Archie Semple

Night People

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Continuing Lake's examination of the Denis Preston archive, this is a more or less straightforward reissue of two classic albums, recorded 11 months apart during 1960-1961 by, first, the Archie Semple Trio (Jazz for Young Lovers), and then, following trumpeter Alex Welsh's arrival, the Archie Semple/Alex Welsh Big Four (1961's Night People). (One track, "I'll Be Seeing You," has been omitted from the first, for reasons of space.) The result is an excellent 22-track collection that reminds listeners why clarinetist Semple was frequently regarded as at least the equal of the better-known Acker Bilk, despite possessing a quite different playing style. Breathier and far more melancholy, his rendition of "Lady Sings the Blues" (from Jazz for Young Lovers) is devastatingly lovely, while the original album's closing track, "Lullaby of the Leaves," has a haunting frailty that few other players could match. Things become a little wilder following the arrival of Welsh, although the essential mood of the group -- Fred Hunt's piano in particular -- remains unchanged. Of the two, the earlier set is the most remarkable; still, Ralph M. Laing's sleeve notes are spot-on when they describe both albums as "star contenders" for any roundup of the most significant albums of the trad boom.

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