by Bert Thompson
THE HAPPY PALS NEW ORLEANS PARTY ORCHESTRA—“Miss
Noonie” (New Orleans North CD-015). Playing time: 72m. 38s.
Over in the Gloryland*‡‡; Far Away Blues; Apple Blossom Time‡; On the
Road to Home Sweet Home*††; Blue Hawaii†; I Couldn’t Keep It to
Myself*; Når Lygterne Tændes [aka Red Sails in the Sunset]‡; Beneath
Hawaiian Skies; The Old Rugged Cross; One Sweet Letter from Youº; Milk
Cow Blues*; Kid Thomas Boogie Woogie.
Recorded live a Grossman’s Tavern, Toronto, Canada, Feb. 4-5, 2011.
Personnel: Patrick Tevlin, trumpet, vocal*; Toby Hughes, sax, vocal†; Kid
Kotowich, trombone; Roberta Tevlin, piano; Alex Ralph, banjo (Ted Jensen
Banjo‡); Chuck Clarke, drums, vocalº.
Featured Guests: Kjeld Brandt, clarinet; Karl Kronqvist, bass, vocal‡.
Special Added Guests: Janet Shaw, clarinet††; Brian Towers, trombone††;
Joe van Rossen, trumpet‡‡
From the time leader and trumpeter Cliff “Kid” Bastien died and Patrick
Tevlin took over the Happy Pals band, each year a celebration—the “Kid
Bastien Forever Jazz Party”—to keep alive the memory of Bastien has been
held at the band’s stomping ground in Toronto: Grossman’s Tavern. This
recording was made in 2011 at the eighth such get-together, and a rip-
roaring time the two-day event was, as is evidenced by this recording. As
Bastien was, Tevlin is a devotee of the Kid Thomas school of playing with
its smears, growls, flares, etc., and the rest of the band play their part in
recreating the Thomas band sound, including the two musicians who
traveled from Europe to join the group for the occasion, Kjeld Brandt and
The opening number, a rousing rendition of Over in the Gloryland, sets the
tone for what follows. The band, along with Tevlin on vocals, is cheerfully
urged on—and joined—by the rambunctious crowd in attendance, everyone
obviously having a whale of a time. As we are informed in the liner notes,
“Noonie Shears, Toronto’s famous ‘Umbrella Lady,’ led the parade at
Grossman’s Tavern every Saturday for decades.” She was a great favorite
of the band’s, to the extent that when she was terminally ill, they even
assembled in her hospital room to serenade her; and for the last song, being
an aficionado of Kid Thomas, she requested his Kid Thomas Boogie
Woogie. Since it had been recorded at the party at Grossman’s, the band
thought it appropriate to include it on this disc, which is dedicated to her.
At these parties the band was often joined by other local musicians
present. Such was the case here: on Over in the Gloryland it is augmented
by Joe van Rossen (trumpet) resulting in a nine-piece band with a two-horn
lead (with another trombone the band would have had a full New Orleans
brass band line-up); and on On the Road to Home Sweet Home it is joined
by the husband-and-wife team Brian Towers (trombone) and Janet Shaw
(clarinet) making for a ten-piece band. There is some very nice harmonized
improvisation by the two clarinets, Brandt and Shaw, on the latter.
The tune list on this disc contains some songs not often heard on traditional
jazz albums, although to many moldy figs they might be somewhat
familiar. Apple Blossom Time, On the Road to Home Sweet Home, and
Beneath Hawaiian Skies would qualify as such, and I suppose we might be
more accustomed to hearing Blue Hawaii done by the likes of, say, Elvis
Presley. But as we can hear here, they can be effectively rendered as
traditional jazz. The last two songs on the list are from the Kid Thomas
repertoire and have not been picked up by many other bands to my
knowledge. It should be added that Når Lygterne Tændes is better known
as Red Sails in the Sunset, here sung in Swedish by Kronqvist.
One tune that will be familiar to all, however, is The Old Rugged Cross,
which is led off beautifully by Kjeld Brandt playing in the low register, after
which he ascends to the high register and is joined by Hughes on sax, after
which the rest of the band come in, playing very softly until the coda.
Brandt, who was the leader of the fine Danish band New Orleans Delight,
was felled by a devastating stroke the year after this recording was made,
which sadly has ended his musical career. So this disc is also a kind of
musical memento of him.
This is a CD that will delight those who appreciate the New Orleans style
of playing jazz, with its roughness and exuberance; it may well work to
convert the others. The physical CD and download are available from
www.tevlin.ca , and the download is on iTunes too. It is available for
streaming on www.rdio.com .