MONIQUE MUSIQUE – 02.11.2018 – The Dime Notes Tackle Old Tunes.
The Dime Notes are a trad-jazz quartet that more or less grew out of the Chris Barber band (amazing that his career lasted so long!). This was my first chance to hear them.
Two things I really appreciated: 1) they use a guitar instead of a banjo, and 2) they use a string bass instead of a tuba. This helps a lot to reduce the feeling that you’re listening to music so old that the whiskers have whiskers on them. But there is a third factor that really won me over, and that is that they somehow manage to truly capture the feeling and rhythm of the old bands. They are looser and therefore better than the Barber band in this respect.
Pianist Andrew Oliver, the lone American in the group, is particularly fine in this respect. Like Jelly Roll Morton, he improvises on the melody and not on the chords, which is the old style personified, and like Morton, he plays original improvisations that do not just copy the originals. I also liked British clarinetist David Horniblow, whose tone is rich and full like those of Omer Simeon and Barney Bigard (I wonder if he’s playing an Albert system instrument?) and doesn’t try to sound too much like Benny Goodman, although in Alabamy Bound he does introduce some leanness and bite to his tone that are somewhat reminiscent of the King of Swing (but also of Johnny Dodds, another old-timer and one of Goodman’s idols). The bottom line is that they don’t sound like typical “moldy figs.” In the latter title, we hear bassist Louis Thomas playing tremendously good slap bass in the tradition of Pops Foster or Steve Brown, the two most exceptional of the early New Orleans bassists (the first black, the second white). In Aunt Hagar’s Children’s Blues, they get a nice, loping beat going, completely relaxed and in the true two-beat tradition.
Another thing they have going for them is that, in many places, the rhythm section plays as a unit. This is not authentic style; listen to the Morton Red Hot Pepper or Armstrong Hot Seven recordings, and you’ll hear a lot more disconnect between the piano, banjo and bass (plus drums, not present here) than the Dime Notes achieve. In Aunt Hagar’s, bassist Thomas also plays a distinctly more modern bass solo, combining bowed and pizzicato lines in a very intriguing manner.
Horniblow brings his own sound and style to Black Stick Blues, virtuosic in its Goodman-like turns and trills but not really trying to sound like Sidney Bechet (very little high-register theatrics and no “French vibrato” in his tone). In the middle section of the first chorus, and a bit later, the rhythm section, again playing as a unit, abandon the old two-beat style for a four-to-the-bar swing rhythm, which I liked very much. The Pearls brings us back to Morton and the old New Orleans two-beat, again played smoothly and without affectation. Oliver’s playing is not quite as forceful or dramatic as Morton’s own, but he makes some interesting statements and is very satisfying. Horniblow revels in his chalumeau register on this one.
Boyd Senter’s Tain’t Clean is one of the few tunes on this album I’d never heard before (the other two were Otis Stomp, written by pianist Oliver, and I Believe in Miracles), and it is a surprisingly lyrical piece taken at a medium tempo. Otis Stomp could easily pass for an old tune in form and beat, albeit a fairly simple one, comprised mostly of little riffs, and again moving into a bit of a swing beat in the middle strain. The rhythm keeps up the swing beat for Oliver’s solo, which again is modeled on the melody and not just the chords, Bob Zurke-style. Bechet’s Si Tu Vois Ma Mere is taken at a very slow ballad tempo that suits its lovely melodic line perfectly. Both Oliver and Thomas take nice, sparse solos. They also play Brymm’s Camel Walk in a nice, peppy style that lacks the stiffness of most trad bands.
Morton’s The Crave is his one Spanish-tinged tune that is not often played nowadays, but to be honest I’ve always liked it better than New Orleans Joys, and the Dime Notes give it the royal treatment, slightly dragging its insinuous melody with deft skill. Horniblow’s solo on this one is particularly excellent, using double-time and some surprising rhythmic shifts and stops. At the end, he shifts into B.G. mode with good effect.
