Chris Tyle Recording Reviews

The following are a few reviews of recordings Chris Tyle has performed on. For more information on the recordings, click here.

from Jazz Times, November 1995

Silver Leaf Jazz Band, Jelly's Best Jam, Good Time Jazz GTJ-15002-2

Four generations separate these musicians--who (except for New York ringer Vince Giordano on bass) appear regularly at New Orleans boites--from pioneers such as Jelly Roll Morton, this CD's unseen star.

Arrangements by pianist Tom Roberts and trombonist John Gill (a master of the Kid Ory smears) of less-familiar material, such as "Each Day," "If Someone Would Only Love Me," "Mr. Joe," and the novelty, "Mama's Got a Baby," capture Morton's orchestral approach to the keyboard. Orange Kellin's clarinet tells a mournful tale on "Blue Blood Blues" and Hal Smith keeps his percussion antiquarian and swinging. Chris Tyle's hot trumpet leads the charge with confident panache.

Four bonus tracks, rare 1938 performances of "Winin' Boy Blues," piano and vocal, and solo piano, "Creepy Feeling," "Finger Buster" and "Honky Tonk Music" makes this a must for Jelly Roll collectors. But the expert and loving re-creations of the five Red Hot Peppers recordings are fine and this CD should, on merit, appeal to people who dig jazz, not just "Jelly."

Dave Burns

from Jazz Journal, England

This CD is offered as an homage to Freddie Keppard, the great but under-recorded New Orleans cornet player. The liner notes are well researched and add to the listener's enjoyment of the music. The first ten tunes are associate with Bill Johnson's Creole band period and are played in a "jass-ragtime" style. Chris Tyle, leader of the Silver Leaf Jazz Band, is a powerful cornet player who is extensively featured leading the melody line. Due to the ensemble arrangements the other front line instrumentalists do not make any significate contribution to the overall jazz qualities of the music.

When the band reverts to a "traditional" line up to honor the Jazz Cardinals (the band that Keppard formed for his Paramount recordings), it sounds more at ease with the material. On Hot Tamale Man, Tyle's hot cornet is better appreciated against the contrasting backcloth of Orange Kellin's sweet clarinet. On My Daddy Rocks Me it is Mike Owen's plaintive wailing that introduces real soul into the number. This tune also features one of Tyle's better vocal efforts. Steve Pistorius on piano catches the ear with an easy, relaxed picking style that produces a bouncy and imaginative solo on Messing Around as well as several interesting but short cameos on other numbers.

Cookie's Gingersnaps is the third group to be honored. The most successful number for this reviewer is the tuneful Deep Henderson, successfully arranged by Charles "Doc" Cooke for King Oliver. The ensemble playing is crisp and there is sufficient space for the soloists to display their individual talents. One can only admire the singlemindedness of the leader in attempting to produce an accurate homage to Freddie Keppard's horn playing. Such intensity sometimes has the drawback of undervaluing the other musicians whose solos are often tantalizingly short and never get beyond an initial chorus or two before the cornet takes over again. Nevertheless this is a welcome and timely reminder of Keppard's outstanding cornet playing

Peter Sylvester

from Jazz Journal, June, 1996

Sugar Blues: A Tribute to Joseph "King" Oliver, Stomp Off CD 1298

This is a worthy effort at recreating, without copying, the spirit and character of Oliver's music, and a great deal of work has gone into the arrangements (mainly John Gill's). Interestingly, the band has chosen mainly either tunes which Oliver recorded back in 1923 for Gennett, but which were never issued (If You Want My Heart, That Sweet Something, When You Leave Me Alone to Pine), or numbers which the Oliver band very probably played, but never recorded. But there's also a core of familiar Oliver classics.

Bugle Call Rag is not an ideal opener; certainly popular in Chicago in Oliver's day, but Oliver would have take it at a more laid-back tempo, I feel, and it's rather a bitty arrangement, broken up by too many run-of-the-mill breaks. Thereafter, from a good Riverside Blues onwards, the band settles down nicely, applying an Oliver-styled approach to some unfamiliar material full of melodic charm in the style of the era--e.g., the three 'lost' Oliver recordings, and Oh! How I Miss You Tonight. Choo Choo Blues is also a particularly enjoyable track, well arranged and with some good brass breaks. On more familiar ground, Jazzin' Babies Blues, I'm Going Away and Canal Street Blues, represent familiar Oliver material, which the band performs with relish. The Pearls is a well-executed duet, in the style of the 1924 Oliver/Morton collaboration on King Porter Stomp. I struggle to imagine Oliver playing I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, though I suppose he just might have, but this is one of the less convincing tracks, and Baird's woody archaic style clarinet, suspect at times in intonation, is woefully flat on this number.

On the whole however, without coming near the masterful artistry of the great original recordings, these are colourful, interesting and spirited performances, which I enjoyed. The two cornets lead strongly throughout with the right mix of discipline and vigour, and are supported ably in ensemble by clarinet and trombone.

