We welcomed ‘BILL PHELAN’S MUSKRAT RAMBLERS’ back again to FARNBOROUGH JAZZ CLUB on Friday, 27th May 2016. Band leader BILL PHELAN played both trumpet & flugabone. He was joined by ALAN CRESSWELL, who played clarinet, JOHN FINCH was on trombone, ANDY LAWRENCE, double bass, JOHNNY McCALLUM, banjo & guitar and PAUL NORMAN who played drums. It was another expected evening of super traditional jazz and they didn’t disappoint us. Keith and I thought they played the best we had ever heard them too, because they were really enjoying themselves.
‘Bill Phelan’s Muscrat Ramblers’ at Farnborough Jazz Club (Kent) on 27th May 2016. (LtoR) Andy Lawrence (double bass), John Finch (trombone &vocals), Paul Norman (drums), Bill Phelan (band leader, trurmpet & Flugabone), Johnny McCallum (banjo & guitar) and Alan Cresswell (clarinet), Photo by Mike Witt.
Paul Norman plays drums for ‘Bill Phelan’s Muscrat Ramblers’ at Farnborough Jazz Club on 27th May 2016. Photo by Mike Witt.
They played some good numbers and here are some of them. Quite obviously, they always begin their evening with ‘Muskrat Ramble’ and although I was busy ‘on the door’, I recall they all excelled, Paul was brilliant on drums, with everyone taking thunderously good solos. I also recall Bill joking that Paul doesn’t like the number – ha, he didn’t show it in his playing.
Then on announcing their next number, ‘Ciribiribin’, Alan called out (again jokingly) ‘he doesn’t like this one any better’ – ha. You may recall I love this tune, as I wrote to one of the composers, Jack Lawrence, (first time ever writing to a composer). I was contacted by his friend (also Diane), who explained that Jack had died a year before. He had been answering everyone who wrote, right up until his demise, aged 96 (on 15th March 2009)! She said it had felt like a time warp, so this number feels special to me (funny, my Mum’s birthday was 15th March). Continuing on … Bill played wonderful trumpet, with John’s super singing to ‘Big Butter and Egg Man’, with all of us up dancing too.
‘Bill Phelan’s Muscrat Ramblers’ at Farnborough Jazz Club on 27th May 2016. (LtoR) John Finch (trombone), Johnny McCallum (banjo), Bill Finch (trumpet) and Alan Cresswell (clarinet). Photo by Mike Witt.
Johnny McCallum plays banjo for ‘Bill Phelan’s Muscrat Ramblers’ at Farnborough Jazz Club on 27th May 2016. Photo by Mike Witt.
Johnny McCallum plays guitar for ‘Bill Phelan’s Muscrat Ramblers’ at Farnborough Jazz Club on 27th May 2016. Photo by Mike Witt.
Johnny showed his 20yrs with Chris Barber, when he played solo during the following tune ‘Canal Street Blues’, such a lovely banjo player, as well as guitarist. Bill was brilliant on trumpet too. The next tune, ‘Mood Indigo’, we were able to ‘smooch’ to – yes, there were some ‘smooching’ on the floor too, oh I mean dance floor – ha.
Alan Cresswell (clarinet), Pau Normanl (drums) and Johnny McCallum (banjo), three of Bill Phelan’s Muscrat Ramblers, playing at Farnborough Jazz Club (Kent) on 27th May 2016. Photo by Mike Witt.
Band leader Bill Phelan, plays trumpet with Johnny McCallum on banjo and Alan Cresswell on clarinet with ‘Bill Phelan’s Muscrat Ramblers’ at Farnborough Jazz Club (Kent) on 27th May 2016. Photo by Mike Witt.
Following on, — Bill played his flugabone as a duet with John (F) on trombone, to ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’. It was a super sound, then with everybody joining in. Alan was featured next with ‘Petite Fleur’ and a damn good job he did, playing it so beautifully.
Andy Lawrence plays double bass for ‘Bill Phelan’s Muscrat Ramblers’ at Farnborough Jazz Club on 27th May 2016. Photo by Mike Witt.
‘Too Busy’ is a lovely up-tempo number and about five of us performing our line-dance. Not many aye, but that made it all the more fun and I can remember thinking how great all their solos were – Andy (my great country man – private joke) great on banjo. I had put a couple of ticks against the following tune ‘Tie Me To Your Apron Strings Again’, because of the lovely sound of John (F) singing and everyone getting up to dance. ‘Bourbon Street Parade’ is the tune they always like to end the evening with and I wrote the word ‘dynamite’ in my notes – surely I need no other words, do I.
Your hosts, Diane and Keith
‘Big Butter and Egg Man’ – Percy Venables & Louis Armstrong (1926)
‘Bourbon Street Parade’ – Paul Barbarin (c. 1953)
‘Canal Street Blues’ – Joe ‘King’ Oliver (1923)
‘Ciribiribin’ – (m&l) Harry James & Jack Lawrence (1939) (based on melody by Alberto Pestalozza -1889)
‘Mood Indigo’- (m) Duke Ellington & Barney Bigard, (l) Irving Mills (1930)
‘Muskrat Ramble’ – (m) Edward ‘Kid’ Ory (1926), (l) Ray Gilbert (added 1950)
‘Petite Fleur’ – Sidney Bechet (1952)
‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ – (m) Ben Bernie & Maceo Pinkard,(l) Kenneth Casey (1925)
‘Tie Me To Your Apron Strings Again’ – (m) Larry Shay, (l) Joe Goodwin (1924)
‘Too Busy’ – (m) Chester Cohn, (l) Ned Miller (1928)