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BEBOP SPOKEN HERE 17.02.2009
Martin Wheatley, All Day Breakfast
Hula Bluebirds: Martin Wheatley (gtrs/uke/bjo/vcl); Jake Rodriguez (gtr); Dave Croft (uke);
Arcadians: Martin Wheatley (gtr/uke/vcl); Mike Piggott (vln/gtr); Tom Langham (gtr/vcl/uke); Roger Graham (bs);.
A lovely souvenir of last night’s gig at the Customs House plus some gems by Wheatley’s Arcadians.
A superb selection of songs familiar and otherwise. For anyone who loves that period between the wars when small group swing took over from the traditional New Orleans line-up and reigned supreme until it was swamped by the big bands. Paradoxically, the big bands themselves often featured small group bands within a bad thus keeping the genre alive!
This is early Hot Club, Stuff Smith, Carl Kress, Teddy Bunn, Spirits of Rhythm, pre bop 52nd St. – this is the personification of swing!
Wheatley is a master of his craft, his acoustic playing a lesson in subtlety as well as demonstrating how to get the most out of a tune without pyrotechnics. Piggott too delivers the spirit of Grappelli but with the soul of Piggott..
Fascinating Rhythm has Wheatley on Hawaiian, Piggott on rhythm guitar and Langham on Uke – fascinating! Martin plays solo tenor guitar on Oh! Varmeland, So Beautiful;banjo on Skylark; Stella By Starlight (on uke) and a mandolin based object – the Octaphone on Lullaby in Rhythm.
A gem of an album who like their jazz to be accessible, I’ll be playing this very often.
JONATHAN WOOLF 01.05.2009
Martin Wheatley (guitar, Hawaiian guitar, banjo, ukulele, Octophone)
with the Hula Bluebirds and Wheatley’s Arcadians
rec. 2000-2006 [75:11]
To play the banjo is one thing but to play the guitar, Hawaiian guitar, ukulele and Octophone as well constitutes serious ‘doubling’. The serious doubler is Martin Wheatley and he, with Spats Langham, is probably the best known and admired practitioner of Golden Age music in Britain today with the proviso that Wheatley’s range of enthusiasms is (on record at least) much broader.
Just how broad is shown by this disc wherein he turns up solo or with the Hula Bluebirds and his own Arcadians. The former band plays, as one might expect, Hawaiian music, the latter taking a more pluralist approach. Both are expert instrumentalists and practitioners and this disc moves with galvanising rapidity through their stylistic pluralities. There’s never a dull moment.
Learning Boots offers a wittily light hearted entrée whilst Benny Carter’s masterpiece When Lights Are Low shows how well textured and varied are the colours that Wheatley, on guitar, and his cohort Dave Crofts on banjo, can evoke. I doubt the tune’s ever been played quite like this before. Another confrere of Wheatley’s is violinist Mike Piggott and he, along with Tom Langham and Roger Graham on bass, turn up for Robins and Roses where Wheatley sings warmly and Piggott complements him with a solo rich in burnished hue. Moonlight in Vermont is a solo guitar outing and sports fine Southern pickin’ from Wheatley whilst adherents of his Hawaiian band will gleefully accept Hano Hano Hawaii/Hilo March not least the sprightly march section.
Georgia Stomp may sound familiar but this is not the well-known tune of the same name; instead it’s a sprightly up-tempo number played solo on guitar. He Wouldn’t Stop Doing It is one of those insinuating 1920s double entendre numbers complete with amusing vocals (Wheatley) and a swinging violin solo. Hot Dogs sounds similarly salacious but it’s actually a vocal-free solo along Will Shade lines. Believe or not Fascinating Rhythm works very nicely on Hawaiian guitar and Oh Värmeland, So Beautiful, another seemingly unlikely vehicle, generates considerable expression in this solo recital performance. And whilst Armstrong Gibbs’s Dusk – another wide ranging choice – is a total delight as performed by the Ideal String Band it’s perhaps Real Emotion that shows how diverse influences can produce such joyous results. In its melding of styles, its absorption of popular music and its replenishing in the shape of a string trio of Hawaiian guitar, rhythm guitar and ukulele, it says something about the vitality and variety of music making in general and of Wheatley and his colleagues in particular. It reminds me especially of the work Wheatley does with the inspirational James Evans.
If this string paella excites then seek out this disc. I loved its variety and vitality.
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