by Bert Thompson
TREVOR RICHARDS THE NEW ORLEANS TRIO—“ECCENTRIC!” (New
Orleans Jazz Productions NOJP CD-8). Playing time: 67 mins. 00 secs.
Eccentric; Birth of the Blues*; Habanera Blues; It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie*; Sophisticated
Lady; I’ll See You in My Dreams; Beautiful Dreamer; Sensation Rag; Purple Rose of
Cairo; Hawk Feathers; By the Sleepy Lagoon; Riverboat Shuffle; Is You Is or Is You
Ain’t My Baby†; Maria Elena; Mama’s Gone, Goodbye; Georgia on My Mind*;
Night and Day; God Will Take Care of You; Boogie Woogie on St. Louis Blues.
Recorded at Schwalbach am Taunus, Germany, Aug. 19, 21, and 22, 2008.
Personnel: John Defferary, clarinet, alto & tenor saxes, vocal†; Simon Holliday,
piano, vocal*; Trevor Richards, drums.
Probably not too many jazz fans here are familiar with drummer Trevor Richards.
Born in the U.K., he now lives in Germany most of the time. Self-taught at the start,
in the mid 1960’s he moved to the U.S. where, in New York City, he studied
informally under Zutty Singelton for a couple of years. Like several of his fellow
countrymen, he moved to New Orleans to hone his craft under the tutelage of
pioneers such as Cie Frazier and Freddie Kohlman, and later with Cozy Cole and
Ray Bauduc, among others. While in New Orleans he played with just about every
pioneer jazzman still extant, including George Lewis, the Humphrey brothers,
Punch Miller, and a host of others, along with the Eureka and Olympia Brass
Bands. All of that adds up to an impressive résumé.
He founded the Trevor Richards New Orleans Trio in 1972, with Bob Barton on
piano and Tommy Sancton on clarinet. Then Peter Muller came in on clarinet,
followed by John Defferary, and this group toured the world for some ten years. In
the recent version of the trio on this CD, John Defferary is back on clarinet, and
Simon Holliday occupies the piano chair.
These seasoned musicians present a wonderfully varied repertoire on this album
that runs the gamut, as the liner notes state, “from the heyday of American
Minstrelsy in the mid nineteenth century to the decline of the Swing Era,
incorporating ragtime, classic jazz, blues and gospel, ballads, swing standards,
popular songs of all varieties….” A cornucopia, indeed. Each number is worked
out with tasty arrangements that also give each musician a chance to strut his stuff.
However, there is no displaying technique for its own sake, no bravura
performances. One senses always the group is what matters, not the individual, and
that is as it should be.
As a drummer, I particularly appreciated Richards’ playing: his emphasis on the
snare and his judicious use of cymbals. For my money he nicely debunks that
“drummers-should-be-felt-not-heard” mantra, for he is heard although he does not
dominate. Perhaps the best word to apply to his playing is tasty, and the same word
could just as easily be applied to the other two members of this well-disciplined
trio. Defferary plays clarinet on most of the numbers and shows his facility in all
registers. On piano, Holliday is comfortable in almost any style one can think of,
whether it be stride or latin or boogie woogie or—you name it. Perhaps the only
weakness might be found in the vocals where there is some straining from time to
time to meet notes that are almost out of range; at other times, especially at the end
of codas, perhaps, there seems to a certain flatness. But since the vocals are few in
number, this is a minor cavil.
The CD provides a very enjoyable hour plus of music and is well worth having. It
comes in a digipak and is available only from Trevor Richards. He can be contacted
by e-mail at email@example.com; or by snail-mail at Am Hain 6, 36320 Kirtorf,
Germany; or by phone at (49) 6635-918900.