin' fun and reminds me of the hundreds of evenings I spent at Moose Hall in Montreal, during the 60's listening to the city's own New Orleans revival bands. I often sat-in myself when they were "desperately" short of a drummer, though I found the New Orleans style impossible to master. Drummer Colin Bowden finds no difficulty with the N.O. groove on this recording and he sparkles on Willie the Weeper, When You and I Were Young Maggie and every tune he touches.
Sammy Rimington is flawless and fluent in the clarinet style of GeorgeLewis. Rimington was a mainstay of the great Ken Colyer Jazzband for years. Big Bill Bissonnette took many lessons from Jim Robinson and plays in a gutsy tailgate style though he takes on a delicate muted delivery on tunes like Lonesome Road.
This was my first opportunity to hear the fine banjo of Eric Webster and he sounds like a Crescent City native. Bassist, Ken Matthews, does a fine job representing the beloved "Drag" Pavageau who was one of the real "characters" at Preservation Hall and other venues. "Drag" attracted jazz fans like a magnet and would speak with everyone in his own unique language. "What did he say"? Only a chosen few really knew.
This album is a gem and brought back many fond memories of my youthful enthusiasm for the music of the birthplace of jazz.
- Richard Bourcier

Gene Miller: - Jazz Critic - U.S.A.

For more than 30 years, Big Bill Bissonnette has been recording and playing authentic New Orleans jazz -the music of George Lewis, Jim Robinson, Lawrence Marrero, Slow Drag Pavageau and Baby Dodds. Now, after 30 years, hardly a man survives of that generation of musicians, so anyone who wants to play and record genuine New Orleans jazz must make a choice. He can attempt either a literal recreation of classic performances or he can try to play in their spirit. In this outstanding CD, Bill wisely chose the later.
He assembled an outstanding group of musicians, including Sammy Rimington, one of the very best of the New Orleans-style clarinetists; Eric Webster on banjo, who often sounds just like Guesnon; Ken Matthews on string bass and Colin Bowden on drums. Bissonnette himself is one of the best living New Orleans trombone players. Sarah Bissonnette plays tenor sax on one number, "Does Jesus Care?" This CD really swings, sometimes lightly, sometimes vigorously. But every number swings.
All the musicians do an excellent job, but I liked especially the seemingly effortless collaboration of Rimington and Bissonnette. They have been playing together, off and on, for 30 years, and it shows. They pass the lead back and forth and accompany each other with counter-melodies. Rimington is a lyrical and moving clarinetist, often embroidering but never obscuring the melody. Bissonnette shows that he can play subtly and delicately, often with a mute, as well as with thrilling power. George, Big Jim, Slow Drag, Lawrence & Baby would like this CD.
- Gene Miller

Joe Leheny - Jazz Critic - U.S.A.

The subtitle to this disc is "A tribute to George, Big Jim, Lawrence, Slow Drag & Baby," and this is exactly what the musicians who play on it have attempted to provide. They are not George, Big Jim and the others of course. No one could be. Is there a clarinetist in the world today, though, who brings George Lewis to mind more effortlessly than Sammy Rimington does? For that matter, is there a traditonal jazz clarinetist in the world today who is better than Sammy? For me the answer to both questions has to be, "No."
Bill Bissonnette studied with Jim Robinson, recorded him several rimes in the Sixties, and shows the effect of what he learned from the Master on almost every track of this album. I am unfamiliar with the members of the all-British rhythm section, but I hope to come to know them better in the future. Eric Webster and Ken Matthews provide a solid but unobtrusive beat to drive the band along, and Colin Bowden is a revelation on drums. How long is it since you've heard a New Orleans-style drummer do the kind of exciting rim work that was the trademark of Baby Dodds?! found myself going back to the American Music disc of the original sessions and marveling at how well a drummer of today has recaptured that marvelous style. In "Maggie" Bowden gives an extended and brilliant drum solo which is typical of the solos with which Dodds used to drive Bunk Johnson up the wall. In ensemble work, the smooth interaction between Rimington and Bissonnette reflects how well they know each other through collaborations which reach back more than three decades. I have some minor quibbles, but none important enough to detract at all from heartily recommending this fine album.

Jazz Rag - New Zealand

With this line-up this CD is more than just evocative, it is what this music is all about. Good taste, good dynamics and a moving choice of titles. Nice mix of popular songs from yesterday with a couple of surprises [Brahm's Cradle Song and Wild Irish Rose]. This is tastefully played New Orleans jazz which is laid back, relaxing and full of feeling and I would strongly recommend this CD especially to those who are really into the NO style of music while it may not appeal to those who merely "love trad.' The difference is like comparing a "mini" to a Rolls in the car world. Seventy minutes of suberb playing time. This is value for anyone's money -buy it!
- Terry Offord

West Coast Rag - U. S. A.

