[Dixielandjazz] John Petters Swinging Down Memory Lane CD Review

john petters jpettjazz at btinternet.com
Thu Feb 26 14:13:52 PST 2004

The following review has just been published in the March edition of Just
Jazz Magazine in the UK. MP3 sound clips are on my website (including the
Drummin' Man solo refered to in the review). www.traditional-jazz.com

Review in March 2004 issue of Just Jazz Magazine

Swinging Down Memory

Lane (2)

John Fetters' Swing Band

featuring Val Wiseman and Nick Dawson

Rose Records: RRCD1030

Recorded at St. John's Arts Centre, Old Harlow, Essex, 29/30 October, 2003
Total playing time: 52m 12s

A Fine Romance; Drummin'Man; I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good; Blue Skies;
Laura; Opus One; Oh You Crazy Moon; After You've Gone; I Get Along Without
You Very Well; Let's Get Lost; Ridin'High; Stairway To The Stars; It's All
Right With Me; Swinging Down The Lane

John Petters (drums), Val Wiseman (vocals), Nick Dawson (vocals and piano),
James Evans (clarinet and tenor sax), Keith Donald (bass)

This extremely well produced album offers some bright new renditions of
familiar and neglected tunes from the 'Great American Songbook'. Val Wiseman
is featured on eight of the tracks, where her clear, warm vocals exude poise
and panache. I particularly enjoy her poignant version of / Get Along
Without You Very Well, a vocal/piano duet, where her subtle timing and
measured sentimentality are expertly handled.  Other highlights for me are
It's All Right With Me, with its clever change to half tempo, and/ Got ft
Bad And That Ain't Good - beautifully sung.

Pianist Nick Dawson, as well as providing the piano accompaniment and solos,
ail to his usual high standard, is also a featured vocalist on six of the
tracks, where his smooth, effortless delivery is pleasing to the ear. His
vocal style and dulcet tone is very much akin to the crooners of the Swing
era without actually sounding like anyone in particular -no bad thing!

James Evans, very experienced for a relative youngster, appears on most
tracks on clarinet and tenor saxophone. He is very talented and his
ethereal, dreamy style is especially effective on the slower tracks such as
his splendid feature number, Laura. On faster numbers, however, his
adventurous playing sometimes verges on the manic. He paints himself into
some devilishly difficult corners at times, only to escape by some deft
manoeuvre as though nothing had happened. I like his playing because it is
musically interesting - there's a bit of 'who dares wins' about it, too, and
it's fun.

Bassist Keith Donald is as sound as a bell. His undemonstrative style means
that you hardly notice him, but he is quietly doing his job, accurate and

Leader John Petters is a super drummer. He excels on his feature number,
Drumming Man, with a wizard drum solo, but it is his contribution to the
rhythm section that is paramount - and he swings bigtime.

That's the thing about the band too - they swing. So, a super album. My only
criticism is the four bar exchanges in After You've Gone, which although
technically correct, are so sparse and disjointed as to make it sound as
though half the band have gone home! Perhaps I'm being a little harsh, but
I'd describe them as cryptic, or just a bit too clever for comfort.

This, though, is small beer when compared to what is overall a very pleasing
compilation, sure to win friends. So, nostalgia lovers unite, and instead of
grabbing another cheapo garage forecourt re-issue, why not splash out on
something new by those who love that music and carry it forward today. You
will be pleasantly surprised

Roger Marks

John Petters
Amateur Radio Station G3YPZ

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