Studio 51 was arguably the most influential place in Britain for a generation of New Orleans style musicians. Ken Colyer had first played there as a member of the Crane River Jazz Band not long after its opening during the post-war Festival of Britain year. But it was initially a venue mainly for jazz in a more modern style: Cleo Laine auditioned there for Johnny Dankworth early in her career. By 1955 it had become the Ken Colyer Club. Colyer’s band played there most weekends to packed houses of young enthusiasts and there were often all-nighters when a guest band would alternate sets with Ken’s from midnight until 6am in what George Melly described as a ‘smoky dive’ without a bar-soft drinks only (officially!)
This CD features Colin Bowden from the ‘classic’ line-up, Sammy Rimington, whose international career was launched with Ken’s early encouragement, and Ray Smith, whose mentor was Colyer’s earlier pianist Ray Foxley. Pete Dyer plays fine Jim Robinson-nfluenced trombone on several tracks.
Barry Palser, whose Cambridge-based Savoy Jazzmen often featured Ken as a guest in later years, also plays trombone on certain tracks, Alan ‘Jinx’ Johns complements the rhythm nicely. Ken himself is on mellow, relaxed form and clearly at home in his old setting.
The repertoire chosen by Ken includes some New Orleans standards he’d recorded with different line-ups over the year but with some lesser known tracks too.