John "Captain John" Handy

With Barry Martyn's Band

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Capt. John Handy was one of the great discoveries of the 1960s New Orleans revival jazz movement, virtually the only alto saxophonist to play in that genre of music. Although often grouped with fairly primitive musicians, Handy was actually a technically solid, driving improviser whose style sometimes not only looked toward the swing era, but the jump jazz and rhythm & blues of the early 1950s. This CD was recorded at a concert during a European tour. Handy is the main soloist with British drummer Barry Martyn's sextet and, fortunately, dominates the music. His three roaring choruses on "Who's Sorry Now" (plus the closing ensemble that follows) are a definite highlight. Handy's wide vibrato is perfectly under control and adds to the passion of his playing. The three-piece rhythm section of the band was also fairly strong, although on a few selections, young trumpeter Teddy Fullick (who often plays short staccato notes) falters regularly; not much is heard from trombonist Pete Dyer. Sammy Rimington, normally a George Lewis-inspired clarinetist, mostly plays tenor on the set and fares well, generally emulating Handy closely. Although they play in an ancient style (which must have really sounded out of place in 1968), Martyn's band also performs quite a few songs not heard much from revival bands, including "Am I Blue," "A Porter's Love Song," "Mardi Gras," "Red Man Blues" and "I Laughed at Love." Handy is heard throughout in top form; on such songs as "Lady Be Good," "Boogie Woogie" and "Ice Cream," the momentum and joy of his playing cannot be denied.