Bill Phelan’s Muskrat Ramblers, 15/11/2013

‘BILL PHELAN’S MUSKRAT RAMBLERS’ returned on Friday, 15th November 2013 at Farnborough Jazz Club.  They played as a six-piece band, with leader BILL PHELAN on trumpet, what a lovely guy.  The rest of the gang were ALAN CRESSWELL on reeds (Alan was with Max Collie Rhythm Aces for 18months), GRAHAM WISEMAN on trombone, CHRIS THOMSON on double bass, JOHNNY MCCALLUM on banjo (who was with Kenny Ball for 20years), plus PAUL NORMAN on drums.  Of course, they began their repertoire with ‘Muskrat Ramble’, which was followed with ‘Beale Street Blues’.  To begin with, our audience were all more talkative than usual, but I think the band felt a little mystified as to why it was only the usual four dancers for a bit.  It was our first really cold Friday evening of the year, so I think they were all trying to warm themselves up.  The band just kept playing their wonderful music.  However, the audience soon relaxed and got up to dance and our real atmosphere blossomed.  The next number I wish to mention is Alan’s feature song, namely ‘Petite Fleur’.  How beautifully he played it too.  Another great number was ‘Buona Sera’.  Johnny sung this and certainly our dancers flooded the dance floor (I jotted down ‘lovely muted trombone from Graham’).  ‘The Loveliest Night of the Year’ came next.  This song was adapted for the film ‘The Great Caruso’ sung by Mario Lanza.  Obviously, we all remember this song well, so we all sang it too.  Bill asked us to take our partners for a waltz.  Then the tempo stepped up to a quickstep.  Lovely jubbly.  They also played Buddy Bolden’s number called ‘Careless Love’.  Then came ‘Ciribiribin’, a beautiful number and when it ended, I asked to speak on the mike.  I told everyone that whilst doing my research, I came across the song writer (good looking too) called Jack Lawrence ( ).  Aged 95yrs, Jack was still answering commenters.  I am not in the habit of commenting on websites, but felt compelled to do so (was it his age, or his good looks!).  Unfortunately I realised as I pressed ‘send’ that Jack had died two years earlier in 2009 (one month off his 97th).  I quickly sent an apology in case of any upset to his family members.  Back came a reply from a dear friend of Jack’s who said it had been like a time-warp.  I am now in contact with this lovely lady – also called Diane.   To continue … Bill himself, featured beautifully with the next Hoagy Carmichael number called ‘Stardust’.  I remember Johnny played a wonder solo on guitar.  It is such a fabulous number, with plenty of audience participation and at the end, they called out for ‘more’.  It’s been a long time since that was called out (even if many wanted to do so on previous occasions, they haven’t!).  Fats Waller’s ‘Black and Blue’ came next, then they ended the evening with ‘Creole Love Call’.  Again, such a lovely evening and once again, due to the magic, I forgot to record. 

Diane & Keith

‘Beale Street Blues’ – W.C. Handy (1916)
‘Black and Blue’ – (m) Fats Waller, (l) Harry Brooks & Andy Razaf (1929)
‘Buona Sera’ – Peter DeRose & Carl Sigman (circa 1956)
‘Careless Love’ – Obscure origins (first association found Buddy Bolden Band (circa 1890’s)
‘Ciribiribin’ – (m&l) Harry James&Jack Lawrence (1939) (based on melody by Alberto Pestalozza -1889)
‘Creole Love Call’ – © Duke Ellington (1928) (lost court case by Joe ‘King’ Oliver (1923)
‘Muskrat Ramblers’ – (m) Edward ‘Kid’ Ory (1926), (l) Ray Gilbert (added 1950)
‘Petite Fleur’ – Sidney Bechet (1952)
‘Stardust’ – (m) Hoagy Carmichael (1927), (l) Mitchell Parish (with Hoagy) (1929)
‘The Loveliest Night of the Year’ – (m) originally Juventino P Rosas (1888), then (m) adapted by Irving Aaronson, (l) Paul Francis Webster (1950) for film ‘The Great Caruso’

So sorry to tell you, we lost a dear friend, Graham, (friend of Stella and Doug).  “Enjoy all those lovely musicians in the greater playing fields Graham”.  I’m very sorry not to have let everyone know about Graham before now.  Also, lovely Adrian Cox attended his funeral and I just want to say ‘Hi Adrian, glad to hear you look in at our website and well done for paying your respect to Graham’.

This terrible storm in the Philippines is so very upsetting and have donated for myself.  I am also asking you all, if you haven’t done so yourself, to bring a £1 or two and we will donate it to Red Cross from Farnborough Jazz Club.  They need as much help as possible.  We are all feeling the pinch, but they have been conducting themselves so gracefully, even in their terrible plight, but they are desperate now.  We must help … please … thank you.

See you all Friday.

Diane and Keith