I Believe in Miracles is a nice tune, played here with almost a shuffle beat à la the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. W.C. Handy’s Ole Miss is played in an almost strict ragtime beat, though allowing for improvised solos, something ragtime never did. Oliver’s solo sounds as much like Morton as anything else he plays on this album…Jelly would really be proud of him! Turtle Twist was a perfect choice for this band, considering that Morton’s original recording was also a small-group performance (featuring Bigard on clarinet, if I recall). The Dime Notes take it a bit slower than Morton did, and give the beat a snakier feel. Oliver does his best Morton imitation on this one, although he does not copy any of the master’s licks, but plays his own improvisation.
In the finale, Bechet’s What a Dream, all pretensions to two-beat Dixieland are gone. This is a straightahead swing performance, sounding almost like something Artie Shaw might have played. The quartet does a great job on it, too, driving the music home with style and élan.
No question about it, the Dime Notes are an absolutely terrific trad jazz quartet. A splendid CD.
LYNN RENE BAYLEY
YVES GUSTIN – 01.07.2018 – 14 titres de jazz et en plus une tres bonne tablette de chocolat tres Old!
Le CD comporte 14 titres de jazz et en plus une tres bonne tablette de chocolat tres Old! Les Dime Notes se sont donnes pour mission de reprendre le repertoire du debut du jazz. Ceci me rapelle les moments ou j’ecoutais dans me jeunesse Claude Luter (1923-2006) qui jouait dans ses debuts avec ses amis sous les arcades des Galeries Lafayettes a Paris. A l’epoque, on prenait son temps. Un peu de nostalgie ne fait pas de mal.
Quatre bons musicians : Andrew Oliver au piano, David Horniblow au clarinette, Dave Kelbie a la guitare et Tom Wheatley a la contrebasse.
JAZZ MAGAZINE – 01.05.2018 – Un retour aux sources rafraîchissant
Nouveauté. Interprétés par un quartette anglais, les grands standards du jazz originel prennent ici les couleurs les plus pimpantes. Un retour aux sources rafraîchissant dans la mesure où souffle ici l’esprit des pionniers de la Nouvelle-Orléans, Jelly Roll Morton ou Sidney Bechet. Il imprègne ces versions qui ne tombent jamais dans les excès, copie servile ou actualisation intempestive, mais témoignent d’une fidélité aux figures tutélaires du premier jazz.
THE SUNDAY TIMES 19.03.2017 – “The Dime Notes”
One thing we tend to forget, squabbling over discographies, is how sexy this brand of early jazz can be. It’s easy to assume that Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet et al can’t speak to a younger generation, but the pianist Andrew Oliver’s quartet lays that notion to rest. David Horniblow’s clarinet and Tom Wheatley’s double bass dig in deep on numbers imbued with the habanera – or what Morton called “the Spanish tinge”. The guitarist Dave Kelbie won many admirers with his poised chamber group Django à la Créole: this line-up is every bit as inspired.
JAZZ LIVES 30.8.2017 – “The Dime Notes” add up to hot jazz pleasure
Before you ask the pressing question, please look under D: Cab Calloway’s Hepster’s Dictionary defines “dime note” as a ten-dollar bill.
It’s also the name of a rocking, utterly satisfying new band. Cab would approve.
THE DIME NOTES are Andrew Oliver, piano; David Horniblow, clarinet; Dave Kelbie, guitar; Tom Wheatley, string bass. And you can get a good idea of where their hearts lie by their chosen repertoire; ORIGINAL JELLY ROLL BLUES, ALABAMY BOUND, AUNT HAGAR’S CHILDREN’S BLUES, BLACK STICK BLUES, THE PEARLS, T’AIN’T CLEAN, SI TU VOIS MA MERE, THE CAMEL WALK, THE CRAVE, I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES, OLE MISS, TURTLE TWIST, WHAT A DREAM. The first thing one notices is the presence of Morton, then Bechet, a few “jazz classics” with associations to Fats, W. C. Handy, and then compositions nobody plays: what band is delving into the Boyd Senter repertoire these days? There’s also an original composition by Andrew, OTIS STOMP, “inspired by a small Oregon town called Otis Junction,” as Evan Christopher’s lavish liner notes tell us.
