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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Jazz in New York: The 1930s @ Cadogan Hall, London - September 22

(Review by Russell)
Earlier in the month, BSH's Editor-in-Chief reviewed Pete Long's Echoes of Ellington Orchestra at Cadogan Hall. On Saturday evening Richard Pite's Jazz Repertory Company once again pulled them in at the Sloane Terrace venue. 

The latest in Pite's successful concert series focussed upon late 1930s' New York. On a rain-lashed evening, Cadogan Hall was all-but-damn-it full to the rafters. Concertgoers travelled from all four corners of the globe to go back in time, a time of financial ruin for many yet a time of release from the miserable years of prohibition. From the opening Benny Goodman Quartet in Hotel Pennsylavnia (1937), to Eddie Condon at Nick's Tavern (1937), through to Fats, Hamp, Billie and Duke's small group RCA Victor sides (1937-1939), and finally Louis' 1938 WNEW radio station jam sessions, Pite's all-star band reimagined historic performances by some of the all-time greats.
Anthony Kerr's vibes were centre stage for the opener - Avalon - followed by an ever-changing star cast; Joan Viskant (Bei Mir Bist Du Shoen), a swinging Condon session (guitarist Spats Langham's piston-like rhythmic pulse), Lee Wiley (Sweet and Lowdown) and Mildred Bailey on studio cuts, bassist Dave Chamberlain switching to guitar to play a Hot Fingers' Eddie Lang-Lonnie Johnson duo with Langham, and, with Martin Litton vacating the piano stool, maestro Keith Nichols took us up to the interval by way of Fats Waller and his Rhythm at the Yacht Club.

Anthony Kerr/Lionel Hampton's Hot Mallets (RCA Victor Studios 1938-1939) resumed matters, something of hors-d'oeuvres to Julia Biel's winning interpretation of Billie Holiday's 1938 Cafe Society dates featuring These Foolish ThingsDon't Be That Way and What a Little Moonlight Can Do

One Steinway, two pianists, Messrs Nichols and Litton had some fun on If Dreams Come True as first Litton, then Nichols (theatrically taking off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves as his 'opponent' set up this friendly cutting contest), edged one another off the piano stool in rotation to dazzle a captivated Cadogan Hall. Huge applause ensued...terrific!

The whole band took on the challenge of Ellington's small group sidemen sessions (Litton as Ellington) with first-rate reeds courtesy of Michael McQuaid and Matthias Seuffert, before it was left to narrator Alyn Shipton to ask the question: What could follow that? And, as the familiar voice from Jazz Record Requests said: Louis Armstrong! This was to be trumpeter Enrico Tomasso's moment. As a young boy, Rico met the by then world-famous Armstrong. Fast forward fifty years or so and Armstrong was once again on stage in London thanks to Rico Tomasso's brilliant musicianship. I Got RhythmThe Blues (vocal choruses from Tomasso, Nichols and trombonist Ian Bateman) and Tiger Rag

A thoroughly deserved encore afforded Alyn Shipton the opportunity to not only introduce the members of the orchestra but to join the fun - playing string bass.

The Jazz Repertory Company's next Cadogan Hall engagement - The World Gone Mad - promises 'Jass, Ragtime, Tin Pan Alley and The Blues' from 1899 to 1919'. The date for your diary - Saturday, November 24. 
Russell.
  
The Jazz Repertory Company: Keith Nichols  (piano, vocals); Martin Litton (piano); Enrico Tomasso (trumpet, vocals); Michael McQuaid (tenor & alto saxophone, clarinet); Matthias Seuffert (tenor saxophone, clarinet); Ian Bateman (trombone, vocals); Anthony Kerr (vibes); Tom 'Spats' Langham (guitar, vocals); Dave Chamberlain (double bass, guitar); Richard Pite (drums); Julia Biel (vocals); Joan Viskant (vocals); Alyn Shipton (narrator, double bass).

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