Clarinetist Sammy Rimington, one of my favorite living musicians, has a clear sparkling tone, plenty of facility, and a genius for relentlessly swinging, consistently melodic lines that, while clearly indebted to George Lewis, bear a unique Rimington stamp. He is right at home on this 70-minute 1/2/95 quintet session, riding over a hitting-on-all-cylinders British rhythm section of banjoist Eric Webster, string bassist Ken Matthews and drummer Colin JJowden, sharing front-line duties with a frequent colleague over the decades, Yank trombonist Big Bill Bissonnette. (Gritty tenor saxophonist
Both uptown-style New Orleans jazzmen, Rimington's and Bissonnette's ap­proaches couldn't be more different. Sam­my has technique to spare, uses dynamics beautifully, and, even at his most pas­sionate and abandoned, keeps in his gun-sights respect for beauty and for the orig­inal melody. Bissonnette, a pupil of the great Jim Robinson, works from a more limited bag of Big Jim licks, spitting them out in a brash lusty rasping bull-in-a-china-shop blast that elevates muscle over sub­tlety.
Although there were times when I wanted more flexibility and imagination from the sliphorn, the unusual instrumentation gives Rimington plenty of room to operate, a situation that virtually guarantees results. Besides, Rimington and Bisson­nette have been sharing stages since the sixties and know how to make things come together. Between the two of them (that's all you get - only six rhythm section solos among the 16 titles), all the bases are covered in this rugged back-roomy, stick-to-business album. Four stars.

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

On one chilly morning in January 1995, a group of dedicated, experienced, and talented traditional New Orleans jazz players gathered in a studio to pay tribute to some of the giants of that jazz genre, namely clarinet player George Lewis, trombonist Big Jim Robinson, Lawrence Marrero (who played banjo for Lewis), bass player Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau, and drum master Baby Dodds. These five, and those they performed with, make up a sizeable chunk of the history of jazz up to the beginning of the 1930s. And what a tribute this is. Sincerity and love just ooze from the speakers. Big Bill Bissonnette puts on the hat of mentor Robinson. Sammy Rimington's authentic Lorenzo Tio Jr., New Orleans-influenced clarinet wails and plays counter-melodies against Bissonnette's trombone on such magnificent outpourings as "I'm Alone Because I Love You." Then he does a swinging solo on "My Wild Irish Rose" before falling back to counter the trombone. Eric Webster's plucked banjo keeps a propulsive beat on this track and on virtually every other cut. Colin Bowden's drums keep the time going, exploding now and then on such cuts as "Willie the Weeper." A Preservation Hall Jazz Band favorite, "Ice Cream," also favored by New Orleans icon Percy Humphrey, as always is a lot of fun to hear. This album is a reminder of why this jazz style was so popular and to this day continues to be enjoyed by many all over the world, especially in Europe. An album like this effectively pushes aside critics' claim that it's passe and one piece sounds just like any other. Recommended.
- Dave Nathan

Jazz Journal International - British Magazine

The line-up echoes that of the famous American Music record­ings featuring George Lewis and Jim Robinson, and this CD is pre­sented as a tribute to that group of musicians-appropriately enough since Sammy Rimington is probably the closest living clarinettist to George and Colin Bowden stands in a similar rela­tionship to Baby Dodds. Needless to say, the two,of them play as to the manner born in this idiom, and the other two rhythm men are workmanlike. Bill Bissonnette's adoration of Jim Robinson is well known, and he essays his idol's manner with dili­gence and some success, captur­ing that out-of-tuneness which sometimes marred Big Jim's work. Sammy, in par­ticular, is playing so beautifully. Bill Bissonnette has done much good in the promotion of latter-day New Orleans music, and in that context his trombone playing has, in the past, been acceptable if limited.
- Christopher Hillman

Jazz Journal International - British Magazine [2nd review]

This is volume three of a series on Bissonnette's own label, present­ing recordings of UK musicians selected by Bissonnette who play in the basic purist New Orleans style. Like a 1965 Bissonnette album (which also included Rimington, and Jim Robinson himself on trombone), this release seeks to recreate the sound of Robinson's 1944 record­ings for the American Music label. Finest of these was a trum-petless version of Ice Cream, a classic example of New Orleans ensemble playing at its most joy­ous and exciting. Bill reveals that Robinson, perhaps understand­ably, declined to play this tune on the 1965 recording. The recre­ation on this album, though inevitably inferior to the original, is nevertheless a very creditable performance, and the best track on the album. Bill himself has my full respect as a doughty cham­pion of authentic New Orleans style jazz, but I must confess that his playing is too rough and prim­itive for my ears. He boots along forcefully but it's a very bumpy ride in places. His muted work on Indian Love Call and Lonesome Road was on the whole more effective. His limitations are fully exposed by the two-piece front line format, and the album needed a Bunk Johnson to com­plement the roles of Lewis, Robinson, Slow Drag, Marrero and Dodds performed by the other musicians. The rhythm sec­tion swings well, exactly in the idiom, with Bowden the obvious choice on drums. However, it is Sammy's album all the way. He is tirelessly creative, capturing (where other Lewis disciples fail) not only the general shape of Lewis's phrasing, but more importantly the sheer spiritual energy and expressive power. He is admirable on a well-inten­tioned but otherwise undistin­guished album.
- Hugh Rainey

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