But a tune list is just that: some lesser bands would take this one and create something admiring yet completely dessicated. Heroic, admiring copies of venerable 78s in twenty-first century sound. That line of work can be a great pleasure, in person and on record, but THE DIME NOTES have come to play, which they do splendidly, with heartfelt understanding of all the music that has come before them and what its open possibilities are right now.
And here’s the secret of this engaging little group (a quartet that will not make you lonesome for a cornet, trombone, or drums): THEY SWING. Let that sink in. Some groups that have given their study and energy to the music of the Twenties and early Thirties seem to have made it a point of honor to keep the rhythmic styles of the great innovators as they were, as if the way the music propelled itself in 1937 would be an insult to a composition first performed fifteen years earlier. I don’t mean that this band plays hot jazz with a side dish of Dizzy, Bird, and Al Haig — but they do know that Count Basie walked the earth and improved it seriously. So THE DIME NOTES benefit not only from the magnificent playing of each of the four instrumentalists, but they understand how to work together as a supple, rocking small ensemble. To me, they are the Guarnieri Quartet of Hot.
They can swagger and soar and make it seem as if the disc in the player — the player itself — is about to take off and rocket around the room. But they can also be tender and quiet, deeply lyrical, sorrowing, when the song calls for it. And the disc is certified gimmick-free: no jokes, no tricks played on the listener.
This band is frankly irresistible.
And I’ve read somewhere that The Dime Notes are the only band I know to have its (their?) own chocolate bar, on sale in Whole Foods in the UK. Until that commodity crosses my path, my hand, or my lips, I will content myself with their sounds. Here you can buy their CD, or their “vinyl,” and see a video of them in performance. Better than chocolate. Longer-lasting.
MUMBLE MUSIC 02.06.2017
The Dime Notes at the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh 01.06.2017
This lively ensemble bring to life the early years of the New Orleans jazz scene. This jumpin band is led by Portland born Andrew Oliver on piano, with an impressive background in jazz and composition, he studied jazz in New Orleans and has played in a number of bands including Tunnel Six. David Horniblow from the UK on the clarinet, who has played with the three B’s of British jazz Barber, Ball and Bilk, and has also recorded with Jools Holland. Dave Kelbie on rhythm guitar, a notable jazz and gypsy music accompanist and Tom Wheatley, a native Londoner on acoustic bass, prominent in jazz circles and known for reviving the ‘slap style’.
Jazz was originally referred to as jazm meaning “pep or energy”. This lively, energetic and fast paced set certainly keeps to the original definition with the audience tapping their feet and hands to the laid back tunes of Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Sidney Bechet and others as well as Andrew’s own compositions. The ‘jelly roll blues’ published in 1915, an early jazz foxtrot composed by Morton, a pivotal figure in early jazz, was the first to notate and arrange jazz which had previously been improvised. Andrew Oliver being a fan since his teens the set featured a number of songs by Jelly Roll Morton. Morton started to play the piano at the age of 14 in a brothel, however when his grandmother found out she kicked him out of her house, as jazz at that time was getting a bad press and was associated with brothels and alcohol which was prohibited from 1920 to 1933. Illicit ‘speakeasys’ became smokin venues of the jazz age!
If you are a fan of jazz this is a great band to follow, their love and knowledge of jazz is clearly apparent, and the music is high quality, authentic and evocative of days gone past.. They have a good musical rapport and I look forward to hearing more from the Dime Notes!
