George Webb’s Dixielanders (1945-1948) The Pioneers of British Traditional Jazz

As the world emerged from the Great Depression in the 1930s and the outbreak of WWII was looming, in jazz music swing was the thing, as the saying went. However, there were those musicians who deplored playing in big bands, even though many had to do so to put food on the table. They got together after hours to play what they were drawn toward, namely the jazz of an earlier time. In the US this phenomenon manifested itself on the West Coast where Lu Watters gathered together a group of disaffected fellow musicians to form what became the Yerba Buena Jazz Band, playing a style of jazz influenced strongly by the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band. In the U.K. a similar thing happened a little later, George Webb forming a band which ultimately became known as George Webb’s Dixielanders. Webb’s group also modeled itself in part on the Oliver band with its two cornets, trombone, clarinet, piano, banjo, bass, and drums (although, like Watters, Webb substituted brass bass for string bass). The Watters band became resident in the Dawn Club in San Francisco, and the Webb band in the Red Barn in Barnehurst, Kent. While records of the Watters band were not easily obtained at the time, there were some available in the UK, and it is quite probable that Webb listened to them and took inspiration (if not road maps) from them. As Mike Pointon says in his excellent liner notes to this CD, perhaps the
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Born in Dundee, Scotland, Bert Thompson came to the U.S. in 1956. After a two-year stint playing drums with the 101 st Airborne Division Band and making a number of parachute drops, he returned to civilian life in San Francisco, matriculating at San Francisco State University where he earned a B.A. and an M.A. He went on to matriculate at University of Oregon, where he earned a D.A. and a Ph.D., all of his degrees in English. Now retired, he is a professor emeritus of English at City College of San Francisco. He is also a retired traditional jazz drummer, having played with a number of San Francisco Bay Area bands, including And That’s Jazz, Professor Plum’s Jazz, the Jelly Roll Jazz Band, Mission Gold Jazz Band, and the Zenith New Orleans Parade band; he also played with some further afield, including Gremoli (Long Beach, CA) and the Phoenix Jazzers (Vancouver, B.C.) Today he reviews traditional jazz CDs and writes occasional articles for several publications.

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