Roger Marks’ Armada Jazz Band • Best Days

British trombonist Roger Marks led one of his finest groups during 2000-2001, a period when his Armada Jazz Band was captured on no less than eight albums.

The Upbeat CD Best Days has 13 of the 26 selections originally released on a pair of sets (Roll Along Prairie and High Society) released by the Raymer Sound label. The group (trumpeter John Shillito, Ken Rennison on soprano and alto, banjoist John Whitlock, electric bassist Bob Jarvis and drummer Denny Hutchinson in addition to Marks) practically defines “hot jazz” during these stirring performances.

Red Wood Coast

Starting with a blazing version of Lovie Austin’s “Travellin’ Blues” (which is basically “Farewell Blues”), the pianoless sextet is consistently on fire. Whether it is the rarely performed “Magnolia’s Wedding Day,” a racehorse rendition of “Limehouse Blues,” “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” and even “Under The Bamboo Tree” and Marks’ showcase on “O Sole Mio,” the solos and ensembles are exhilarating. Each of the horn players are colorful soloists with their own sounds, and the many ensembles (often one or two more than one would expect) are filled with excitement. Shillito’s two vocals add to the piece’s momentum and clarinetist Pete Allen is a welcome guest on four numbers.

He may not be quite a household name but Best Days shows that Roger Marks’ recordings are well worth searching for, particularly this one.

Roger Marks’ Armada Jazz Band • Best Days
Upbeat URCD 339

Hot Jazz Jubile

Scott Yanow

Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.

Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

Or look at our Subscription Options.