EDINBURGH SOUTHSIDE ADVERTISER 02.06.2017
The Dime Notes at the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh 01.06.2017
The Dime Notes started their UK tour at The Brunton in Musselburgh tonight to a well attended and appreciative audience. Who and what though are “The Dime Notes”…well the answer to the first question is David Horniblow (clarinet), Andrew Oliver (piano), Dave Kelbie (rhythm guitar) and Tom Wheatley (acoustic bass). The answer to the second question is a jazz band that takes us back to the early formative years of 20th century American Jazz…back to musicians like Jelly Roll Morton and Bix Beiderbecke. With The Dime Notes we go right back to those first early recordings of jazz (100 years ago now), and forwards for those formative 20 years or so to names maybe more recognisable to modern audiences – names including Duke Ellington and Sidney Bechet. I have to admit that these early jazz years are ones I know far less than I should about, but that is not a problem here as Andrew Oliver (piano) shares his wealth of knowledge on the subject in a friendly and informative manner as he introduces the music and never strays into the mode of a lecturer.
As a band of musicians, the individual members have a wealth of experience. Andrew Oliver originally hails from the USA and is an outstanding jazz pianist, and David Horniblow is one of the most in demand clarinettists on the jazz circuit and has played with so many household names over the years (Chris Barber to name just one). Playing with The Dime Notes gives David the opportunity to explore the music of some of his favourite clarinettists from this period of music. Dave Kelbie on rhythm guitar is the Scottish member of the band, and those early years of Spanish rhythms and European Gypsy Jazz coming into the melting pot that became jazz are very close to David’s musical heart. Tom Wheatley is one of the best acoustic bass players that I have seen in a long time, and his natural style seems so at home here, but if he ever has a break in his busy performing schedule and you are looking for a great rockabilly player, this is your man too. Individually “The Dime Notes” are musicians that I would be happy to watch as solo performers any night of the week, but collectively their joint enthusiasm for the music they play together is infectious.
The Dime Notes are not a historical jazz ensemble recreating note for note earlier recordings. Their very musical line up (no trumpet or trombone for example) means that new arrangements have been made of classics, but these arrangements have stayed close to the originals and captured the spirit of that early jazz age. There are some real surprises here though. Early jazz was a formation of many different elements into a new picture, but as the years went on, that picture was again broken up into many different pieces (like a jigsaw puzzle), rearranged endlessly and completely new musical avenues explored. In the music of The Dime Notes you can clearly hear the beginnings of rockabilly and rock’n’roll music. One early song “The Dream” originally attributed to the little known about “Jack The Bear”, I for some reason can hear The Cure so easily doing a cover version of.
The Dime Notes also write new music in the style of earlier years, and it is so well done as to be seamless with the rest of the set. My first encounter with this band, and I like them a lot. They also have their first album out on CD and it is also available on retro vinyl (but not shellac 78 yet).
The Dime Notes by the way take their names from the name given to a 10 dollar bill (often payment to a musician) in The Cab Calloway Hepster Dictionary from 1939.
JAZZ SOCIETY OF OREGON JAZZSCENE – 01.03.2017 – The Dime Notes
Though it has been a few years since Andrew Oliver relocated from Portland to London, the local scene owes more than it knows to the Oregon-bred pianist. In addition to founding the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, Oliver led a multitude of projects that brought jazz in Portland to new venues and audiences. Since migrating across the pond, he is focused more tightly than before on early jazz, a passion he explored with Portland’s Bridgetown Sextet. On this release from London quartet e Dime Notes, Oliver mines the earliest days of the music’s existence in New Orleans, digging up tasteful tunes by masters like Jelly Roll Morton and W.C. Handy and placing them in all-new but classic-sounding arrangements.
Oliver and company are hardly alone in their retroactive approach. The Dime Notes follow a long lineage of white (often British) jazz musicians who look back into the past. Nonetheless, their laid-back swing and clever interplay makes their music feel fresh and vibrant.
