Terry Lightfoot

Lightfoot at Lansdowne

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An excellent compilation of material recorded by the North London-born Lightfoot during his early-'60s tenure with producer Denis Preston at Lansdowne Studios, the bulk of this CD (11 of the 18 tracks) reproduces the groundbreaking Lightfoot at Lansdowne album. The remainder is culled from the five singles issued between July 1961 and August 1962 (three tracks, including the immortal "The Whiffenpoof Song," were apparently unavailable for copyright reasons), and it is remarkable to think that so much quality material was recorded in such a short period of time. Terry Lightfoot & His New Orleans Jazzmen were, after all, one of the hardest-gigging acts of the age, and it would doubtless have been easy for them to simply go through the motions when they entered a studio. Instead, there's a dexterity and diversity to the recordings that few of their peers could match, as the band ranges from a supremely breezy "Tiger Rag" to an almost surreal assault on Richard Rodgers' "Bali Hai." There's also a genuinely haunting stab at "Old Man River," to amplify the band's habit of breathing unexpected animation into the most clich├ęd of numbers; the version of "'Tain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)" that closes the album has to rate among the definitive renditions, with Roy Williams further revealing himself as one of the great unsung singers of the trad era.

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