Personnel: George Melly, Ottilie Patterson (vocals); Ray James, Jay Hawkins (banjo); Acker Bilk, Monty Sunshine, Sandy Brown (clarinet); Al Fairweather , Kenneth Sims, Kenny Ball (trumpet); Chris Barber , John Bennett , George Chisholm, John Mortimer (trombone); Ron Bowden, Ron McKay (drums).
Liner Note Author: Gerald Mahlowe.
Arrangers: Acker Bilk; Kenny Ball; Terry Lightfoot.
It's Trad Dad! compiles 20 songs that document the strange British trad jazz scene of the late '50s and early '60s. For some strange reason, the sounds of jazz as played by the originators from New Orleans were a huge deal and scads of trad jazz groups flooded Britain. The most famous of the lot was Acker Bilk, who had a big hit in 1962 with the smooth instrumental "Stranger on the Shore." (The 1962 version of that song is sadly not included on It's Trad Dad!; instead, a smarmy version with strings from 1972 is included.) Others like Chris Barber and Kenny Ball made some noise too. At its best that's what the trad jazz revival was all about, some cats getting together to make some joyful noise and not caring about anything but swinging. Odds are that hearing most of these songs in crowded clubs while knocking back your libation of choice is the most optimal way of hearing them. Apart from a few tracks -- like Chris Barber's Jazz Band's wild take on "Mama Don't Allow" (not coincidentally recorded live), Acker Bilk & His Paramount Jazz Band's hard-charging "Sweet Georgia Brown," and Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen's atmospheric "Midnight in Moscow" -- most of the disc comes off as overly clinical and ultimately bloodless. The groups hit all the notes, but don't transmit any of the fun and frenzy that is such a big part of trad jazz. Still, apart from the puzzling inclusion of two bad songs from the 1980s, It's Trad Dad! does a fair job of conveying the sound of the era, and if you are a fan, it will be a disc you may want to pick up. ~ Tim Sendra