Cyril Davies... British Blues Harp PioneerReturn to Discography
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"R&B From The Marquee" - 1962 Ace of Clubs LP, ACL 1130, Mono.
One of the most exciting innovations on the British jazz scene has been the formation of Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated. The group was first formed in the early spring of 1962, and made its first appearances at a rhythm and blues club in Ealing. The sessions proved so popular that within a few weeks the National Jazz Federation offered the group a regular weekly residence at its club, the Marquee in Oxford Street.
Here Blues Inc. was an instantaneous and overwhelming success. Each Thursday evening over seven hundred people pack into the club to twist, jive, or just listen to the rough, virile, driving music that the group plays. The audience is probably the most cosmopolitan and enthusiastic any band could wish for, and the music not only has great appeal for the hordes of overseas tourists who slip into London during the summer months, but also appeals equally to a very wide age group of resident fans.
This L.P. was recorded shortly after Blues Inc. opened at the Marquee, and for the purpose of this recording session, Alexis Korner added to his normal front line drummer Graham Burbidge who for several years has been the mainstay of Chris Barber's rhythm section, and gained first hand experience of the idiom sitting in at Smitt's Corner in Chicago with Muddy Waters during a recent American tour. Another addition is Spike Heatley on bass, until recently a veteran of the Johnny Dankworth big band. On piano is Keith Scott, while the hard, booting tenor playing comes from Dick Heckstall-Smith - one of the most exciting and competent saxophonists on the scene today. Alexis Korner leads the group on guitar, and the wild, keening sound of the harmonica is provided by Cyril Davies. The well-known British blues singer Long John Baldry joins the group to sing three of the titles on this record - the remainder of the vocal honours going to Cyril Davies.
The numbers on this record are only a small part of the very large repertoire which the group has assembled. Particularly worthy of attention are Alexis' own compositions Finkel's Café and Down Town - the former is a soul-tinged blues titled with a friendly nod in the direction of Mendelssohn, whilst the latter drives along magnificently from opening theme to final coda. I've Got My Mojo Working has become a trademark for Blues Inc. providing a climax to their club appearances with the audience joining in with the vocal. A mojo, en passant, is a sexual amulet which still enjoys great popularity among some urban Negroes. It is mentioned again in the lyrics of Hoochie Coochie together with its other variants, the black cat's bone and John the Conqueror. Gotta Move perhaps illustrates most clearly why this music is enjoying such popularity. The strength and vigour of R&B cannot be denied, and in the field of popular music they are qualities which have been lacking for too long. To an entire generation of young people musically weaned on diluted rock and roll, the sincerity and force of Rhythm and Blues have an irresistible attraction.
Footnote - The Marquee is one of the few internationally known jazz clubs, and is run on a non profit making basis by the National Jazz Federation. Situated at 165, Oxford Street, London, it operates six nights a week presenting several of the different facets of jazz - modern, traditional, mainstream, and rhythm & blues - via a wide selection of bands. Details of each week's programme are published in the Federation-produced journal "Jazz News".
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