Kenny Ball (1930-2013) was one of the top stars of the British Trad Jazz movement. A colorful trumpeter, a personable singer, and a witty personality (he can be thought of as a British Louis Prima), Ball started leading albums in 1957, began to catch on big in 1959, and had a giant hit with 1961’s “Midnight In Moscow.” He remained a popular attraction throughout his long career.
The Airshots features Ball and his band on several radio shows presented by the BBC. “Nobody’s Sweetheart” and “You Brought a New Kind Of Love To Me” have Ball with his early band in 1957 while the other selections are from 1960-62.
On most of the cuts, Ball is featured at the head of a septet that also includes trombonist John Bennett, clarinetist Dave Jones, Colin “Barney” Bates or Ron Weatherburn on piano, Dick Bishop, Bill Dixon or Paddy Lightfoot on banjo, bassist Vic Pitt, and Ron Bowden or John Welling on drums, with guest Diz Disley on guitar and banjo during a few numbers.
Rather than showcase Ball on his hits, one gets to hear the trumpeter jamming with his group on a variety of Dixieland standards including “That’s A Plenty,” “High Society,” “Original Dixieland One Step,” and “Clarinet Marmalade.” Ball was always generous in featuring his sidemen and he does not take more solo space than the other musicians but he always makes a lasting impression with his solid playing.