Hugh Rainey

from The Mississippi Rag, May 1999

This is the third in a series of Chris Tyle's Stomp Off tributes to the great New Orleans cornetists. Tyle has an astonishing knack for emulating the great horn men. Previous honorees were Bunk Johnson (The Smiler) and King Oliver (Sugar Blues). Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man pays tribute to Freddie Keppard (1889-1933), a somewhat less well known but certainly worthy New Orleanian. Keppard grew up in the neighborhood which later was nicknamed "Storyville" and began his career playing in the "tonks" of the area. Tyle wrote the thoroughly researched liner notes to this CD, in which he traces Keppard's career from New Orleans to California to Chicago, where he spend his last years.

The tunes have been grouped with respect to the principal bands of Keppard's career, beginning with bassist Bill Johnson's Creole Band, which he went to California to join in 1914. The first ten cuts listed above are from this period. Memphis Blues may well have been played by the Creole Band, and the Silver Leaf Jazz Band recreates the pre-jazz, ragtime band style of the day. Memphis Blues, for example, is rendered with the calculated angularity characteristic of pre-World War I performances. Blame It on the Blues, that wonderful rag by Charles L. Cooke (Doc Cook), is taken at a graceful, leisurely temp that invites dancing. Indianola is one of those Amerind tunes that were in vogue early in the century, and to my knowledge has not been previously recorded. The Joe Jordan song Sweetie Dear was taken at a hell-for-leather tempo by Sidney Bechet in his 1932 Victor session, but SLJB puts the brakes on it, bringing out its appealing melodic elements at a tempo it was no doubt meant to be played.

The second group contains three numbers honoring The Jazz Cardinals, a band Keppard put together for his famous Paramount sessions in the mid-Twenties. Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man is an old favorite of Keppard fans. My Daddy Rocks Me was popular in Chicago during that era, as was Messin' Around (the one written by "Doc" Cook and Johnny St. Cyr).

The last six numbers listed pay homage to Cookie's Gingersnaps, a small band led by "Doc" Cook, featuring Keppard on cornet. Since Cook was on friendly terms with the Coon-Sanders Orchestra of Kansas City and did some arranging for them, Tyle chose a few of these late "Roaring Twenties" arrangements to round out the program. If Deep Henderson sounds a bit familiar, that's because King Oliver used Cook's arrangement when he recorded it.

Personnel on the three SLJB releases to date has varied, but three of the musicians have been on each session: cornetist Tyle, of course, pianist Steve Pistorius, and drummer Hal Smith. Rounding out the band for this third session are Orange Kellin, clarinet; Tom Fischer, alto sax; Mike Owen, trombone; and two-thirds of Bo Grumpus - Craig Ventresco, guitar, banjo; and Mary Eggers, string bass. With Pistorius, Smith, and "Bogrum" (two thirds of Bo Grumpus, right?), you're not likely to find a better rhythm section. All three of Tyle's SLJB CDs are among the most replayed in my collection, which ought to tell you something

Bill Mitchell

from IAJRC (Internal Associatation of Jazz Record Collectors) Journal, Summer 1998

The joy of listening to two-cornet bands is brought to bear by these two excellent discs from Stomp Off (reviewed with Stomp Off CD1307). The band under Chris Tyle is not a working band, but comprises members from other groups including Leon Oakley and Mike Baird from the South Frisco Jazz Band. Tyle, John Gill and Steve Pistorius are the only full-time SLJB members present on this occasion. Clint Baker (leader of the New Orleans Jazz Band), Marty Eggers (freelancer who enhances any gig) and Hal Smith (leader of two or three bands) combine to give the group a pulse that doesn't falter for a moment.

John Gill turned out all of the arrangements except for two by Tyle (The Pearls and I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles) and a couple of stocks (My Maryland and Eccentric). The Pearls is a captivating duet by Tyle and Pistorius that leaves one wanting more. On this tune and others throughout the program, Chris uses a Conn metal practice mute of the kind that Oliver frequently employed. You'll recognize it when you hear it. The band sounds great, nice and full, and the soloists are familiar enough with the classic material to dive in head first. It is a fine collection of Oliver-related material played beautifully.

Russ Chase

from The Mississippi Rag, March 2000

Listen to that Dixie Band, John Gill's Dixieland Serenaders, Stomp-Off xxxx

What an excellent title for such an excellent CD by such an excellent band! And thank you, John Gill, for calling it dixieland. It's about time that the trendy apologists stopped demeaning our music by calling it by some other name. Any jazz by another other name plays just as hot, so why not call it what it is. Say it loud, dixieland and proud.

Given that, this is not really a dixieland band although some of the members are based in New Orleans. This band has a long New York history, dating from the '70s when John Gill's New Harmony Jazz Kings played Sunday afternoons at a banjo parlor situated on the former site of Nick Rongetti's club on Seventh Avenue. It was a band of identical instrumentation and stylistic roots. Two of the Harmony Jazz Kings, in fact, are Dixieland Serenaders. In the interim, John Gill has switched from drums to trombone, and Vince Giordano has reverted to his first love, tuba, rather than banjo.

If the three-piece brass section sounds tighter than most, it's becuase they've been playing together quite a while. Duke Heitger, Chris Tyle and John Gill were New Orleans players for some years, and they appeared as the horn section on a recent recording by Jacques Gauthe's Creole Rice Jazz Band. Frank Powers completes the front line with the same Yerba Buena feel that he exhibited on the recording he made with Terry Waldo's band.

What is new and unusal about this band is the presence of blues belter Lavay Smith, whose band, the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, is tearing up the San Francisco retro-swing scene. What Smith brings to this record is the particular feeling of other singers with the same last name. I've been waiting too long for a living singer with the pizzazz to do justice to Bessie Smith's Trombone Cholly and I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle. Of course, it's a big help to have John Gill's trombone calling and responding on the former.

Gill does his own vocal on Listen To That Dixie Band, overdubbing it a couple of times, then adding his trombone to the ensemble as well as a second banjo part. Hey John! Les Paul will be sending you a bill in the morning. Actually, Sidney Bechet was the first jazz musician to overdub, but don't tell Les Paul or Louis Armstrong or John Gill.

The good news is that this is one of the best bands I've heard lately. The bad news is that, according to Wayne Jones' liner notes, it's their last record. The band has broken up, and its like won't be heard again until John Gill forms his next band.

Joe H. Klee

from Jersey Jazz, November 2001

If you lived in these parts in the sixities or thereabouts and liked to listen to traditional jazz live and hot, you may well have spent Sunday afternoons at the New York chapter of the Your Father's Mustache chain. Instead of the nightly banjo bands popular at the time, the Sunday sessions featured a bandstand full of traditional jazz musicians, both weathered veterans and new generation disciples.

An added attraction was that Mustache had settled into what had been Nick's in Greenwich Village, still wearing the same layout, including the moose heads mounted on the walls and the sounds of Muggsy, Pee Wee, Miff and all the others silently saturating them.

One of the younger set playing there was an impressive banjo player name of John Gill. Time went on, as it always does, and eventually Gill surfaced in San Francisco, joining the ranks of the Turk Murphy band, still a banjo player, but adding a trombone to his kit. He listened and learned from Murphy and became inoculated with the Turk Tradition, including the rough and ready singing that matched the trombone approach.

Thus it came to pass that Gill established himself in that notable style, joining a number of bands, leaders and musicians in keeping those historic sounds alive. Which leads us to the CD we have here. Bathing himself and us in the bracing Murphy manner, we get a generous dose of pleasing classics and standards along with a handful of little-known companion pieces. All the Murphy elements are here: the rough and ragged trombone, the strong-lung two-horn team with Duke Heitger, trumpet, and Chris Tyle, cornet, a solid banjo-tuba combination in the hands of Eddy Davis and Vince Giordano--all doing a stand-out job.

Completeing the line-up in style are Frank Poweres on clarinet, Steve Pistorius on piano and Hal Smith on drums. The half-dozen vocals are well handled by Gill, Tyle and, mostly, Lavay Smith, who uses here strong voice to good advantage on Trombone Cholly, Keeps on A-Rainin', I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle and Young Woman's Blues. The classic San Francisco sound is still in vigorous good health.

Dick Neeld

from IAJRC JOURNAL, Spring 1997

Dual Review of

John Gill's Dixieland Serenaders: Looking For A Little Bluebird, Stomp-Off CD1295

John Gill's Dixieland Serenaders: Take Me To The Midnight Cake Walk Ball, Stomp-Off CD1304

Right off the top, "the trumpet team of Tyle and Heitger is about the finest I ever heard in person, let alone played with." So said Frank Powers, whose fine clarinet work can also be heard on both of these superb discs. John Gill, the fellow who seemingly can do everything, plays trombone, sings and wrote the arrangements. On Stomp Off CD1295, at least, he used a horn once owned by Turk Murphy, a former employer and obviously an inspiration. The rhythm section is everything the name implies. Of these four, Steve Pistorius gets the most solo space, not surprisingly, and impresses. His Black and White Rag is very nice with Eddy Davis quietly complementing him. Vince Giordano is exquisite in the role of timekeeper or soloist and Hal Smith is simply one of the most adaptable drummers you can find today. He fits perfectly in any group. In other words, this is some band!

The programs have been selected by Gill with no particular format in mind, apparently, except that these are tunes he likes. Chances are that you will number several of these among your favorites, too. Very strong on Joe Oliver, [Stomp Off CD1295] begins with one of his collaborations with Louis Armstrong and [Stomp Off CD1304] ends with an Oliver-Alphonse Picou tune. In between is more Oliver and plenty of other wonderful pieces. The selections tend to be very well suited to the band - or is it the other way around. Everyone knows what to do and when to do it which makes for a delicious pair of CDs. Frank Powers was right about those trumpets. And here is a vote for his clarinet playing on these sessions. If I may repeat, this is some band!

Wayne Jones, who writes as well as he plays, did the notes for both boxes and I wish he hadn't been so brief. Check these out.

Russ Chase



Silver Leaf Jazz Band



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