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This is Jazz Volume 1.

One of the famed "Lansdowne Jazz Series" issued on the Columbia label (33 SX 1220) and now hard to come by and quite expensive in good condition. The line-up is Ken Colyer (trumpet), Mac Duncan (trombone), Ian Wheeler (clarinet), Ray Foxley (piano), Johnny Bastable (banjo), Ron Ward (bass) and Colin Bowden (drums) and the session was recorded in London on 22, 23 and 29 September, 1959.
The 12 tracks are Sweet Fields; Hilarity Rag; Riverside Blues; Salutation March; Papa Dip; Cheek; Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen; Dusty Rag; Working Man Blues; At A Georgia Camp Meeting; Heebie Jeebies; Somebody Stole My Gal.

The sleeve notes were written by James Asman.
I first met Ken Colyer in the winter of 1949 after I had finished a record recital on Bunk Johnson at the No. 1 Rhythm Club in Windmill Street, Piccadilly Circus. Over a beer and a rolled, brown-papered cigarette we congratulated each other on our mutual love of New Orleans music - and, before we parted, I was invited to hear a new revivalist jazz band called the Crane River Jazz Band.
That, although I didn't know it at the time, was the beginning of the Ken Colyer story. The band, which played and rehearsed at the 'White Hart' at Cranford on the main highway to London Airport, portrayed the original music of New Orleans with unusual sympathy and vigour and the horn of Colyer, the leader and inspirational fountain head, held a ferocity and fire quite unexpected in a British musician.
Ken was born on 18th April 1928 in Great Yarmouth, where the salt tang of the Norfolk coastline must have given him a love of the sea. His parents, working in service, took him around England until, in 1939, they settled in Cranford. His brother Bill had already been bitten hard by the jazz bug and Ken heard for the first time the kind of music he would eventually dedicate his life to.
For seven years he listened, and began a self-taught musical education first on the harmonica, then the guitar-and, finally, the trumpet. During the jazz revival brought to life by George Webb's Dixielanders he was at sea, working as a cabin boy in the Merchant Navy and practising on his horn every moment he could spare.
He came ashore in 1949, an immature musician but one who possessed both imagination and virility, a combination well suited to New Orleans-styled playing. Behind a typically dour front Ken hid a personal sensitivity. Off the stand his rough tongue and uncompromising opinion upset the critics - but his sincerity as a front line leader was never in doubt. This sincerity, coupled with a deep appreciation of the basic elements of early Crescent City jazz, brought him face to face with his first rebuttal of commercial infiltration into the music he loved and lived for. Early in 1952 he walked out of the Christie Brothers Stompers and rejoined the Merchant Navy. His ambition to visit New Orleans led him through both hardship and real adventure and he arrived there during the winter, playing, recording and studying for several months. He was arrested for over-staying his visa and spent six weeks in New Orleans Parish Prison in the company of convicted criminals of every kind and colour.
He returned to Britain in the summer of 1953, to be greeted by a new band already formed for him by his brother Bill and, for a year only, their appearances and recordings were sensational. Ken's belief in the kind of music he wanted to play had been strengthened by the experiences he had undergone in New Orleans and once again he turned his back on popular success. He walked out of the group, which, with Pat Halcox replacing Colyer, became an outstanding commercial hit.
With few personnel changes Ken Colyer's new band continued his old, forthright policy. He was, however, continually dissatisfied with his recordings, maintaining that record companies had little sympathy with the problems of balancing such an uncompromising jazz unit. His newly formed association with the recording experts and studios at Lansdowne House promises a new era in the Ken Colyer story-for the whole band comes to life on these tracks.
The unstinted work and experience which produces the artist, the integrity and realism which bring power to his music - all these qualities are present in this exciting album. For, with no compromise of any kind, This is Ken Colyer.

This is Jazz Volume 2.

Volume 2 of "This is Jazz" in the Lansdowne Series (SCX 3360). Although there have been re-issues, this is still a scarce record and is highly priced in the second-hand market. By now (1960) there had been some significant changes in the front line of the band, Sammy Rimington is on clarinet and Graham Stewart is on trombone, Recorded in London on 22, 23 and 25 August, 1960.
The tracks are, South; Mabel's Dream; When I Grow Too Old To Dream; Blaanche Touquatoux; When I Leave The World Behind; Savoy Blues; Ballin'The Jack; Sweet Sue, Just You; Sweet Lorraine; Gonns Get Along Without Ya Now; There'll Come Another Day; Get Out Of Here And Go On Home.

