Thursday, March 6, 2014

Les Rois du Fox-Trot: We're Forever Blowing Bubbles

Les Rois du Foxtrot: Live at the Le Petit Journal St. Michel (Paris)
Jean-Pierre Morel's latest hot-jazz album released
Hans Koert

Have you ever had to confess to a friend that you are sometimes fascinated to play a 1920s hot jazz 78rpm record on your 1930 Columbia portable wind-up gramophone? Well, I have ….. and, to be honest,  I learned how they felt pitty for me and tried to change the subject …… Well,  I do have sympathy for their feelings ……. It’s true …. The sound quality of the 78rpm record is most of the time rather low-fi and often the music is outdated. Recorded acoustic and in mono, it includes a lot of surface noises, not to mention the needle drops or scratches which make the needle jump ....  But, at the other hand, its sound spectrum, its happy melodies, its weird accents by the cymbal or woodblock, the great arrangements by long forgotten bands, make that I'm anxious to hear those great unknown hidden treasures from the 1920s - All worth to remember.

Les Rois du Fox-Trot: Standing f.l.t.r.: Nicolas Montier, Laurence Bridard, Bernard Thévin and Shona Taylor, Michel Bescont, Gérard Gervois, Marc Bresdin and Francois Fournet. Kneeled: Pierre Reboud and Jean-Pierre Morel (photo courtesy: Hans Koert) 

If you are anxious to hear that music played, as it sounded 80 years ago, in a live concert, you should try to join a concert by the French band Les Rois du Fox-Trot, directed by its founder and cornet player Jean-Pierre Morel.  

 Jean-Pierre Morel.  (photo courtesy: Hans Koert) 

A lot of jazz fans, in their 60s of 70s now, will remember Jean-Pierre Morel as the leader of Charquet et Co, formally known as the Reverend Sharkey’s Congregation or Sharkey & Co,  which was extreme popular in The Netherlands during the 1970s  It was a shock to learn that this popular band was disbanded in 1978 ……  In 1995 Jean-Pierre Morel founded - breeding will out - a new, smaller band, entitled Le Petit Jazzband de Mr. Morel; ten years ago its successor was founded: Les Rois du Foxtrot. 

Marc Bresdin (photo courtesy: Hans Koert) 

Jean-Pierre Morel is inspired by the fully arranged hot jazz and dance band music as was popular during the 1920s and 1930s by bands like Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Orchestra, Tiny Parham and his Musician or well known icons like Clarence Williams or Jabbo Smith.   

( Stomp Off CD 1436)

Recently the 4th album of his Les Rois du Fox-Trot has been released, entitled We’re Forever Blowing Bubbles. The recordings were made in its usual Parisian venue Le Petit Journal St. Michel where no more then 30 people can enjoy the music, while facing the band. The recordings were made at several live concerts between June 2011 and September 2013. 

Nicolas Montier  (photo courtesy: Hans Koert) 

Fifteen months ago, Jean-Pierre Morel told me, we had a three-days recording session in a studio in Nancy, but after all that time the sound engineer is always working on it …Jean-Pierre wonders if or when this album will be ready …… but he’s an optimistic guy: It will be released someday ….. As they wanted a new album for their fans, they decided to let Stomp Off release these live recordings: We’re Forever Blowing Bubbles

Shona Taylor (photo courtesy: Hans Koert) 

The title tune is in fact a waltz, which was composed in 1918 and recorded by the Original Dixieland Jass Band, January 1920 and since then recorded more then 70 times by known and unknown names like Benny Goodman, Vincent Lopez, Nat Gonella and Charlie Ventura up to Les Brown, the Temperance Seven and stride pianist Dick Hyman, but Jean-Pierre was inspired to select this tune, thanks to the version of the French High Society Jazz Band, which recorded it in July 1972 in Paris for its RCA album Jazz Chez Bofinger. The vocal is by Shona Taylor, who also plays the second cornet in Morel’s band. 

(photo courtesy: Christelle Guichoux)

It’s hard to point you to my most favorite tracks, especially because a lot of tracks fascinate and remember me to its originals …. What about Boy in The Boat and Walk That Thing by Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Orchestra of Harlem, originally recorded October 1928? 

 Jean-Pierre Morel.  (photo courtesy: Hans Koert) 

 Jean-Pierre Morel’s cornet in the style of the now almost forgotten Jabbo Smith brings you right into the 1920s, with that same spirit and swing, so caracteristic for the music as oplayed by the jazz orchestras of that decade. 
And what about Oh Miss Hannah, which is well known in its Paul Whiteman version ( May 1929) with Bix Beiderbecke on cornet …. Other well known tunes, that should be mentioned are Crazy Quilt ( played in the Chas. Creath Jazz-O-Maniacs arrangement), which became the title tune of one of the first Stomp Off albums (SOS 1008) made by Charquet et Co, recorded at the Dutch Haarlemse Jazz Club in Haarlem (The Netherlands) October 1977.

 Jean-Pierre Morel.  (photo courtesy: Hans Koert) 

Beware: Jean-Pierre Morel is my secret weapon against all those criticasters who stick to the meaning that all pre-war jazz in general and the music of the 1920s in particular is outdated and can’t be seriously enjoyed by any normal acting jazz lover ……   The best way to wipe the floor with those critics, is to invite them to a concert by Jean-Pierre’s Les Rois du Fox-Trot at the Le Petit Journal St. Michel in Paris, at its usual venue …..   and if this suggestion is not feasible, feel free to listen to the first track, Torrid Rhythm, originally recorded by Cliff Jackson's Krazy Kats ( January, 1930), re-recorded by Les Rois du Foxtrot ( May 2013): 

If you search at You Tube, you'll find numerous examples of Jean-Pierre Morel's "singing" cornet, as available  at one of his four albums: Crazy ‘Bout Red-Head Mamas - TNT - Fireworks or, its latest one, We’re Foreever Blowing Bubbles. 

Hans Koert

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Beware: Jean-Pierre Morel is my secret weapon against all those criticasters who stick to the meaning that all pre-war jazz in general and the music of the 1920s in particular, is outdated and can’t be seriously enjoyed by any normal acting jazz fan.The best way to wipe the floor with those critics, is to play them one of Jean-Pierre Morel's albums; Recently Morel's latest album has been released: We're Forever Blowing Bubbles.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot, Hans, for this great review of a wonderful, swinging album. Classic jazz from the pre-war years is still a goldmine for true jazzfans and collectors, the re-recording of some of the hidden treasors by Jean-Pierre Morel and his staff is a joyfull experience - great music, great musicians!