Monday, January 22, 2007

Mr. Acker Bilk

I found this today in a charity shop for a pound. IT's an old LP by Acker Bilk & His Paramount Jazz Band recorded in 1958/59 on the Pye label. The legendary Joe Meek is credited with "Recording- Balance".

The sleeve notes are very amusing and inventive and I will quote a few of them here-

"This done, and the Die Cast, the Redoubtable Westcountryman caused it to become known that his Choice had fallen upon the Exercise of his Prodigious Laryngeal Dexterity. He was decided to sing. Thus it befell that the Genial Bristol Blower commited to Memory the Words and Music of those Ditties he felt inclined to Carol, insert his Head and Shoulders within the Larger End of the Recording Horn and give his Best, what Time the Paramount Jazz Men achieved a Seemly Display of Virtuosity in his Aid. First commemorating in Stentorian Fashion the Attributes of that State endemic to his Music, the Egregious Mr. B. then passes to the Glottal Exploration of a Trio of Tunes as much Distinguished for their Originality of Approach as for their Catholicity of Source. Of these, "Highrer Ground" and "Carry Me Back" are Negro Plantation Songs, while "Jump IN The Line" was originally a "Calypso" from the Facile Noddle of Mr. "Blind" Blake - a Celebrated Minstrel who had worked the Caribbean Isles which produced this Strange Idiom."

Richard S. Ginell says-
"Acker Bilk -- or Mr. Acker Bilk, as he was billed -- has won immortality on rock oldies radio for his surprise 1962 hit "Stranger on the Shore," an evocative ballad featuring his heavily quavering low-register clarinet over a bank of strings. To the jazz world, though, he has a longer-running track record as one of the biggest stars of Britain's trad jazz boom, playing in a distinctive early New Orleans manner. After learning his instrument in the British Army, Bilk joined Ken Colyer's trad band in 1954 before stepping out on his own in 1956. By 1960, a record of his, "Summer Set" -- a pun on the name of his home county -- landed on the British pop charts, and Bilk was on his way, clad in the Edwardian clothing and bowler hats that his publicist told his Paramount Jazz Band to wear. Several other British hits followed, but none bigger than "Stranger," which Bilk wrote for his daughter Jenny. The single stayed 55 weeks on the British charts and crossed the sea to America, where it hit number one in an era when radio was open to oddball records of all idioms (Bilk gratefully called "Stranger" "my old-age pension"). Released on English Columbia in Britain, several Bilk albums came out in America on the Atco label, and he continued to have hits until the British rock invasion of 1964 made trad seem quaint. With that, Bilk moved into cabaret and continued to have some success in Europe, leading jazz bands, recording with lush string ensembles, and even scoring another hit, "Aria" (number five in Britain), in 1976. Continuing to perform through the 2000s, Bilk slackened his pace so that he could pursue, like Miles Davis, a hobby of painting."

Discover more about Acker Bilk HERE

Acker Bilk - Carry Me Back

Acker Bilk - Jump In The Line

Acker Bilk - Dardenella

Acker Bilk - Higher Ground

These SendSpace files are available for seven days or until exhausted.


Howlin' Hobbit said...

Great stuff, Michael! Thanks!

michael said...

You're welcome HH . I'm not really a great fan of Jazz but this had my feet tappin' , especially the great calypso number.

spice-the-cat said...

Can't say I'm a big fan of Acker Bilk - it's a bit too traditional for my tastes although I can respect the man for his contribution to the world of music, along with his sensible avoidance of the pitfalls that snared many of the British jazz fraternity of that era.

I find it refreshing to see that after nearly fifty years of being viewed (or perhaps I should say heard) as a second rate version of it's American cousin that British jazz is now being rediscovered by enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic and is finally being given the regard it deserves for being original, innovative and independent.

Now, where are those Tubby Hayes, Don Rendell and Ian Carr LP's I stashed away all those years ago.

michael said...

There's been a bit of a discussion going on recently about the film "It's Trad, Dad" , directed by Richard Lester, on one of the Yahoo groups I belong to.
An american group member was baffled by the film and it's portrayal of teenagers enjoying Traditional Jazz. Not sure if Acker was in that film but The Temperence Seven were and certainly my favourite jazzers of that era. I think I did actually buy a copy of "Pasadena" which was a big hit for them at the time in the U.K.