Again, James Asman wrote the sleeve notes.
New Orleans, straddling the swampy bottom lands of the Mississippi delta in a crescent of docks and river-fronts, is a city which wages a constant battle with the channels, bayous, lakes and marshes which threaten its foundations. Cemeteries, their coffins raised high in stone monuments; intricate ironwork lacing the low-flung balconies along the streets in the French Quarter; the significance of Congo Square lying north of the Vieux Carre near a ships' basin which ran from Rampart Street to Lake Pontchartrain; and the wreck of Longshoremen's Hall in uptown New Orleans where the Negro population reverted, at midnight, to their own musics - this is the cradle of jazz itself.
From the African chants and dances of the slaves in Congo Square to a sophisticated recreation of a white man's songs, the history, conventions and prejudices of New Orleans played their part in moulding a new and original conception of popular music. From the hot streets was born the bright, swinging sound of a Negro brass band, taking its cue from contemporary German bands and adding its own rhythms, improvisations and language. From the bawdy-houses and chippies' cubicles came the jangle of a jazzy, ragtime piano, while the rolling Blues changed the mood as the hour grew late.
But it was in the dance halls, late in the 19th century, that the impact of this early jazz style had its greatest effect. The younger generation of Negro musicians provided a loud, raucous dance music for several of the saloons and dance halls and by 1900 such pioneer jazzmen as Bunk Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton and Alphonse Picou were playing - the Negroes with their fierce rough-and-ready improvisations vying with the white-styled and academically trained Creoles and gradually gaining the ascendant.
The reign of the notorious Storyville, the wide-open vice spot of New Orleans, gave real encouragement to these jazz bands, with spots to work in and plenty of easy money to spend. When Storyville was closed in 1917 by government decree, this musical innovation had gained enormous impetus, its reputation among musicians spreading along the river boats, railroads and by-ways of the South. The mass musical exodus which took place in 1917 emphasised this broadening influence as such leading jazz exponents as Freddie Keppard, Joe Oliver, Morton, Edward Kid Ory and the Dodds brothers brought their music to the North, to Chicago, New York and even as far as San Francisco on the West Coast.
The importance of this early jazz conception and the folk roots whence it sprang has always been of paramount importance to Ken Colyer. Through his various groups he has sought, both as a personal expression and as a sincere token of respect, to follow the musical path trodden by these great Negro jazz innovators. His stay in New Orleans in 1953 added materially to his knowledge and appreciation. Since then he has fronted several groups of musicians, always disregarding the more obvious advantages of commercial success for the subtler rewards of pure musical achievement.
This album is a culmination of one man's wholehearted dedication to an original and vital music. Some of the titles underline the role of jazz as a musical language, as a way of playing rather than as an historical sequence of "evergreens". When I Grow To Old To Dream is a particular example of how popular songs can be completely revitalised by the musical patterns of old New Orleans. Yet Ken Colyer does not neglect the fine old tunes beloved of Oliver, Ory, Louis Armstrong, Morton and Jimmie Noone - numbers like Mabel's Dream, Savoy Blues and Ballin' The Jack have a familiar to record collectors. The treatment which the Ken Colyer Jazzmen give in each case is personal and refreshing. The band, sensitive to the native ingredients born in the rough and raucous New Orleans dance halls, adopt the strong four-beat rhythms and the three voiced harmonies and improvisations of the accepted Crescent City front-line. It has added to this logical basis a new note of individuality and adventure.
The second volume of Ken Colyer's This Is Jazz is even better than the first - and that is as it should be, for Ken has never retreated musically. Not only because of the historical significance and reality of pioneer jazz, but also because of the integrity and sincerity of this unique British band and its uncompromising trumpet lead, this, once again, IS jazz .....

New Orleans to London.

Although this, the first recording for Decca by Ken Colyer's Jazzmen, has been re-issued by Lake Records as a CD, it remains a desirable record for collectors. Ken Colyer (trumpet), Chris Barber (trombone), Monty Sunshine (clarinet), Tony "Lonnie" Donnegan (banjo), Jim Bray (bass) and Ron Bowden (drums) made this recording in London on 2 September, 1953.
The tracks are Goin' Home; Isle Of Capri; Harlem Rag; La Harpe Street Blues; Stockyard Strut; Cataract Rag; Early Hours; Too Busy.

Back to the Delta.

This 10" LP was initailly issued in the UK on the Decca label and only later on the London label in the United States. The two records were always thought to be identical until many years later when Mac Robinson made a sensational discovery. This is his Story.
"The discovery of this session was one of those magical happenings that collectors dream about. Whilst living in the U.S.A. I bought what I thought was a spare copy of the Back to the Delta LP. Apart from its being on the London label, the sleeve and record appeared identical to the well-known Decca album. The LP stood on a shelf unplayed for months, until one day I put it on the turntable and could not believe my ears. The six band tracks were totally different from the well-known versions; not merely different takes, but clearly a different session. Sharing the mystery with Mickey Ashman some time later, Mickey came up with the answer: the "new" band tracks had been cut at the June session, when the skiffle tracks were made. They had been deemed unsatisfactory and were shelved. As we know, the six band tracks were re-made in September and - with the three June skiffle tracks formed the basis for Decca's Back to the Delta album. Moreover, while the June band tracks featured the same front line as the September session, the back line was totally different: Mickey for Dick Smith, John Bastable for Diz, and Eric Skinner for Stan Greig. How this shelved session ever came to be issued in the States will probably remain forever a mystery.
Although it is fairly easy to obtain a copy of the Decca version, the London LP is quite rare and much sought after.
Each record has identical skiffle tracks; Midnight Special; Casey Jones and K C Moan with Ken Colyer (guitar and vocals), Alexis Korner (guitar and mandolin), Bill Colyer (washboard) and Mickey Ashman (bass).
Whilst each has the same six band numbers Sing On; Lord, Lord, Lord; Faraway Blues; Moose March; Saturday Night Function and Shim-me-sha-wabble, the London tracks were recorded on 10 September, 1954, with Ken Colyer (trumpet), Ed O'Donnel (trombone), Bernard 'Acker' Bilk (clarinet), Dick Smith (bass) Diz Disley (banjo) and Staan Greig (drums), and the London tracks on 25 June, 1954 with the same front line and Mickey Ashman (Bass), Johnny Bastable (banjo) and Eric Skinner (drums).

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