Geoff Cole has been on the British jazz scene since the '50s. His background includes a ten-year stint with the noted Ken Colyer Jazzmen before forming his Red Hot Five. This is their fourth recording for Big Bill Bissonnette's enterprising Jazz Crusade label. The previous three honored revered jazzmen Fats Waller, Kid Ory, and Jelly Roll Morton. This time out, Cole is paying tribute to none other than his own style of playing, which falls somewhat short of the label "red hot" in the title of his band. This is not to say that the playing is tranquil -- there's plenty of bounce, lilt, and syncopation. Yet it is not that rambunctious, devil-may-care, all-out approach that one generally associates with the term. The music swings, but without much to do and unnecessary instrumental caterwauling. Joining Cole on the front line is reedman Tony Pyke. His clarinet has a light, fancy-free way about it which contrasts nicely with the bumptious Geoff Cole trombone. Pyke switches to alto sax for such cuts as "Did You Mean It." Most British alto players seem to have inherited in varying degrees that sweet, swinging sound of that English alto player of yore, the inestimable Freddie Gardner. The trombone/clarinet contrast is especially distinguished on such lilting presentations as Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer," which is given a thorough working-over by the group. The understated piano of Hugh Crozier joins Cole and Pyke in making this a unique track. Crozier put his Fats Waller-like vocalizing on display on "Until the Real Thing Comes Along." Cole adds mute on some tunes, including "I Can Make Believe," engaging in some elegant wah-wahing, which adds to the highly listenable 72 minutes of jazz music played by masters of the trade.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan