STOMPING AND SKIP JIVING SOON TO RETURN?
Norman Warwick reads Alan Lawless to remind him of live jazz
Alan Lawless once reminded readers of all across the arts in the UK that Rochdale Jazz Club on Dixon Street, (check http://jazznorthwest.co.uk/rochdale.htm?i=1) had something of a tradition of ringing in the New Year of their Jazz On A Sunday sessions by inviting The Tame Valley Stompers to brush out the old and sweep in the new.
As Jazz On A Sunday invite ´only good bands and better bands´ to play at the club, a gig so early in a new year is quite a feather in any stomper´s cap, but the band invariably shows itself to be deserving of the accolade. This year was no exception as they delivered a ´trad jazz set´ that somehow included novelty songs and sing-along items.
There were, though, songs long established in the band´s repertoire, and these included Bourbon Street Parade and Basin Street Stomp, (where you could hear the Stevedore Stomp, too) and their blues were drawn from Chimes and St. James Infirmary, where Doctor Jazz was on call.
The Tame Valley Stompers infuse some surprising ingredients into the deliveries, however, and tonight there were forays into the Carribean cookbook with The Martinique and Dardanella, even as Christopher Columbus was sailing around, seeking to lay claim.
There were sounds of Skiffle, too, with nods to Tight Like That and Puttin´ On The Style with its Donegon echoes, and Mama Don´t Allow, a song also celebrated on rock and roll records and in the wheat fields of country music. My particular favourite version was a wonderful chug a chug guitar led version by J J Cale, (check https://www.jjcale.com )
Of course Doc Watson performed an incredible version and there is even a You Tube of a performance by Johnny Cash and friends. Pokey La Farge plays the song at his back stage parties.
Mama Don´t Allow was also employed as a title of a short documentary made about Chris Barber and his Band in 1956. The band were filmed with Ottilie Patterson in a north London trad jazz club, playing front of a skip jiving audience.
Ottilie was a Northern Irish blues singer best known for her performances and recordings with the Chris Barber Jazz Band in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Skip-jiving was (according to http://howtojive.com/intro-skip-jive.htm) a uniquely British part of the international revival of interest in traditional (New Orleans) jazz music at the end of the nineteen forties and early fifties. Skip-jiving put a literally skipping version of New Orleans rhythm into basic Jitterbug patterns. It was obscured for a while during the mid-fifties by the rise of Rock’n’Roll Jitterbug-Jive but then came back in a big way as Rock’n’Roll faltered at the end of the decade. This return was tied closely to the rise of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament whose activities created many opportunities for traditional jazz bands to play and thus opportunities to dance. Some films were made which featured this dance, such as Ring-a-Ding Rhythm, but the dancing was by studio hacks rather than experts. There are still regular weekenders, where skip-jive enthusiasts get together to stomp to the original music.
A documentary of The Chris Barber band performance was all co-directed by Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson and filmed by Walter Lassally. It was produced by the British Film Institute Experimental Film Fund. It was first shown as part of the first Free cinema programme at the National Film Theatre in February 1956.
Mama Don´t Allow has also even served as the title of a vibrant picture book, designed for children and described as “ebullient, fast-paced, and funny.” The book was A Reading Rainbow Featured Selection Children’s Books of 1984, and won the 1985 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Illustration.
The book tells the story of ´saxophone-playing Miles and his Swamp Band, who find a bevy of sharp-toothed, long-tailed alligators who love to listen to their music. But little do Miles and his band know what the alligators plan for them at the close of their jubilant all-night ball! Inspired by a traditional song, Mama Don´t Allow was written by Thatcher Hurd.
The song on which the book is based however is generally said to have been composed by ´traditional´, who has written a lot of other good stuff, too,
Back at Jazz On A Sunday there were songs the audiences could sing-along to, including When Somebody Thinks You´re Wonderful, Nobody´s Sweetheart Now and the infectious Porter´s Love Song To a Chamber-Maid.
On the other hand, We May Be Old was surely written for The Tame Valley Stompers or even by The Tame Valley Stompers or both !
There´s life in them yet, though, as was proved by Paul´s wonderful clarinet solo in St. Phillip Street Breakdown and the band´s great performance of the closing number, Royal Telephone Line, which had a Have I Got News For You Feel given the chats going on at the time down at Buckingham Palace.
The Tame Valley Stompers are led by from ´the best seat in the house´ by drummer Norman Pennington, with Trevor Brunbt on trombone and Roger Wimpenny on trumpet. Paul Broomhead plays reeds and John Gordon handles banjo and guitar duties, with Pete Smith on bass. You can find tons of further information about them at http://www.tamevalleystompers.co.uk/ where you will find a comprehensive biography, full tour dates and itineraries and plenty of other sign-posts and signals to new discoveries. You will even find how to order their CD Everybody Loves A Saturday Night.
Jazz On A Sunday has a healthy on line presence of mentions by xxx Rochdale On-Line, The Rochdale Observer, all across the arts, and here on our Sidetracks and Detours we will be featuring an interview with the club´s organiser Tony Sheridan and a selection from the back catalogue of reviews by Alan Lawless.
Those of you who wish to submit reviews of their own of their favourite kind of music, be it jazz, rap, pop, classical or calypso should send your offerings to my e mail address of email@example.com All work published will be fully attributed.