[Review] Jools Holland His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra and Friends: Small World Big Band (2001)

The lovable host and a world of talent in live performances from the show Later… with Jools Holland.

Kronomyth 10.0: The big band aid show.

20 years ago, Jools Holland seemed fated to be a footnote—the original keyboard player in a band (Squeeze) that had already gone through three of them. And then there was his first solo album, Jools Holland and His Millionaires, which was released as Squeeze stunned the world with their retirement, turning every head back to Misters Difford and Tilbrook. Fate, however, has a funny sense of humor, even if it takes a while to reach the punchline. Fast-forward 10 years and Holland is an international star as the host of his own highly popular musical television show, Later… With Jools Holland.

Later… brought a who’s who of musical personalities into contact with Jools, many of whom joined Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra (a big band built specifically by Holland) for live jam sessions during the program. This album is the first in a series that pairs Holland and his Orchestra in the studio with a rock & rolodex that anyone would envy: Sting, George Harrison, Paul Weller, Joe Strummer, Mark Knopfler, Van Morrison, Steve Winwood, Jamiroquai, Eric Clapton, and I wouldn’t dare “et cetera” anybody else but there are more stars where those came from. Usually, you don’t get an album like this unless somebody is either dying or starving.

A good half of the album has Holland and his Band backing the artists on interpretations of songs by Ray Charles, Willie Dixon, Billy Preston, The Beatles, Louis Armstrong, Jonny Mercer, Screaming Jay Hawkins and others. The other half—the better half, surprisingly—is original material cowritten in most cases with Mr. Holland himself: “Valentine Moon,” “Orange and Lemons Again,” “All That You Are.” The styles are as eclectic as the artists themselves and include ska, soul, blues and rock. And far from the perfunctory performances you could rightly expect from an album like this, many of the artists sound rejuvenated; Dr. John, Steve Winwood, Van Morrison, Paul Carrack and John Cale seem absolutely energized in the studio.

I hadn’t expected much from this disc, certainly not 22 tracks of new, quality music, but Big Band’s got some big hands to hold it all together. Looks like we’ll need to leave some pretty big margins at the bottom for this footnote, since Holland is living large.

The Songs

1. Sting: Seventh Son (Willie Dixon) (3:04)
2. George Harrison: Horse To The Water (George Harrison/Dhani Harrison) (5:00)
3. Paul Weller: Will It Go Round In Circles (Billy Preston/Bruce Fisher) (3:31)
4. Sam Brown: Valentine Moon (Jools Holland/Sam Brown) (4:02)
5. Joe Strummer: The Return of the Blues Cowboy (Joe Strummer/Jools Holland) (2:41)
6. Dr. John: The Hand That Changed Its Mind (Jools Holland/Mac Rebennack) (3:25)
7. Ruby Turner: Nobody But You (Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil) (3:45)
8. Stereophonics: Revolution (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) (3:18)
9. Mica Paris & David Gilmour: I Put A Spell On You (Screaming Jay Hawkins) (4:07)
10. Suggs: Oranges & Lemons Again (Jools Holland/Suggs) (3:38)
11. Eric Bibb: All That You Are (Eric Bibbs/Jools Holland) (3:15)
12. Mark Knopfler: Mademoiselle Will Decide (Mark Knopfler) (2:24)
13. Van Morrison: Back O’ Town Blues (Louis Armstrong/Luis Carl Russell) (3:27)
14. Chris Difford: Town And Country Rhythm And Blues (Jools Holland/Chris Difford) (3:50)
15. John Cale: I Wanna Be Around (Jonny Mercer/Sadie Vimmerstedt) (3:04)
16. Steve Winwood: I’m Ready (Willie Dixon) (3:15)
17. Marc Almond: Say Hello, Wave Goodbye (Marc Almond/David Ball) (4:35)
18. Mick Hucknail: T-Bone Shuffle (Aaron T-Bone Walker) (3:01)
19. Paul Carrack: It’s So Blue (Jools Holland/Christopher Holland/Paul Carrack/Richard Holland) (4:02)
20. Taj Mahal: Outskirts of Town (William Weldon/Roy Jacobs) (4:53)
21. Jamiroquai: I’m In The Mood For Love (Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh) (3:07)
22. Eric Clapton: What Would I Do Without You (Ray Charles) (3:27)

The Players

Jools Holland (piano, vocals), Mick Ball (trumpet), Mark Flanagan (guitars), Roger Goslyn (trombone), Christopher Holland (organ), Gilson Lavis (drums), Peter Long (baritone sax, clarinet, arranger (15)), Jason McDermid (trumpet, arranger (7)), Rico Rodriguez (trombone), Winston Rollins (trombone), Michael Rose (sax), Jon Scott (trumpet, arranger (13, 18)), Dave Swift (bass), Phil Veacock (sax, horn & string arrangements), Lisa Walsingham (alto sax), Alistair White (trombone) with Gina Ball (violin), Guy Barker (trumpet on 20), Paul Bartholomew (arranger on 3/16), Fenella Barton (violin), Dinah Beamish (cello), Ellen Blair (viola on 4), Sam Brown (vocals), Trevor Burley (cello on 4), Emily Burridge (cello), Rita Campbell (backing vocals), Nick Cooper (cello), Phil D’Arcy (viola on 4), Barnaby Dickinson (trombone on 20), Claudia Fontaine (backing vocals), Alex Garnet (alto/tenor sax), Ray Gelato (sax), Howard Gott (violin on 4), Leo Green (sax), Anna Hemery (violin), Sally Herbert (violin), Ian Jennings (double bass on 12), John Jezzard (viola on 4), Laurie Latham (percussion on 1), Jeff Moore (violin), Jackie Norrie (violin), Claire Orsler (viola on 4), Dave Peers (trumpet on 6/10), Adrian Revell (sax), Julia Singleton (violin), Neil Smith (trumpet on 20), Marina Solarek (violin), Jayne Spencer (violin), Anna Stephenson (violin), Chris Storr (trumpet on 6/10), Abigail Trundle (cello), Steve White (percussion on 3), Anne Wood (violin), Brian Wright (violin). Produced by Laurie Latham, track 21 co-produced by Jools Holland and Ron Barrow; engineered by Laurie Latham, additional engineering by Ron Barrow; mixed by Laurie Latham, Jon Jacobs, Jay Reynolds.

The Pictures

Photography by Mark Flanagan, Mary McCartney McDonald, Olivia Harrison, Albert Watson, Andre Csillag, Brain Rasic. Design and additional photography by Christabel McEwan. Layout by Kerry Harper/IT Lab Creative.

The Plastic

Released on compact disc on December 8, 2001 in the US (Rhino, R2-78264). Also released on compact disc in 2001 in the UK (WSM, 42656) as Small World Big Band.

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