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Debate for the TRAD MAD
By THE EDITOR
HOLDING THAT TIGER...a CENTURY ON
Tiger Rag is one of the oldest and most recorded numbers in jazz history, we're told by the historians, yet even now, nearly a hundred years on, modern musicians are finding original and eccentric ways to play this evergreen classic. The thought was prompted by super-trombonist Mike Owen's rendition of it at the end of our recent gig by Baby Jools' Jazzaholics in which he operated the slide section of his instrument with his foot. Yes, you've read that right. His foot... That might sound slightly potty but no dafter than Terry Williams, Millennium Eagle's trombonist, who makes the appropriate sound effect with...a roll of sellotape. Yes, you've read that correctly, too. A roll of sellotape, held up close to the microphone as he tears a strip of it in the appropriate place after the 'hold that Tiger' refrain. Heaven knows how many interpretations there have been of it since Nick La Rocca's Original Dixieland Jass Band (that's how they spelled our 'jazz' then) launched the tune to the public with its first recording in 1917... or what he would have thought of it had they known that in 2015 one musician would play it using a foot and another with a roll of sticky tape. There's musical progress for you...great fun, too: Mike never puts a foot wrong. And Terry never gets stuck.
Pictures Terry Thomas: Mike Owens (left) & Terry Williams
'Keep coming as often as possible. Jazz NEEDS you.'
The loss of the Rich Bennett band from the club circuit, especially in such tragic circumstances, is a reminder of the fine line that some of these outfits have to tread in terms of filling as many dates as possible on their diary while also travelling sometimes long distances and getting all their musicians at each venue in good time every time.
The situation coincides with another of the leading bands, Gambit, publicly expressing difficulties related to the same basis, namely that of needing to get 'a full team out' , sometimes at short notice, while also securing enough gigs to make the exercise worthwhile and the effort that has to go into it.
In the September issue of JUST JAZZ magazine, Gambit leader and drummer, Pete Lay, who is also the publication's editor, has written on the topic and says:"Any sane person would fold the band and put his feet up..." This is his response to an observations in the July issue in which, apparently, under the heading of 'Who's in MY band? Jim McIntosh drew attention to the number, and quality, of 'deps' that bands have to use when regular members are not available.
Explaining how he has lost the services of several top players in the last five years for various reasons - including Dave Waskett (cornet), clarinettist Johnny Rodgers, Chris Marney (banjo), and trombonist Barry Weston - Pete Lay adds: "A band is built on its reputation of a regular line-up and more importantly its repertoire. We were proud to have nearly 600 tunes in our book but because of constant changes this has been whittled down...but if promotors want me to put a band together under the Gambit heading, I'll be happy to do so."
Here at Sutton Coldfield Trad Jazz Club we are blessed with a number of high-calibre, popular instrumentalits who seem ready and willing to 'dep' as often as possible when bands find themselves short of one of their regulars... but the important message to all our 'members' is to keep coming as often as possible.
LIve Jazz Needs you.
RUSSELL BENNETT: The space that will never be filled...
The dreadul news that Russ Bennett has died from a brain haemorrage left all jazz lovers who have experienced his trombone skill and extrovert nature, in a state of shock...and the jazz scene at large with an empty space that will never again be quite filled.
Only five days earlier Rich's brother and band leader, Rich, had telephoned to cancel their date with us on December 9 because the Rich Bennett Band was disbanding 'after their next two gigs'. Now Rich and his 'jazz elder' father, Martin and family are left mourning their tragic loss.
Martin's brief message on Facebook read:"Russell Bennett died on Saturday evening at 6 pm. Funeral arrangements later. Devastating."
Messages of condolence quickly followed. At SCTJC there will remain a huge feeling of sadness at the memory of this exuberant musician. The rogue-ish Russ (below) had the family's inbred 'feel' for jazz music along with the most extrovert of cheerful personalities. He allied this to an awareness that he was an entertainer in the widest sense as demonstrated by his contrived 'country yokel' style back-chat and occasional lubricating 'wet' between surging, uplifting trombone solos and old-style vocals.
All Russ's 'jazz friends' at Sutton Coldfield Trad Jazz Club send their deepest sympathy to his family and colleagues.
The jazz brothers in harmony...
Russ(left) and Rich at the 100 Club
Photo © Peter M Butler, Jazz&Jazz