Ken Colyer

This Is Jazz

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A two-CD package, This Is Jazz is one of the most fascinating collections yet to be released from Lake Records' continuing excavation of the Denis Preston/Record Supervision Ltd catalog. Documenting the development of Ken Colyer's Jazzmen between late 1959 and fall 1961, as depicted over the course of two vinyl volumes of This Is Jazz, the package opens with a full recounting of the September 1959 sessions that produced This Is Jazz (Volume One), including three previously unissued alternate takes. Disc one then wraps up with two further tracks from the Little Brother Montgomery sessions first referenced on Lake Records' reissue of Colyer's This Is the Blues album. This Is Jazz (Volume Two) -- a weaker album than its predecessor, but still an enjoyable one -- devours most of disc two, but again there is room for some fine bonus material. Both sides of the "Happy Wanderer" single, that really should have brought the band a hit of some kind, are here and still sound fabulous; while the disc closes with the band's final recordings for Preston, and three tracks from the 1962 Too Busy EP (the fourth cut appeared, once again, on This Is the Blues). Across both discs, This Is Jazz is a generally patchy collection -- anybody hearing Colyer for the first time would be better advised to pick up This Is the Blues. At the same time, however, we have waited far too long for somebody to give the last years of the British trad scene the attention that it deserves; for that reason alone, This Is Jazz should be cherished.

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