Acker Bilk

Acker

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An early inclusion within Lake's peerless Record Supervision collection of Denis Preston productions, Acker rounds up 21 tracks from what connoisseurs rightly regard as the golden age of clarinetist Bilk, romping through a smorgasbord of trad, pop, classic, and even Caribbean numbers, all recorded within a ten-month spell between October 1959 and August 1960. That, of course, was the peak of the British trad boom, and Mr. Acker Bilk & His Paramount Jazz Band were second only to the perennial Chris Barber Band in terms of both popularity and versatility -- indeed, when it came to transferring his audience's affections across the musical spectrum, Bilk and company might even have had the edge, and this dramatic selection of material is ready evidence of that. In common with a lot of Bilk's work, hindsight does render portions of this disc little more than hip easy listening -- his renditions of "White Cliffs of Dover" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (retitled here "Coming for to Carry Me Home") certainly fall into that category. But there's a beauty to them regardless, one that is then picked up by harder-hitting renditions of "Tiger Rag," "Snake Rag," and Ron McKay's vocal showcase, "Good Woman Blues," and the end result is an album that utterly recaptures the sheer exuberance of the trad movement in all its colors.

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