|SAMMY RIMINGTON—A Snapshot of His American Recordings 1995-1999 Upbeat URCD 274).
Playing time: 69 mins. 05 secs.
In the Good Old Summertime; Old Fashioned Love; My Wild Irish Rose; Ice Cream; Over the
Waves; Does Jesus Care?; Someday My Prince Will Come; Storyville Blues; Fidgety Feet; In the
Sweet Bye and Bye; Caldonia*; I Want You; Where the Blue of the Night; Roses of Picardy; Where
the River Shannon Flows.
Recorded: Jazz Crusade label at various locations in the U.S.A. and U.K. between 1995 and 1999.
Sammy Rimington, clarinet and alto sax; Sarah Spencer; tenor sax; Big Bill Bissonnette, trombone
and drums; Eric Webster, banjo; Ken Matthews, string bass; Colin Bowden, drums; Fred Vigorito,
trumpet; Paul Boehmke, tenor sax; Bill Sinclair, piano; Emil Mark, banjo; Arnie Hyman, string bass;
Mouldy Dick McCarthy, string bass; John Russell, drums; Greg Stafford, trumpet and vocal*; Colin
Bray, string bass.
This CD is a compilation of tracks featuring the English clarinetist Sammy Rimington, recorded by
and for the Jazz Crusade label, which was then owned by Big Bill Bissonnette and is now part of
the Upbeat stable. I was misled by the title at first, thinking it referred to recordings made by
Rimington in the U.S. on various labels here, but not so. It turns out that the “American” of the
title does not refer solely to recording locations (some were recorded in the U.K.) or to musical
groups (which include some British musicians) but to the single label that commissioned and/or
issued the tracks, as Liz Biddle informs us the booklet where she lists the relevant Jazz Crusade
catalogue numbers of the CDs from which these tracks are taken: JCCD3011, 3038, 3045, and 3048.
On these tracks Rimington is accompanied by members of the various groups that came under the
aegis of Big Bill Bissonnette,, including his Easy Riders Jazz Band and The December Band, and by
others such as saxophonist Sarah Spencer from the U.K.—his former wife—her fellow countryman
Colin Bowden on drums, and trumpeter Greg Stafford from New Orleans. Such stellar backing
gives Rimington able support for the most part. However, some of the drumming left a bit to be
desired. I found Bowden’s pounding 4/4 on bass drum a bit distracting on most numbers on
which he plays, as well as the rather strange punctuation—toms, rim shots, cymbal crashes, etc.—he
gave the Rimington original composition, I Want You. Also, Bissonnette’s “bombs” and
“explosions” a là Sammy Penn did not enhance the numbers where he played drums.
For me, Russell was the preferred drummer—unobtrusive but not unheard.)
Such minor deficiencies did not deter Rimington, a magnificent clarinettist as these tracks clearly
indicate, comfortable in all registers of the clarinet, obviously influenced by George Lewis,
evidencing fine fingering and replete with interesting ideas. I particularly liked his low register
openings on In the Good Old Summertime and Where the Blue of the Night—I was almost
surprised that on the latter Bing Crosby did not sing following Rimington’s opening chorus on this,
Crosby signature piece! It does, however, contain splendid runs from high through middle to low
registers by Rimington.
His treatment of Does Jesus Care?—all in the upper register and set off with a gentle vibrato—was
most satisfying. He is also no slouch on alto sax, although here he plays that reed on only one
The play list is perfectly suited to showcasing Rimington’s talents. Probably most of the tracks will
be quite familiar to most people, but possibly for interest a couple of less familiar numbers (in trad
playlists, at least) are included: My Wild Irish Rose and Where the River Shannon Flows (usually
limited to St. Patrick’s Day, if at all), Someday My Prince Will Come (quite often heard at trad.
occasions in Europe, however), Where the Blue of the Night (almost indelibly marked “Crosby”),
and, of course, Rimington’s own I Want You. Some of the waltzes that were taken in 4/4 time did
not come off too well— My Wild Irish Rose and Where the River Shannon Flows—although the
tempo each is taken at might have something to do with it.
None of that takes away from Rimington’s playing, and if one is unfamiliar with it, this CD would
be an excellent introduction. For those familiar with Remington, this is a good collection to be
savored all in one place, even if one has the original Jazz Crusade CDs
More information is available at the Upbeat web site, www.upbeat.co.uk.