LIVE AT RONNIE SCOTT'S - RUE CHAPTAL
RW 138 VOL. 2
REARWARD Release date
LP 180 GRAMS
“Dear John, The sun is shining in San Remo and Spring is in the air.After London, it is doing me a power of good to relax here and think back over the past few weeks. It was a fantastic experience being in your home country with the band. It was great to have made so many new friends; gratifying to strengthen old friendships.The aura of Spring which has surrounded me these past few days intensified dramatically this morning when I read the press reviews which you cent me from England. A great feeling of euphoria carne over me—for I could see that the British had discovered that ‘other thing’ in the band—the new element— and had appreciated its value immediately.I cannot say any more. Do you really think you could be right and that I will never again be able to refer cynically to ‘the seven Clarke Boland fans that exist in the world’? It seems to me that the number has grown quite considerably!See you soon …. So wrote Gigi Campi from San Remo where he was taking a well-earned rest after three strenuous weeks with the Clarke-Boland Band in England. That letter—which cannot be reproduced here in full—is bubbling over with Mediterranean enthusiasm; it is a veritable hymn of praise for Britain, its people, its critics, the friends the band made there.Britain really did give the CBBB its first big chance. It was-the first time that the band had played together for more than five consecutive days.Between February 7 and March 1, making f u l l use of this great opportunity, the band crossed musical frontiers which even we, its biggest fans, had never dreamed would be possible. The two weeks at Ronnie Scott’s Club helped the band achieve a perfect unison, and from this musical community was born a real family, thanks to the spirit, determination and unabating enthusiasm of men like Johnny Griffin, Åke Persson, Derek Humble and Benny Bailey—thanks, in fast, to all the magnificent pioneers who have been with the band—and for the band—since its inception.This mood of indefatigable enthusiasm can clearly be heard in the music the band recorded at Ronnie’s on February 28, 1969. This second “Live from Ronnie’s”album is convincing proof of the musicians’ great togetherness, warmth and dedication.The CBBB repertoire is rich in volume and contract and I count myself as one of the “seven fans” who knows the book well. But when the band is touring or playing in clubs, the musicians prefer to play the best selections from the “traditional chapter” of theband’s book.On this album are numbers from the second set at Scott’s which started at 00.45. The set opens with a number which belongs to jazz history and which was first recorded in France for Charles Delaunay’s Swing label by a group which included Fats Navarro. Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke—”Rue Chaptal”. Francy achieved in this arrangement the effect of a trumpet carousel. The solos of Bailey, Sulieman. Gojkovic and Fisher are connected with solo runs by the saxophone section.The orchestra shows here how deeply its roots are embedded in tradition. and how it can swing.The same awareness of, and feeling for, tradition are demonstrated in the next piece. which is also composed by Clarke, arranged by Boland— “I Don’t Want Nothin’ “.“Sax No End”, a giant hit if ever I heard one, follows. This title was first recorded by the Clarke-Boland Band in June 1967. At that time the Clarke-Boland Sextet was playing at an international exhibition in Barcelona and was due to meet the rest of the band in Cotogne to record one of twelve radio programmes which a pool of eight European radio stations had ordered. Discussions were under way at this time between Gigi Campi and a German record company concerning a record contract for the band and the company was seen to test the market. Meanwhile, over in London, - Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, who had long expressed a wish to record again with his old partner Johnny Griffin. was playing at Ronnie Scott’s.All these elements miraculously merged together. First of all Lockjaw was flown in from London so that he could have his “battle of the tenors” with Johnny Griffin and, at the same time, both men were given adequate opportunity to shine with the band in a solo capacity. The record company urgently wanted the LP, but there was no time for more arrangements to be written and copied. So Gigi Campi put together a repertoire using unrecorded material written for the band and arrangements which Francy had written for other orchestras— ”Griff’s Groove” and “Lockjaw Blues” (two Basie arrangements), “Griff ‘n’ Jaw”“Shihab’s Waltz” and “The Turk”. The last title can also be heard on this album.The title number of that 1967 album was to be “Sax No End”, a piece which Francy had previously developed for a German radio orchestra on the chords of “Chinatown”.Now the wheel has come the full circle. The chain of events which started in Ronnie Scott’s with Lockjaw in 1967, finished in the same club in February 1969 where “Sax No End” was the most vigorously applauded and vociferously acclaimed number in the CBBB repertoire during the two-week stay. In 1967 the saxophone section, after thirty minutes’ rehearsal, recorded the three saxophone ensemble choruses brilliantly and critic Joachim Berendt later wrote: “Wow! This sounds like a swinging saxophone organ!” The second slide of this album begins with a standard, “You Stepped Out of a Dream”, which can also be heard on the “All Smiles” album (Polydor 583 727). The saxophones are in brilliant form here, too. This superb section must surely go down in jazz history as one of the greatest of all time—a real pleasure for all Lunceford and Ellington enthusiasts.It would be natural at this stage to make comparisons between studio and live recordings. It is easy to understand why Gigi Campi was especially happy with the performance of the band at Ronnie Scot t ’s. “It seems to me that everything sounds so clear and free,” he said. “The cool atmosphere of the concert hall, the tension of a festival performance, the coldness of a recording studio—all these hazards are missing. Everything stems from the feeling within the band who no longer need to keep their eyes on the music. And the public—the best in the world—are doing the rest!” Tony Coe, Ronnie Scott and Sahib Shihab (on soprano) shine in the Blues from the “Fellini” Suite. (Incidentally, watch out for the LP Fellini 712 which will be released by Polydor later this year.) Next comes “The Girl and the Turk” from another Boland suite—”The Middle East-East Suite”. The opening by the rhythm section, augmented by Shihab’s tambourine and Griffin’s handclapping, is followed by the march, led in by Kenny Clare, and finally by Benny Bailey’s cadenza. Listening to Benny’s fiery work on the whole album, one can readily understand why he is so often described as the Rock of Gibraltar and the Whip of the Band. Finally comes the finale with Kenny and Kenny, the master and the master pupil .... a triumphant sforzando which had us standing and cheering night after night. The band has stopped playing and is dancing in groups around the two drummers. Like many of the people packed into Ronnie’s each night, we felt that the styles of all the great big bands— Lunceford, Ellington, Basie, Gillespie—had been fused into one by these sixteen superbly swinging musicians. And maybe that is the new thing, the different element which emerged so clearly from that memorable season at Ronnie’s. Let’s hope that the success of the CBBB means that the big bands have come back. And let us also hope, fervently, that this particular big band is very much here to stay.