REMEMBERING PAT HALCOX
(Lake LACD 338 – double album)
Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization
Editor, Webmaster:  Phil Cartwright       Editor@earlyjas.org
EARLYJAS
EARLYJAS
Bert's Bits
CD Review
Bert Thompson

Disc One
: Mr. Halcox & Mr. Barber – playing time 79m. 37s.
1950s:  New Orleans Hop Scop Blues; Who’s Sorry Now?; I Love My Baby; Old Stackolee
1960s: Blue Turning Grey over You; The Mountains of Mourne; Do Right Baby; Shine
1970s: Georgia on My Mind; Rent Party Blues; Somewhere over the Rainbow
1980s: Buddy Bolden’s Blues; Some of These Days; Blues on Trumpet; Oh Baby
1990s: Working Man Blues; Isle of Capri.
Recorded between 1955 and 1998, no locations given.

Disc Two: Pat Plays Away – playing time 75m. 47s.
Give Me Your Telephone Number; Wabash Blues; Rosetta; Confessin’; Tin Roof Blues; I
Found a New Baby; Undecided; Blues for Humph; Blue Orchid; Apple Honey; I Let a
Song Go Out of My Heart.
Recorded between 1964 and 1996, no locations given.  

Personnel: All tracks include Pat Halcox on cornet, trumpet, or flugelhorn. Others, too
many to list in full, include Chris Barber, Monty Sunshine, Wally Fawkes, Sonny Morris,
Art Hodes, Don Ewell, Alex Welsh, Kenny Ball, and Ottilie Patterson.  All data are given
in the CD booklet.

  Jazz has had several memorable musical partnerships, including those of
Oliver/Armstrong, Armstrong/Teagarden, Ellington/Strayhorn, Brubeck/Desmond,
Lyttelton/Fawkes among others, that engendered some exquisite music.  Few, if any,
however, have outlasted the fifty-odd years of the Pat Halcox/Chris Barber
collaboration.  This set is not so much a celebration of that alliance as it is a showcase for
the talents of Mr. Halcox, so there is not much of the two of them playing together on
these discs, despite the title of the first, “Mr. Halcox & Mr. Barber.”
  The first of these two discs presents selections from the first five decades of the Barber
band—there are none from the 2000s prior to Halcox’s retirement in 2008 from full time
playing with the band due to health issues from Parkinson’s disease, although he did not
give up playing entirely at that time.  Only five of these selections include both Barber
and Halcox, the others being various combinations of personnel from the Barber band,
all supporting Halcox.  None of these tracks has been previously issued.
  In the Chris Barber band of 1953, Halcox had played cornet but was reluctant to “go
pro” when the others did, being replaced by Ken Colyer, who had just returned to some
acclaim from a visit to New Orleans where he played with some of the pioneers of the
revival, ending with a stint in the New Orleans jail for overstaying his visa.  A year or so
later, as most people know, the band left Colyer, and Halcox, now prepared to take the
professional plunge, rejoined.  The first cut, a hard driving New Orleans Hop Scop
Blues, is from the next year, 1955, and is a tune seldom played by traditional jazz bands.  
On it Halcox plays cornet in a tight front line, as he did for the first year or two before
switching to trumpet, and he displays some of the fairly broad vibrato that was part of
his technique at that time.  With his change to trumpet, the vibrato diminished
somewhat, as we hear on the second number, Who’s Sorry Now? which, apart from the
coda, is largely a solo vehicle for Halcox, accompanied only by the rhythm section.  He is
equally adept with slower tempos, of course.  I have never heard Working Man Blues
played this slowly—but it comes off, and I like to think Messrs. Oliver and Armstrong
would have approved.
  Halcox was also a masterful accompanist for vocalist Ottilie Patterson, as is
demonstrated on the up-tempo I Love My Baby and the languid The Mountains of
Mourne where his backing is incredibly sympathetic, never overpowering her voice.  His
obbligatos masterfully complement her phrasing and intonation.  (Perhaps because this
rendition is from a live performance, Patterson’s vocal is less intimate here than it is on
the studio version, and although I usually opt for the live performances, of the two I
prefer that of the studio.  Halcox, however, is superb on both.)  His own vocal talent was
not inconsiderable, as Do Right Baby attests, and his growling and bending of notes on it
set the right tone for the blues before his vocal.  This track also illustrates his facility in
all the ranges of the trumpet, as does Shine where he engages in some friendly
competition with Kenny Ball in the upper register before both launch into a harmonized
coda.
  As well as attacking tunes vigorously on occasion, Halcox can be very subdued,
witness the lead he lays down on Georgia on My Mind.  It is incredibly tender—even
wistful—as he plays the first chorus softly, unaccompanied, in the middle and low
registers.  He continues in this vein after being joined by the rhythm section, but when he
rejoins them after they have led through the chorus following his, he raises the volume a
little and moves toward the upper range of his horn before coming back down to a
hushed close.  On another track, Somewhere over the Rainbow, he virtually caresses it on
flugelhorn.  He is, indeed, a man for all occasions.
  The second disc contains tracks recorded with Halcox guesting with various groups—
some full bands, others smaller combos.  As was the case with the first disc, none of these
tracks has been issued previously.  Halcox wears several hats on this disc, and all fit him
quite comfortably.  The New Orleans style is in his comfort zone as the first two tracks,
Give Me Your Telephone Number and Wabash Blues, indicate.  However, other tracks,
such as I Found a New Baby and Undecided, also illustrate his facility with the Chicago
style of the Condon bands; and Blues for Humph shows him at ease with the mainstream
style of the Lyttelton Band when Halcox deputized for the ailing Lyttelton.  The last
three tracks, Blue Orchid, Apple Honey, and I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart feature
Halcox leading members of other bands who would get together in various
configurations each summer during their respective bands’ “vacations” and indulge in
vehicles the likes of which their “regular” bands did not afford—ballads such as Blue
Orchid and I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart or an exciting big band number, such as
Woody Herman’s Apple Honey here, where the seven musicians did indeed sound more
like a big band than a septet and could stretch out in extended solos. They made some
recordings as the Pat Halcox All Stars, and apparently were also known, appropriately,
as Pat’s Summer Band.  
  So these two discs form a fitting remembrance of Pat Halcox as well as demonstrate just
how wide his range could be.  They also serve as a reminder of how the jazz world was
diminished by his passing.
This set is available on Amazon and elsewhere on line and also from Lake Records at
http://www.fellside.com.