Revivalist and Trad Jazz 2: UK, Oz and Le Continong

Since the revival of classical jazz in the UK was a success it had many fathers. We’ll start with George Webb’s Dixielanders, formed in 1941, who played in pubs in and around London. South: the comments on the youtube suggest the recording to be from 1946/7.

According to the Telegraph (when it was still a respectable paper): “The movement Webb created, which grew steadily in the late 1940s, led directly to the “trad boom” of the late 1950s and early 1960s in which he also played a leading part, first as pianist and bandleader and later as agent and promoter.”

Here they are with Kid Ory’s Muskrat Ramble in around 1948.

Humphrey Lyttelton, trumpeter, newly demobbed Grenadier Guards officer, and fresher art student was soon invited to become a permanent member. In 1948 the Dixielanders folded and Webb joined Lyttelton’s newly-formed band as pianist. Here’s their live 1954 Sister Kate.

Humph’s one chart hit was Bad Penny Blues (1956),with Johnny Parker on piano.

Two “fathers” down, two to go. Context: the prewar flow of visiting American jazzmen was largely halted by the Musicians’ Union. (Boo! BOO!) ‘A.C. Mitchell, the Union’s general organiser … said: “we have had a job with the American jazz bands and if we allow this to continue we shall find the country flooded with American jazz bands again.”’ In those days Australian citizens were automatically British citizens too (the archaic term used was ‘subjects’) and that presumably explains why Graeme Bell’s Dixieland Jazz Band could include Britain on their European tour. Here’s their Panama of 1947.

The astute observer will have remarked that there are Czechoslovakian fingerprints on that record. As Wikipedia explains “1946–1948: The country was governed by a coalition government… 1948–1989: The country became … became a socialist state, a satellite state of the Soviet Union.” So the band took a narrow window of opportunity. After Prague they toured the Continent before basing themselves in London for long enough to be reckoned a seminal influence on the revival. Here they are back in Oz in 1949 with Jelly’s Wolverine Blues.

The fourth “father” Ken Colyer was called by his fans “the guvnor”; he was not an especially good trumpeter but was a pretty good musician. He formed his Crane River Jazz Band in ’49. Here’s their I’m Travelling from ’51.

Colyer decided that there was one way he could learn to play in the original New Orleans style, so he rejoined the Merchant Navy, jumped ship in Mobile, Alabama, and travelled to New Orleans, where he played with his idols in George Lewis’ band. He learnt a lot, he said, from Bunk. Here’s Blame It On the Blues by The Ken Colyer Jazzmen from (probably) 1957.

There’s lots of Ken on youtube, much of it lovely stuff. Here’s his rather touching last recording: Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams recorded in Stockhom in 1986.

13 comments for “Revivalist and Trad Jazz 2: UK, Oz and Le Continong

  1. December 11, 2017 at 02:00

    For what it’s worth, I like Panama, of these, and Wish I Could Shimmy. Something missing in Ken Colyer, but that’s being a bit picky.

  2. December 11, 2017 at 11:46

    Great to see Traditional Jazz getting a mention. The music is still alive and well across the UK and abroad, and my own site at supports the bands that play North & West of the Midlands.

  3. Doug Baker
    December 11, 2017 at 15:19

    Great site reviving -‘The Real Jazz’. I’ve loved this type of jazz for nearly 60 years -still think the same !!

  4. December 11, 2017 at 16:25

    Lovely to hear, chaps, and Dearieme will be pleased that some of us are noting his presentations. Good stuff. I have a post in the wings of today’s bands playing trad but he has a few more first.

  5. Henry Kaye
    December 11, 2017 at 16:59

    Thank you for these little gems! I’m a bit of an oddball I think. I grew up loving trad jazz but somehow – when it started to disappear – I drifted into classical music and I still enjoy a lot of the music composed in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries; but I STILL love trad jazz! I’d love to know the thread that connects these two types of music – am I strange?

    • December 11, 2017 at 17:15

      Some of the recent posts on “elements” part answer that.

    • dearieme
      December 11, 2017 at 17:21

      Much the same for me. Scottish country dance music when small, trad jazz at secondary school (where I was in a minority of two), classical from my new friends at university. Loathe most postwar pop music with the exception of the brief Beatles era (and the very brief Bossa Nova boom).

  6. Norman Gibson
    December 12, 2017 at 12:40

    Henry Kaye is definitely not strange ! It is really possible to enjoy nearly all forms of music, except that weird modern stuff with no real rhythm or swing. Trevor Stent ( ex – Blue Mags ) has proved that with his wide variety at his Fest Jazz Festivals in Brittany. Carlisle JC, Kendal JC and myself, are hosting an exploratory visit, in mid-February ’18, of a trio from the Frog & Henry band. See news Page and OH ! and thanks for Humphs ‘Bad Penny Blues’, a very long favourite, and I used to have enough energy in my 20’s to dance to it !

  7. December 12, 2017 at 12:43

    It’s father Ken Colyer for me and yes, that last recording was rather touching.

  8. Norman Gibson
    December 12, 2017 at 19:47

    Can’t believe that only a whisker over 7000 have viewed that last recording by Ken Collier, on Youtube !!!

  9. Peter Lay
    December 17, 2017 at 12:09

    The Ken Colyer recording in Stockholm, 1986, as a guest with a local band, was not his last recording.
    His last official recording session was with his Jazzmen at the 100 Club, Oxford Street, in late February 1987 for a German company – a CD and DVD are available from Membram Records. There are however, private tapes that have been issued of Ken Colyer recorded, again with a local band, in early June, 1987 – which I believe are still available from Louth Jazz Club, Lincolnshire.

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