Lonnie Donegan and Guests, Lonnie Donegan Jubilee Concert, 1st Half

LP recorded and originally released in 1981; Reissued on CD in April 2007 on Upbeat Jazz URCD214.

Here on compact disc at last is the great Lonnie Donegan Jubilee Concert of 1981 – the first half of the concert, at any rate: the second half is due to be released by Upbeat Records later in 2007. The original 2-LP album has become increasingly difficult to find; while some of us have been lucky enough to obtain a copy of the original vinyl records transferred to CD, the sound quality came nowhere near the clarity and presence of this new release from Upbeat.

Nominally the star of the show, Lonnie gives more than equal time on Disc 1 to the reunions of the 1953-54 Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen and the 1954-55 Chris Barber’s Jazz Band. Although there were several more to come in subsequent years, this was the first reunion of Chris’s original band from a quarter of a century earlier, and everyone is in fine form and enjoying themselves. Lonnie sings and makes introductions with great humour, and both versions of the band are clearly having a terrific time (and incidentally playing some excellent music).

Also having a terrific time are the members of the audience. You can hear the warmth of the applause as Chris and Monty come on stage near the beginning of Ace In The Hole, and an even greater burst of enthusiasm as Ken enters a few bars later.

Given the conventional wisdom that the original Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen broke up as a result not only of musical differences between Ken and the rhythm section but also because of personal animosity between Ken and Lonnie, it must have been quite a coup to re-assemble the Colyer Jazzmen for this special event. Ken acquits himself very well indeed, playing and singing on five numbers, then steps down in favour of Pat Halcox, who receives his own warm welcome on Jenny’s Ball.

At one time a rare collector’s item on vinyl, this concert on a new compact disc is an indispensable part of any Barber collection.

Music: Ace In The Hole || Jenny's Ball.

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