David Horniblow (clarinet) takes the melody role here, playing the part of the legendary Sidney Bechet on three Bechet classics (“What A Dream” is a particularly enthralling moment, with some nice trading between Horniblow and Oliver) as well as several Jelly Roll Morton compositions. Oliver adds one of his own compositions to the book as well; it is a twisting melody called “Otis Stomp,” inspired by the town of Otis, Oregon. Holding down the sizzling groove is the bass-guitar team of Tom Wheatley and Dave Kelbie, who handle their traditional roles with grace. Indeed, it is the easy-going interplay between slapped bass and chugging rhythm guitar that make the Dime Notes’ music feel far more alive than the museum piece it could have become.
JAZZ JOURNAL – 01.06.2017 – The Dime Notes
This recently formed London- based quartet specialises in recreating the authentic sound of vintage jazz and small-group swing from the 20s and 30s. Employing the necessary musical skill and understanding of the idiom, the group effectively captures the supple rhythmic variations, collective dynamics and relaxed swing of the best classic recordings. Jelly Roll Morton is a dominant influence, both in the spirited and accomplished playing of Oregon-born pianist/leader Andrew Oliver, and in the overall compositional concept applied to the arrangements, with contrast and nuanced development through- out the whole track, rather than simpler jam session repetition.
The general style doesn’t venture into experimental hybrid or innovative approaches, but aims at enriching and developing from the vintage formative roots, and at exploring less familiar material from the era. Ex-Barber clarinettist David Hornblower’s playing is nimble, incisive and assured, with hints of Fazola and Noone. His rapport with Oliver is evident and their inventive breaks and exchanges, notably in The Pearls, The Crave and The Camel Walk are impressive. Tom Wheatley and Dave Kelbie (the record producer) provide an attentive and supple platform for the animated interplay of clarinet and piano. Kelbie contributed significantly to the excellent Django À La Creole recordings led by Evan Christopher (who wrote the sleeve notes for this release). His guitar could surely have been used to advantage here, but is confined entirely to quiet integrated backing and support. This is a fine album from a very promising group, and attractively packaged – as CD or vinyl.
JAZZ DA GAMA – 03.02.2017 – The Dime Notes
Somewhere in the excellent liner notes to The Dime Notes of London’s debut album: The Dime Notes, the marvelous New Orleans clarinetist, Evan Christopher makes an important observation about the guitarist and likely prime-mover of this this new English band: Dave Kelbie. About The Dime Notes and their music, Christopher says, “builds a more inclusive community, based not upon nostalgia, or cliché notions of authenticity, but around the experiences the music can provide.” Evan Christopher has more than an intimate working knowledge of Kelbie – a sort of modern-day Alan Lomax when it comes to European Roma music – and the British slice of the European scene. And though he refers to musicians there as being part of UK ‘Trad’ bands (I, for one, prefer the slightly longer ‘UK bands playing in The Tradition’) Christopher’s excellent liner notes also mention with disdain such words such as ‘revivalists’ and ‘traditionalists’, preferring to glorify how pianist Andrew Oliver, clarinetist David Horniblow, bassist Tom Wheatley and guitarist Kelbie by exploring their leanings without justifying or defending their breadth of influences.
But enough of Evan Christopher for the moment; the Dime Notes disc you hold in – or will soon hold in – your hand is one that holds thirteen examples of the great music from the ancestral repertoire of jazz – the ‘maternal’ line of the music if you like. Each has been lovingly curated in a performance that leaves the listener speechless. And as if that were not enough, The Notes’ leader Andrew Oliver has refreshes our collective memory halfway through the record with his original, ‘Otis Stomp’, a tune which is as lively and evanescent as it is impossibly dazzling, before leading us into the second half of the record like a crowd of shameless excited jitterbugging dancers drawn to the legacy of Jelly Roll Morton, Fletcher Henderson and – perhaps the music’s first and greatest Ambassador to Europe – Sidney Bechet. Underscoring the need to create a modern repertoire of this music, is the fact that England and Europe seem to hold up a mirror to American Jazz musicians sometimes with a far steadier hand than the young (white) American Jazz musician, who sometimes remains obstinately ignorant of The Tradition. Just listen to Tom Wheatley’s bass solo nudged on by the agonizingly slow, yet exquisite time-keeping of Dave Kelbie’s vamp before Oliver and Horniblow bring “Si Tu Vois Ma Mère” home to roost and you will hear an object lesson in the New Orleans blues of Sidney Bechet.
