Big Bill Bissonnette

Big Bill's British Band

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Trombonist "Big" Bill Bissonnette has stated that his goal is "to lead the mouldiest jazz band in the world," and from the evidence of this often-riotous set he may well have succeeded. A partisan of New Orleans jazz as performed by Kid Thomas Valentine and Captain John Handy in the 1960s, Bissonnette's trombone is heard as a part of a spirited octet/nonet jamming such unusual swing tunes as "Smile Darn You Smile," "On Moonlight Bay," and "On a Coconut Island." The slightly out-of-tune ensembles make up in color and spontaneity for the rough moments. Trumpeter Ken Pye has a clipped, almost staccato style that recalls Valentine, while Bissonnette harks back to his idol, Jim Robinson, but this band's unusual personality is actually formed by their saxophonists. Norman Field (who doubles on clarinet) also plays a lot of alto, as does guest John R.T. Davies, while Sarah Bissonnette's tenor emerges as the most impressive solo voice. Although this ensemble-oriented band does not boast any virtuosos, their extroverted emotions and boisterous spirit should make them of strong interest to fans of New Orleans jazz.

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