If you have been around at the last few Birmingham International Jazz & Blues Festivals, you might have come across some jazz nearly a century old being played not, as you might expect, by a bunch of old beards in straw boaters, but by a group of stylish chaps-about-town who trained at London’s finest jazz colleges.
These are The Dixie Ticklers, and Standing Pat (yep, the phrase is used in St James Infirmary) is filled not just with Jelly Roll Morton’s Wild Man Blues, Louis Armstrong’s My Heart, Sidney Bechet’s Suey and WC Handy’s St Louis Blues, but also with material from outside of that New Orleans canon.
So we get Duke Ellington’s cool harmonies on Purple Gazelle and a hip samba-tinged original composition, Boujis, from top Tickler, Dom James. There is also a great chanted Our Friends as a hidden extra track.
The band manages to bring in a deep scholarly understanding of New Orleans and Dixieland jazz without letting it undermine their enthusiasm for performing, and they manage to bring a contemporary London edge to the music while being true to its origins. It really is a fresh re-invention driven by joy.
Lovely solos from Dom on clarinet, William Rixon on trumpet and Nicholas Costley-White on guitar and great ensemble sound driven by the expert drumming of Daoud Merchant makes for a band that brings cheer wherever they play.
The band is currently touring Australia but will be back in this country for a performance at the London Jazz Festival. They are at the Jazz Nursery on 11 November, but first grab a copy of this beautifully presented and elegantly played CD from their website, www.dixieticklers.co.uk