Want more? There is plenty to be had on this gleeful debut album of The Dime Notes. “The Camel Walk” is breathtaking with its pregnant pauses in the melody played by clarinetist and pianist during which one can almost imagine taking a swig of whiskey while one’s partner is held with one arm outstretched (the other downing the said glass of inebriating brew. Then in “I Believe In Miracles” there are ephemeral ‘breaks’ for piano, bass and clarinet, when Dave Kelbie rocks the tempo reminiscent of a lonely banjo. Kelbie’s star turn comes again during W.C. Handy’s “Ole Miss”, where his masterful sense of time sets Handy’s piece on fire by shape shifting into a snare drum and a bass drum, with a pointed thunder-splash that sounds as if he were indulging in a resounding slap of an invisible cymbal. Kelbie is not the only force of nature on this recording, although he has probably been largely responsible for serving up this delectable record. It’s impossible not to be fall prey to the charms of David Horniblow’s clarinet, Dave Kelbie’s kinetic rhythm guitar, Tom Wheatley’s growling bass, or to feel the almighty wallop of Andrew Oliver’s incredible pianism.
RAUL DA GAMA
JUST JAZZ UK – 01.02.2017 – The Dime Notes
These four young(ish) guys have listened and absorbed the jazz music of the 1920s and beyond – half of the tracks on this CD being composed by ‘Jelly Roll’ Morton or Sidney Bechet, which gives you a good idea of what to expect. Original Jelly Roll Blues is a great opener, featuring the habanera rhythm – a trait often found in Morton’s compositions. Nice arrangement by The Dime Notes, ending the tune with a stomping out-chorus. The Pearls – another Morton tune – has dynamic piano from Andrew Oliver. These guys certainly know how to ‘Jelly Roll’!
Aunt Hagar’s Children’s Blues has bass player Tom Wheatley in the spotlight, displaying a virtuosity and knowledge of the idiom (passed on no doubt by his father, the ultra-talented Martin). Guitarist Dave Kelbie is an integral part of the group, giving solid support throughout the CD.
Andrew Oliver’s own composition, Otis Stomp, highlights some dazzling piano from the composer, as well as some exciting interplay between piano and clarinet. Sidney Bechet’s Si Tu Vois Ma Mere is the longest track – over six minutes – and it’s a fine tribute by David Horniblow to the soprano saxophone genius. We also hear shades of Barney Bigard and Edmond Hall, and again, some excellent piano. I Believe in Miracles was recorded by ‘Fats’ Waller and His Rhythm in 1935 with ‘Fats’ at the organ. Jazz bands and swing groups have given the tune a new lease of life during the last couple of decades, and it’s probably more popular than it’s ever been.
The Camel Walk is an unusual choice for this line-up. Recorded by such diverse bands as Red Nichols’ Hottentots and the Jack Hylton Band, The Dime Notes make it sound like it was written for them! Ole Miss is taken at a breakneck tempo and full marks to the quartet for holding it together (please note – this is a drummer-less outfit).
The group finish with another of Bechet’s great compositions What A Dream, the title of which perfectly sums up this CD. Full marks to four top-notch musicians for bringing a new dimension to the compositions of Morton, Bechet, Waller, et al. It swings from start to finish.
NORTHERN ECHO – 24.11.2016 – The Dime Notes
This is a splendid first outing for the Dime Notes, a four piece band led by American pianist and Jelly Roll Morton devotee Andrew Oliver. He’s accompanied by former Chris Barber clarinettist David Horniblow and the sublime backing of rhythm guitarist Dave Kelbie and bass player Tom Wheatley. A lovely programme includes Morton, Sidney Bechet and W.C. Handy, the whole thing enhanced by a warm clear recording and Evan Christopher’s thoughtful and eloquent notes.