Echoes of Swing – 4 Jokers in the Pack – Echoes of Swing

by | Oct 7, 2008 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Echoes of Swing – 4 Jokers in the Pack – Echoes of Swing Productions  EOSP 4505 2, 55:23 ***** []:

(Colin T. Dawson, trumpet & vocals; Chris Hopkins, alto sax; Bernd Lhotzky, piano; Oliver Mewes, drums)

Well, this was quite a surprise!  At first I must admit it appeared to be another group German jazz musicians who are very adept at what they do and recorded beautifully, but somehow don’t quite get it right.  Instead it’s a striking quartet – sounding via terrific arrangements amazing large – specializing in chamber-jazz swing of the 1930s and 40s.  Their membership consists of two Germans, an Englishman and saxist Hopkins, an American. (He obviously writes the promotional materials too, so there’s no humorous gaffes.)  Their CD was designated “Best International Album of the Year” by the Hot Club de France, and I can well understand why.

Without a doublebass pianist Lhotsky has to use his stride piano chops to the utmost to give the quartet that support in the bass end, and he does it convincingly.  (Hopkins is also a noted stride pianist, though not heard in that capacity here.) The two-horn front line of trumpet and sax is not often heard nowadays, and both gives the quartet a fresh sort of sound and adds to the more orchestral results.  The two vocals by English trumpeter Dawson are a nice touch and don’t spoil the album – as do such vocals on many jazz releases.  He has a low-key and innocent-sounding voice which is so pleasant compared to the saccharine male vocalists on many big-band recordings of this period.

The 17 short tunes are not all taken from the 30s and 40s – many are originals by members of the quartet or from other recent sources, but done in something like the style of the small groups of the 30s. There’s even one from Duke Ellington of the 50s or so. I was surprised there wasn’t a single track from Raymond Scott, because the sound of Echoes of Swing strikes me as more along the lines of his tongue-in-cheek small group tunes such as The Toy Trumpet.  Sonics are excellent, as you would probably expect from a German-originated recording.

1 Conga Brava
Composed by:               Duke Ellington / Juan Tizol
Arranged by:                  Chris Hopkins
2 Double Talk
Composed by:               Louis C. Singer
Arranged by:                  Bernd Lhotzky
3 Royal Garden Blues
Composed by:               Spencer Williams / Clarence Williams
Arranged by:                  Chris Hopkins
4  Lament For Javanette
Composed by:               Billy Strayhorn / Barney Bigard
Arranged by:                  Colin T. Dawson
5 Shirley Steps Out
Composed by:               Mel Powell
Arranged by:                  Chris Hopkins
6 Crêpe Muzette
Composed by:               Bernd Lhotzky
Arranged by:                  Bernd Lhotzky
7 June In January
Composed by:               Leo Robin / Ralph Rainger
Arranged by:                  Colin T. Dawson
8 Impromptu
Composed by:               Edwin Wilcox
Arranged by:                  Colin T. Dawson
9 Tunisian Trail
Composed by:               Louis C. Singer
Arranged by:                  Chris Hopkins
10 The Clown Prince
Composed by:               Colin T. Dawson
Arranged by:                  Colin T. Dawson
11 Some Other Spring
Composed by:               Irene Kitchings (Wilson) / Arthur Herzig, Jr.
Arranged by:                  Bernd Lhotzky
12 Eggs & Fried Rice
Composed by:               Oliver Mewes
Arranged by:                  Oliver Mewes
13 Happy Feet
Composed by:               Milton Ager / Jack Yellen
Arranged by:                  Chris Hopkins
14 I’ll Get By
Composed by:               Fred E. Ahlert / Roy Turk
Arranged by:                  Colin T. Dawson
15 Rehearsin’ For A Nervous Breakdown
Composed by:               Charles Shavers
Arranged by:                  Chris Hopkins
16 Dancers in Love
Composed by:               Duke Ellington
Arranged by:                  Colin T. Dawson
17 Deep In The Shed
Composed by:               Chris Hopkins
Arranged by:                  Chris Hopkins

— John Henry

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