|KID ORY AND HIS ORCHESTRA — “THE ORIGINAL JAZZ” (Upbeat URCD259).
Playing time: 74 mins. 37 secs.
The Original Jazz: Kid Ory and His Orchestra
Baby Face; Spanish Shawl; Ida; Down by the Riverside; Sweet Lorraine; The World
Is Waiting for the Sunrise
Dance with Kid Ory or Just Listen: JaDa*†; Dinah†
Kid Ory in Europe: Four or Five Times*; Down in Jungle Town
Recorded on Dec. 5, 1956 in Paris; and Aug. 25 and Oct. 27, 1957 in Los Angeles,
Collective Personnel: Kid Ory, trombone, vocal*; Marty Marsala, trumpet, vocal†;
Alvin Alcorn, trumpet; Darnell Howard, clarinet; Philip Gomez, clarinet; Cedric
Haywood, piano; Frank Haggerty, guitar; Julian Davidson, guitar; Charles Oden,
string bass; Wellman Braud, string bass; Earl Watkins, drums; Kansas Fields, drums.
This disc, part of the Kid Ory LP reissue series on CD that Upbeat has been
releasing, is comprised of the following: tracks 1-6 from Verve LP MGV1023 (The
Original Jazz); tracks 7-8 from Verve LP MGV1022 (Dance with Kid Ory – the rest of
this LP being on URCD 241); tracks 9-10 from Verve LP MGV8254 (Kid Ory in
Europe – the rest of this LP being on URCD 236). As was true of the others in the
series, the transfers here are first class.
The album The Original Jazz could just as easily have been titled Dance Some More
with Kid Ory. As a glance at the play list reveals, most of the tunes on the CD are
standards, and all of them, except possibly the last, are taken at eminently
danceable tempos; while each provides the several musicians solo space,
occasionally more than one in a tune, there is nothing frantic about any of these
solos, and even the frequent four-bar tags by the respective drummers are also
relatively restrained. And as most dancers (and many listeners) prefer, the melody is
always to the fore, whether in ensemble passages or solos.
On almost the entire disc the group is very laid back, and the tempos are steady.
Perhaps an exception might be found in the last track, recorded at a concert in Paris
where the ambience was considerably different from that of the recording studio,
thus affecting the choice of tempo and treatment. Baby Face and Ida are usually
taken at a faster clip than they are here, and Spanish Shawl leans more toward the
Richard M. Jones version than the Fletcher Henderson one (and that of
contemporary bands that I am familiar with) in terms of tempo. Even the banjo
anthem, The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise, although more up-tempo than the
others that precede it, is not a race to the finish line. Indeed, the time allotted to
each of these is almost triple that of the old days of the 78 records.
While Ory’s personnel varied through the years, the group featured on the first
eight tracks plays what might be called “vintage Ory.” A steady four-four rhythm
centred on bass and guitar (which Ory preferred to banjo), occasionally aided by the
chording of the piano, lays down a solid bed for the front line. I particularly liked
Marsala’s work on lead, his tone commanding and volume controlled, his notes
carefully chosen and not excessive in number. There is no call for earplugs on this
If what one wants is a raucous, flag waving performance, this is not the disc to get;
but if one wants a relaxed, entertaining hour-plus of jazz played effortlessly and
providing an invitation to the dance, this is it. Of course, if one lacks a partner or
the inclination to dance, one can, as the latter part of the title of URCD 241 suggests,
“... just listen.” Kudos to Upbeat for this series to date.
While Upbeat is an English label, this CD is available at the Upbeat web site, www.
upbeat.co.uk, which provides for ordering by mail if one clicks on “New Releases.”